There are many reasons for evolving from on-premises infrastructure to a hybrid cloud or multi-cloud architecture. Since the first moment businesses started adopting the cloud process, hybrid cloud architectures allowed them to benefit from scalability and cloud economics without compromising data sovereignty. Multi-cloud is also beneficial because it helps accommodate acquisitions and merges and optimise performance. 

While the terms hybrid cloud and multi-cloud are often used interchangeably, there are essential differences between the two. Most enterprises today adopt a combination of hybrid cloud and multi-cloud environments. 

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What are the key differences between hybrid cloud and multi-cloud?

A multi-cloud environment allows organisations to use the services of several public cloud providers. Typically, companies mix cloud services for cost advantages and to meet various workload needs. Multi-cloud utilises storage resources and multiple cloud computing and combines them into the individual network architecture. 

A hybrid cloud solution mixes the private cloud with public cloud infrastructure. Hybrid clouds may also involve data centres, on-premise infrastructure, data hosting services, and colocation infrastructure. Hybrid cloud solutions enable enterprises to coordinate workloads between associated environments, manage processes across several applications, and exercise governance and greater control over resources and IT systems. 

 The most significant difference between the two is the location of the resources that the cloud doesn’t include. A hybrid cloud environment uses on-premise resources. This can consist of storage, networking, data centres, servers, monitoring, etc. While the public cloud is used too, the mixed architecture comprises an individual, policy-based governance. This enlarges the on-premises solution capabilities without compromising operation or security. 

Businesses that undergo digital transformation typically begin with a hybrid cloud environment to shift through migration before turning to full-scale cloud deployments. In a layered hybrid cloud model, frontend applications are moved to the cloud. The applications don’t handle data volume and have fewer dependencies; therefore, they are stateless. Frontend applications have regular updates, which can effortlessly be automated when running on the public cloud.

In a multi-cloud environment, all the resources are included in the cloud at one provider delivering several computing services or using various providers. Several cloud service providers are typically involved, and storage and computing are transmitted through a distributed network. 

Hybrid multi-cloud solutions can be utilised to handle multiple use cases. For instance, you can replicate applications across several cloud services and deliver workloads to balance the number of tasks. Also, you can segment workloads according to cost efficiencies or vendor strengths. You can also dispense time-sensitive data that demand low latency. Moving data traffic nearer end-users allows you to decrease the latency of cloud services distributed from distant locations. This is imperative for businesses that operate in multiple office locations and geographically different areas. 

What are the benefits of hybrid cloud and multi-cloud solutions? 

Hybrid cloud and multi-cloud strategies offer excellent advantages to organisations, including flexibility. These strategies allow organisations to decide how and where to deploy workloads, preventing business risks of vendor lock-in. 

Advantages of hybrid cloud solutions

One of the primary benefits of hybrid cloud solutions is allowing application orchestration, workloads and data portability across several environments. Here are some essential reasons why IT leaders utilise hybrid clouds:

Security

Enterprises can reduce security risks by storing sensitive data on private clouds and on-premises data centres, thus decreasing the likelihood of a cyberattack. Public clouds can store less sensitive data. 

Quick scalability

Public cloud services can be scaled up rapidly without adding extra hardware or on-premise data centres. 

Reduced costs

A hybrid cloud enables you to store mission-critical functions and sensitive data on a reserved private cloud. Moreover, you can provision cloud services to load shifts to reduce spending. 

Cloud bursting

Generally, applications can run on enterprises’ private clouds. However, when the demand is high, they burst into the public cloud to make the operations seamless. This offers organisations a strategy to meet regular usage spikes without needing to over-provide for typical business workloads.  

Regulations and compliance

Many industries have strict governance rules regarding the data storage process. Different countries have complied with data localisation laws that demand companies to store customer data in-country instead of exporting it to a central server. Hybrid cloud solutions enable ventures to keep customer information locally in the public clouds if needed. 

Benefits of multi-cloud solutions

Hybrid multi-cloud solutions also provide several benefits for companies, including optimisation, redundancy and avoiding vendor lock.

Innovation

One of the most incredible benefits of multi-cloud solutions is their flexibility for quick innovation. Multi-cloud enables businesses to use the best-in-class service to their advantage without compromising because of provider limitations.

Optimisation

Cloud service providers have strengths and weaknesses. A multi-cloud environment allows you to run application workloads that perfectly fit it. For instance, your data strategy may not be the same as Google compared to Azure. Multi-cloud enables you to choose the ideal cloud platform for individual solutions. 

Cost-efficiency

Using several cloud providers allows you to take advantage of the different pricing options for storage and computing resources. You can distribute IT resources to a cost-effective provider by projecting workload requirements and storage. 

Business resiliency

It’s possible for a major public cloud provider to experience outages. However, with a multi-cloud approach, you can protect your business due to the flexibility to share loads seamlessly and run applications on several clouds. Supposing a cloud service declines, it won’t make any difference to end-users. 

Prevent vendor lock-in

For most IT leaders, preventing vendor lock-in is a top priority, and they need the flexibility to change providers rapidly if service contracts aren’t completed. Multiple cloud solutions allow you to utilise several providers, and as a result, you are not locked in any of them. 

Which solution is best for your business?

When considering whether you should use a hybrid cloud or a multi-cloud approach for your business, it’s worth noting that there’s no such thing as the best solution. Understanding the benefits of the two approaches is vital to making an informed decision. 

The suitable approach is that which aligns with your technology and business goals.  

As general guidelines, you can use multi-cloud solutions if you need the resources of certain cloud providers and hybrid solutions when you prioritise the flexibility of the two types of cloud.