Multi Cloud vs Hybrid Cloud: Key Differences

By Sydney Wess / 2 November 2021

If you’re not well-versed in cloud computing competencies and concepts, you may find it difficult to discern the differences between multi cloud and hybrid cloud systems. While the two cloud frameworks are similar, understanding their nuances will help you optimize your business’ IT infrastructure.

The two terms both refer to a cloud approach that involves utilizing several different cloud services operating synchronously. Both setups allow organizations to work in a more efficient and agile manner via their multifaceted structure. However, the specificities of each are essential to consider when assessing your own IT network.

This article will review both multi cloud and hybrid cloud approaches. Additionally, it will not only call out their differences but will also analyze how these differences can affect both your company and any projects you may undertake.

What is Multi Cloud?

A multi cloud setup includes multiple cloud services from various vendors. The services must either be public or private—they cannot be both.

Employing a multi cloud approach offers your business a myriad of potential advantages. For instance, having many different cloud services will afford your business a more comprehensive array of benefits than if you only utilized a single service. Moreover, the other services in your multi-cloud network can make up for any weaknesses of one service.

Multi Cloud example chart
Source: Cloudflare

By working with different cloud vendors, your organization can also net a cloud experience that is better tailored to your needs. 

Providers operating in different geographic areas will offer different levels of customer service and price points, and server downtime for one provider won’t spell doom for your company if they aren’t your only provider.

Multi cloud infrastructures have sometimes arisen unintentionally through a concept called shadow IT. Many cloud applications such as file-sharing services and collaboration platforms have become easily accessible to the average consumer in the recent past. 

When these applications are used for work purposes without the blessing of a company’s IT department, they contribute to an unmanaged multi cloud environment.

At first glance, shadow IT may seem like a wholly negative idea that opens the door for cybersecurity non-compliance and data breaches. Though you must consider these potential pitfalls, smart businesses should embrace shadow IT as a means of bettering their overall IT strategy.

All the benefits of multi cloud architecture are still present in a network influenced by shadow IT. Furthermore, following shadow IT trends will clue your team into employees’ cloud service preferences and highlight the limitations of your organizationally-sanctioned cloud services and vendors.

Whether intentional or unintentional, a multi cloud system can provide serious benefits to your company’s IT infrastructure.

What is Hybrid Cloud?

Rather than hinging on the presence of multiple vendors, hybrid cloud involves the integration of public cloud services, private cloud services, and on-site infrastructure into an organization’s IT network.

The approach first gained popularity to offload the burden on on-site servers to private and public cloud environments. The resulting infrastructure provided greater security and scalability to companies that adopted the practice.

Hybrid Cloud example chart
Source: Alilbaba Cloud

Since its advent, though, the focus of hybrid cloud has shifted to performance flexibility. With on-site, physical servers waning in popularity in recent years, hybrid cloud setups are being used to build networks that can automatically pivot to the best possible cloud environment for a given process.

Businesses employing a hybrid cloud approach are still in the minority, but the approach’s benefits are clear.

Similar to a multi cloud approach, a hybrid cloud approach can drive greater technical efficiency and cost-effectiveness than a more singular cloud approach. However, hybrid cloud also offers cybersecurity benefits and can enable developers to simultaneously deploy apps and updates to all cloud environments.

Hybrid cloud systems require a fulll-scale IT team to implement, maintain, upgrade, and troubleshoot despite these benefits.

Different Considerations

When juxtaposing the definitions of multi cloud and hybrid cloud, their differences are evident. Whereas multi cloud systems employ multiple services or vendors of either the public or private type, hybrid cloud systems integrate both public and private cloud environments.

While this difference may seem straightforward, each approach poses different challenges. For instance, servers would typically be located on-site in a hybrid cloud architecture but would be off-site in a multi cloud architecture. With considerations such as these, your business would have to thoroughly and impartially assess its needs before committing to a particular approach.

Regardless of whether you employ multi cloud or hybrid cloud architecture, your business should consider the following questions when planning for cloud migration: 

  • What processes and applications can we migrate to the cloud at this time?
  • Are there any business challenges we can address via a cloud migration?
  • Which cloud vendors best fit our needs now?  How are these vendors prepared to handle our needs in the future?
  • What internal and external regulations need to be considered as we update our IT infrastructure?

Between these considerations and the intricacies of multi cloud and hybrid cloud approaches, a cloud migration can be an intimidating prospect for your business. As such, partnering with a seasoned cloud consulting company can help facilitate the transition.

Multi Cloud vs Hybrid Cloud: What Benefits Companies?

If your organization is debating between multi cloud vs hybrid cloud, you have many factors to consider.

With the multiple services and vendors of a multi cloud approach, your business can build a more flexible cloud framework and optimize organizational efficiency. However, companies must consider security concerns such as the presence of shadow IT.

The public-private integration of a hybrid cloud approach offers a wealth of benefits from enhanced security to better network performance, but necessitates a strong team of cloud professionals for setup and maintenance.

To incorporate the proper factors into your business’ decision-making process, fully understanding multi cloud and hybrid cloud architectures is key.

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