Hybrid Cloud and Multi-Cloud Explained

Cloud Computing might not be new, but it continues to be surrounded by confusion and misunderstanding. The complexity around cloud only ever seems to grow, with many new terms and acronyms, being used to describe different ways of thinking and delivering cloud services.

Two of these terms are Hybrid CloudandMulti-Cloud; which sound similar, and are often used interchangeably, but in reality, they are very different. Trying to understand exactly what they are and the difference between them can be confusing.

Industry analysts agree. Lauren Nelson, principal analyst at Forrester Research said in a recent article; “Hybrid Cloud is the most undescriptive term in the entire world. It’s more of a problem statement than a definition”.

To try and create clarity, some companies and vendors have started using the term Multi-Cloud instead of hybrid, indicating that the strategy simply involves more than one cloud. Others have started to use their own terminology and jargon to try and claim thought leadership and create a market advantage. With this kind of confusion abound, how do businesses decide what is real and what is actually marketing hype?

Put simply, Hybrid Cloud and Multi-Cloud are a mix of different (public and private) cloud services that meet specific business needs.

Let’s look first at Hybrid Cloud. The Gartner IT glossary defines Hybrid Cloud as “policy-based and coordinated service provisioning, use and management across a mixture of internal and external cloud services”. Put simply (and how we explain it to our customers!) Hybrid Cloud is a modern infrastructure solution that uses a blend of on-premise, private cloud and public cloud services with orchestration between the platforms. The orchestration piece is key; this can be a common element that ties the different clouds together whether that’s vendor co-ordination, a management interface, or larger scale project management.

We find that Hybrid Cloud is growing in popularity in our customer base. As businesses start and progress on their cloud journey, they often realise that a single cloud model may not realistically meet their needs, and that a blended approach to cloud services is often a more achievable goal. It is not unusual to find an enterprise or public sector organisation that have services that are all at varying stages of the cloud journey and the IT estate is a mix of hardware they own and run, hardware in a data centre and various distributed cloud services.

Hybrid Cloud is also a perfect solution for organisations who want to maximise their legacy or on-premise infrastructure investment, as legacy and on-premise equipment can be incorporated into a hybrid solution, thus developing a future proof plan for the future.

In contrast, Multi-Cloud has many and varied definitions, but interestingly, this is one term which is not included in Gartner’s IT glossary. The most widely accepted definition of Multi-Cloud is using multiple clouds for different tasks, with no connection or orchestration between them. Multi-cloud also often means multi-vendor, as some organisations follow this path to prevent vendor-lock in, avoid single points of failure, or to get the best innovations or support from different providers.

At the end of the day, businesses are realising that when it comes to cloud, ‘one size doesn’t fit all’, and both approaches offer different ways for organisations to flex to suit their needs and realise benefit from cloud computing.

To find out more about Hybrid Cloud and Multi-Cloud, and how they can help your business achieve its goals, contact us today.