Multi-Cloud vs. Hybrid Cloud: Which Strategy Is Right for Your Organization?
Examining the Pros and Cons of Multi-Cloud and Hybrid Cloud Computing
- Most businesses today operate more than one cloud platform, either in a multi-cloud or hybrid cloud configuration
- Choosing a hybrid cloud or multi-cloud strategy depends on the needs and project requirements of an organization, as both methods have their unique benefits and constraints
- No matter which strategy a business selects, a comprehensive cloud management platform is essential for right-sizing resources, managing costs, and ensuring security across cloud environments
Whether you’re considering a cloud migration or you’re already there, you might wonder if one cloud platform is enough for your organization. Today, more businesses and agencies are adopting multiple computing environments to store, access, and manage their data. There are several different configurations you can choose when creating a cross-platform solution. Public cloud platforms can interconnect with one another in a multi-cloud strategy. You can also combine public cloud with private cloud or on-premise servers in a hybrid cloud setup.
How do you know whether a multi-cloud or hybrid cloud architecture is right for your organization? Here’s everything you need to know in the multi-cloud vs. hybrid cloud debate.
Types of cloud environments
First, let’s talk about some basic cloud computing terms. There are two types of cloud platforms: public and private.
Public cloud platforms are available publicly, offering data services to customers across industries and locations. The most popular public cloud providers include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. Public cloud generally costs less for organizations to operate when compared with on-premise solutions and can provide greater scalability at a moment’s notice.
Private cloud platforms are privately owned and operated by one organization only. Private clouds are often found on-premise, run by businesses and government agencies that choose to have their own cloud services. They may architect this platform themselves or use a managed private cloud from a third-party vendor. While some private clouds are located on-premise, others can also be found in vendor-owned data centers and located offsite to help businesses lower their data center costs.
Businesses have many reasons for selecting public cloud, private cloud, or a blend of the two. Public cloud platforms like AWS, Azure, and Google are providing their users with additional capabilities, such as machine learning, to help them not only store but analyze their data.
In many cases, an organization may choose one cloud environment over another because of security and compliance regulations. Some business leaders believe that a private cloud is “safer” than a public cloud environment. However, data breaches and other security vulnerabilities most frequently stem from misconfigurations on the part of the end user, not the public cloud provider itself.
Multi-cloud vs. hybrid cloud
Today, businesses have more diverse requirements for the security, compliance, and management of their data. Cloud technology is evolving to make interconnectivity between platforms easier for these organizations.
The integration of cloud platforms with one another can fall into two categories: multi-cloud and hybrid cloud.
While it’s possible for a business to use a single cloud platform, they may need to split workloads among cloud services for added capabilities. This strategy, known as multi-cloud, refers to the use of two or more public (or sometimes private) cloud platforms. Where a hybrid cloud strategy will use different types of cloud services, usually a mix of public and private, a multi-cloud strategy must use two or more of the same type of cloud platform.
Multi-cloud usage is fairly common. In a Gartner survey, 81% of public cloud users reported working with two or more cloud providers. While public cloud providers offer many of the same services, there are features that distinguish them from one another. Businesses may wish to capitalize on the benefits of different cloud platforms without fully committing to one or another.
Pros and cons of multi-cloud
What should organizations consider before they implement a multi-cloud strategy?
Innovation: More businesses today are using multi-cloud architecture to solve different problems and bring new resources to their workforce. Organizations can select best-in-class tools and drive greater innovation with these new capabilities. For example, software engineers might demand a public cloud platform with machine learning capabilities, but legal and finance departments require more granular control over who can access sensitive data.
Computing power: The use of an extra cloud platform (or two or three) can bring additional computing power to an organization with high demand.
Flexibility: Some businesses don’t want to be locked into a contract with one cloud provider only in case their needs evolve over time. With multiple public cloud environments, they can scale more easily and shift focus from one platform to another if necessary. Because multi-cloud uses two or more cloud platforms of the same type, users may have an easier time moving data and applications between or among platforms. This helps the organization back up data and improve its disaster recovery.
Security: Security in the cloud should always be the number one priority for any business, regardless of their chosen architecture. Public cloud platforms operate under the shared responsibility model. The cloud provider ensures the security of the cloud itself; the end user is responsible for the integrity of the data they store within that cloud platform. With a multi-cloud strategy, administrators need to have a clear understanding of security configurations and identity and access management (IAM) policies within each platform.
Personnel: A multi-cloud strategy requires cloud architects who are well-versed in each platform. Those seeking certifications from two platforms, like AWS and Azure, will have twice the work to do. Additionally, businesses may have trouble recruiting new talent with multi-cloud expertise if they are expanding operations.
