multi-cloud computing“Multi-cloud” is a term that’s cropped up quite a bit in IT circles lately, with a lot of buzz generated about “multi-cloud strategies.” Is this another new term the IT industry needs to learn, or just another way of referring to hybrid cloud?

Well, these terms may be used interchangeably by some, but they are not the same. To explain, we’ll first define what hybrid and multi-cloud are. Then we’ll explain the differences, which are subtle but very distinct, between the two. Let’s start with hybrid cloud.

Hybrid cloud: There are a few different definitions of hybrid cloud floating around, but for the purposes of this post, let’s say hybrid cloud is a mix of public and private cloud that connects the public cloud to your on-premise infrastructure and is orchestrated to run together for a single task. In this scenario, you’re optimizing your workload so it runs in the right environment at the right time. To do this, you might have more than one cloud infrastructure, but because you’re using a mixture of clouds to accomplish a single task, you are using a hybrid cloud.

Multi-cloud: This is literally using multiple clouds, from multiple providers, for multiple tasks. Why use this strategy? Well, one department might need the cloud for collaboration and document sharing, while another might need the cloud for high performance Big Data analytics. These are two different tasks that both require the cloud, but in different ways. Fulfilling these needs could require more than one cloud provider and different quality clouds; hence, this is a multi-cloud situation.

Some organizations also tend to gravitate towards a multi-cloud strategy to avoid vendor lock-in and stay abreast of the latest technology developments by all cloud providers, not just one. They can also save money by shopping around various public and private cloud providers and comparing price points between them to combine services for the best price.

So, what’s the difference?

The major difference between hybrid cloud and multi-cloud is that hybrid is a deployment strategy used to accomplish a single task. The data may intermingle between your on-premise cloud and the public cloud, but it remains with the same workload. A multi-cloud strategy, on the other hand, is a cloud management strategy that uses several providers to accomplish more than one task, perhaps within the same department or as a collaboration between different departments. A multi-cloud strategy might include hybrid cloud as a component, but a hybrid cloud solution isn’t always a multi-cloud one.

Should I prioritize one over the other?

Not necessarily. It depends on what you need for your business. Hybrid and multi cloud each have their own use cases, and it’s up to you to decide which fits your needs best. Whether you use more than one kind of cloud separately, a mixture of your own cloud infrastructure and third-party providers, or both, it all depends on your application needs.

While many people use the terms multi-cloud and hybrid cloud interchangeably, they do have different meanings and are not the same. One doesn’t necessarily outshine the other, but after you determine your business needs, you might find that one fits your IT requirements better.

Whether you’re pursuing a multi-cloud or hybrid cloud strategy, we can help. Check out our cloud page to learn more, or read our blog posts about hybrid cloud and what kind of cloud is best for your business.