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Hybrid Cloud vs. Multi-Cloud: What’s the Difference?

When digital storage solutions first emerged, many asked, “What is the cloud?” and “Where is the cloud?” A once foreign concept to everyday internet users, the cloud is now ubiquitous and a common topic of conversation at most enterprises — making those novice questions seem laughable today. As our understanding has evolved, so too have our questions to better align with today’s more nuanced cloud environments.

Hybrid Cloud vs. Multi-Cloud: What’s the Difference?

Currently, one commonly asked question among enterprises is, “What is the difference between hybrid and multi-cloud?” Don’t both terms refer to using more than one cloud? The answer is sort of, but the definitions are more specific than that. In this blog post, we’ll explore the following questions: 

  • What is multi cloud?
  • What is hybrid cloud? 
  • How do they differ?

First, we’ll provide some key definitions to help you further understand the entire cloud ecosystem. After all, to understand the difference between hybrid and multi-cloud, you’ll need to have a firm grasp on the difference between public and private clouds:

  • What is public cloud? Public cloud refers to infrastructure and data storage solutions that are managed by a third-party provider and accessed over the internet. The provider that manages the public cloud on behalf of an organization also may host other companies’ data in the same public cloud. Key public cloud service providers you’ve likely heard of include Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and Amazon Web Services (AWS).
  • What is private cloud? Private cloud refers to a data storage solution that is dedicated to a single company and often managed and paid for by that company. The company might handle all maintenance of its private cloud on-premise at the company’s headquarters or a nearby office, house it in a multi-tenant colocation facility, or leave hosting management up to a cloud provider. The key distinction here is that the private cloud is dedicated to only one company, securely separating data from outside parties by set-up. With a private cloud arrangement, you (or your cloud provider) can point to specific cabinets and servers that are managing your company’s data.

Public cloud and private clouds may intermingle in both hybrid and multi-cloud strategies. So, what’s the difference between the two? Both terms refer to using a combination of cloud services to achieve business goals, and both — as their names suggest — combine more than a single cloud. Which type of cloud used is the differentiator.

Hybrid Cloud and Multi-Cloud Definitions

In a hybrid cloud set-up, a company uses a public cloud in combination with a private cloud or on-premise component, like a data center, and integrates data across the different environments seamlessly. The benefit of a hybrid cloud model is that businesses receive the scalability of a public cloud with the security of a private cloud for more sensitive data and applications.

Multi-cloud, on the other hand, refers to the use of multiple public clouds together in order to meet varied business needs. In this example, an enterprise might use some combination of Google Cloud, AWS, and Azure to store data for different departments or applications. A multi-cloud environment always employs more than one public cloud.

If an enterprise is using both private and public cloud but only one public cloud provider, that’s a hybrid cloud (not multi-cloud) arrangement. If the company is using two or more public cloud providers and no private cloud storage, that’s multi-cloud (not hybrid cloud). And if it’s using private and public cloud, including more than one public cloud provider, that’s both.

A Deeper Dive Into Hybrid Cloud

The most common users of a hybrid cloud strategy are enterprises that have long relied upon physical infrastructure to house their IT operations. When migrating to the cloud, it might be easier for a business to keep some of their data in those existing on-premise data centers, while starting to employ public cloud services as well. Another common use case for hybrid cloud environments is disaster recovery. A company that houses its servers and data in an on-prem location may choose to back up that information to a public cloud as a fail-safe. 

Benefits of a Hybrid Cloud Model

  • The option to keep sensitive data housed in a private cloud or on-premise location.
  • Back-up capabilities for data housed in only one on-premise location.
  • Greater agility; companies have the option to scale up their data on an as-needed basis.
  • Greater scalability and seamless application operation across public and private clouds (as well as between architectures) to accommodate moving workloads and growth needs.
  • Offers a cost-effective way to scale operations as needed.

If the past two years have taught us anything, it’s that it is imperative for a business to be able to change direction quickly. Therefore, cloud is critical, public cloud is highly preferred, and your organization may find that a combination of public cloud, hosted private cloud, and on-premise management might give you the most competitive advantage. Hybrid cloud supports a fast-moving business transformation — something many organizations realized they needed in the wake of the pandemic. As a result, the adoption of hybrid cloud is on the rise over the past year, regardless of whether the organization is a start-up company or a well-established enterprise. 

A Deeper Dive Into Multi-Cloud

This brings us to multi-cloud: a strategy where an organization uses two or more public cloud computing platforms. Organizations may decide they do not want to depend solely on a single cloud provider to perform their tasks and may choose to use resources from several different providers to get optimal benefits from each service. Fortunately, with a multi-cloud strategy, organizations have options. And with these options comes the ability to invest in digital transformation without getting locked into one service or investing too much capital. 

Benefits of a Multi-Cloud Model

  • Security: reduced risk of localized hardware failure. A hardware failure in an on-site data center could push the entire operation system offline. Therefore, the risk of catastrophic failure is reduced when using a multi-cloud strategy.
  • ROI optimization: allocating resources for specific uses and only paying for the storage used.
  • Freedom of choice: businesses can align a very specific use with each cloud model — something that is impossible to do when only using one public cloud.

That last benefit, in particular, is one that might not be attainable in a hybrid cloud environment. If a business develops the need for a new computing service in a hybrid set-up, scaling quickly is no simple task. Financial stakeholders may favor a multicloud environment for the sake of not feeling locked into one vendor that can no longer deliver on the company’s needs. Avoiding this dependence on a single cloud provider is often the differentiator for businesses opting for multi-cloud. This, in turn, reduces their financial risk. After all, being pigeonholed with a single provider can make it difficult for a business to employ a responsive strategy. 

Maven Wave’s Hybrid and Multi-Cloud Capabilities

Choosing a partner on your cloud integration journey ensures a more seamless experience. As advisers on all things cloud for enterprise, Maven Wave offers expertise across all public clouds with a detailed cloud security model.

We have a longstanding success story with Google Cloud and hold 11 Google Cloud Partner Specializations, including in Application Development, Cloud Migration, and Infrastructure. For three years in a row, Maven Wave was named “Google Cloud North America Services Partner of the Year.” We help our customers build, run, and manage applications across cloud and on-premise using Google Cloud’s Anthos, a multi-cloud and hybrid platform.

Quite simply, Maven Wave can help steer your company in the right direction when it comes to choosing hybrid cloud or multi-cloud. To learn more about how Maven Wave’s experts can transform your organization, contact us.

January 6th, 2022

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