Costs: Because multi-cloud strategies tend to rely on public cloud platforms, organizations may save money on computing when compared to running on-premise resources. However, running multiple cloud environments can be a complex process. Businesses need to be aware of their cloud computing costs at all times or else risk overspending on each platform. A sound cloud tagging strategy can help reduce complexity in public clouds by labeling resources to tie them back to the right departments for billing purposes. Using a cloud management platform can also help administrators find savings opportunities and understand chargebacks.
Where multi-cloud combines two or more public cloud platforms, hybrid cloud mixes public cloud with private cloud services and/or on-premise solutions. This can be an ideal data architecture for businesses that aren’t ready to close down their data center as well as those that need to run their own private cloud environments.
Another differentiation of hybrid cloud is that the resources used in this strategy will typically work together in tandem. This is in contrast to a multi-cloud architecture, where each cloud platform may be used for a different purpose, such as storage on one platform and data analysis on another.
Multi-cloud, by most definitions, is a form of hybrid cloud architecture, meaning that it’s possible to combine these two strategies. A hybrid cloud setup could include multiple public clouds alongside one or more private clouds. The main benefit of any cloud architecture is that it can be tailored to business requirements. Naturally, every company’s needs will be different, and their cloud environments will reflect that.
Pros and cons of hybrid cloud
What should organizations consider before they choose hybrid cloud?
Scalability: Hybrid cloud brings many of the same advantages to an organization that multi-cloud can. The combined computing power of public cloud with private cloud helps businesses scale faster, giving them the ability to build their cloud architecture quickly and scale computing up or down almost instantly.
Computing speed: Speed is one of the benefits of hybrid cloud over multi-cloud. With workloads spread across different cloud platforms, administrators can segment assets. They might designate a private cloud platform to handle specific demands, cutting down on latency so that normal operations are uninterrupted. Meanwhile, they can use public cloud applications like machine learning to innovate in business.
Options: What constitutes a hybrid cloud architecture has evolved over time, and the options for hybrid cloud computing are expanding as well. More recently, organizations are fusing hybrid cloud with edge computing. This hybrid architecture pairs public cloud with edge devices, using the latter either in addition to or instead of private cloud. Edge computing refers to data that is closest to its source — an Internet of Things (IoT) device that produces the data. Combining edge devices with cloud computing also reduces latency and speeds up the retrieval of data.
Security: When it comes to security, hybrid cloud has the same advantages and disadvantages on the public cloud side as multi-cloud. However, businesses may be able to deploy greater encryption methods in the private cloud and select their own configurations and protocols for keeping data secure.
Personnel: With multi-cloud, certifications and training take double or triple the work for employees who want to learn these platforms. A hybrid cloud strategy, however, may be a good fit for businesses with expertise in one type of public cloud, like AWS or Azure. This enables team members to become specialists in one public cloud platform rather than attempting a “jack-of-all-trades” approach.
Costs: Managed private clouds can help organizations save money when compared to operating a data center. However, businesses that choose to architect their own private cloud will need to hire staff to develop and manage that environment. This means additional overhead in building and maintaining a private cloud.
What does the future hold for multi-cloud and hybrid cloud?
A report from Flexera found that companies are already prioritizing hybrid cloud and multi-cloud solutions, with organizations using an average of 4.9 public and private cloud platforms from multiple vendors. Of public cloud adopters only, Forrester reports that 62% use at least two unique cloud platforms, and 74% of enterprises describe their strategy as hybrid cloud or multi-cloud.
However, many organizations have a long way to go in learning to manage multiple cloud environments. Despite the prevalence of multi-cloud and hybrid cloud strategies, the IBM Institute for Business Value only 38% of enterprises use multi-cloud management procedures and tools to look at security and spending. Results from Forrester were similar, revealing that just 42% of public cloud adopters regularly optimize cloud spending.
How can you support a multi-cloud or hybrid cloud strategy?
Manually tracking expenditures, analyzing resource utilization, and finding security vulnerabilities across multiple cloud environments is virtually impossible for even the most experienced IT departments. A cloud management platform can help support multi-cloud and hybrid cloud strategies by right-sizing resources, managing costs, and ensuring security and compliance across clouds.
CloudCheckr delivers total visibility across multi-cloud and hybrid cloud workloads. With CloudCheckr CMx, organizations can manage multiple cloud environments all in one dashboard. CloudCheckr CMx can help you find cost savings, track resources and utilization, ensure security and total compliance with 35 major regulatory standards, and automate manual processes to take the guesswork out of managing your cloud environments.
Tracking cloud computing expenses is a crucial component of working with multiple cloud providers. CloudCheckr Finance Manager gives finance departments insight into IT costs across hybrid cloud infrastructures. Used alongside CloudCheckr CMx, this powerful tool gives IT teams the full picture of public and private cloud costs.
Need to start managing your multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments?
Large enterprises, managed service providers, resellers, and government agencies rely on CloudCheckr to solidify their multi-cloud and hybrid cloud strategies. Request a Cloud Check Up for your environment or sign up for a free trial today.