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Hybrid Cloud vs. Multi-Cloud: What is the difference?

Updated on April 16, 2022
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In cloud computing, the cloud is a collection of servers that cloud customers access over the Internet. Cloud computing has different cloud deployments and is mainly divided into 4 types: private cloud, public cloud, hybrid cloud, and multi-cloud. In this post, hybrid cloud and multi-cloud will be mainly introduced.

Hybrid Cloud and Multi-Cloud Comparison

Both multi-cloud and hybrid cloud refer to cloud deployments that integrate two or more clouds. Their main difference is the kinds of cloud infrastructure they include. To find out the difference between hybrid and multi-cloud, we should first figure out what hybrid and multi-cloud are and what the applications of these cloud strategies are.

What Is Hybrid Cloud?

Hybrid cloud deployments combine public and private clouds, additionally, they may also include on-premises legacy infrastructure. Almost all hybrid clouds contain at least one public cloud.

Public and private clouds are completely different cloud environments, which functions in completely different way. Hybrid clouds effectively combine the two environments. The result is more powerful cloud infrastructure. To learn more about public cloud vs. private cloud, you can read Comparison of Private Cloud and Public Cloud.

Hybrid cloud organizations can use its private cloud for some services and its public cloud for others. Or they can use the public cloud as a backup to its private cloud. They can also use the public cloud to handle periods of high demand while keeping most operations in their private cloud.

What Is Multi-Cloud?

Multi-cloud is a cloud architecture composed of multiple cloud services provided by multiple cloud providers (either public or private). "Multi-cloud" can be multiple public clouds, multiple private clouds, or a combination of public clouds and private clouds. Additionally, a multi-cloud deployment that includes private clouds or on-premises infrastructures is considered a hybrid multi-cloud.

Multicloud deployments can leverage multiple IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) vendors, or different vendors for IaaS, PaaS (Platform as a Service), and SaaS (Software as a Service) services.

Multi-cloud can be purely for redundancy and system backup, or it can incorporate different cloud providers offering different services. For example, a business could use one public cloud for the database and another public cloud for scale computing. In this way, you can get the most out of each service.

Characteristics and Differences Between Them

To understand the specific differences between hybrid clouds and multi-cloud, we must first understand the characteristics of the two clouds. The following table outlines the characteristics of hybrid clouds and multiple clouds in several ways.

Hybrid Cloud Multi-cloud
Architecture Public and private clouds or on-premises data centers (or both) Multiple public clouds (but can also have private, community, and on-premises data centers)
Cross-cloud workloads Components work together to run a single IT solution, so data and processes intersect Different clouds handle different tasks, so data and processes often run in silos
Sensitive data storage Resides on private cloud or on-premises servers Valuable data resides on-premises or in the cloud, depending on the design
Security Responsibilities Internal teams are responsible for protecting data in private clouds and data centers; provider handles public cloud security Public cloud providers are responsible for cloud computing security
Benefits of storing regulated data Teams keep sensitive data in a highly secure private cloud or data center Companies can ensure that every piece of data is located in a geographic location as required by law
Vendor lock-in High integration between environments makes changing suppliers difficult Multiple cloud providers and independent workloads provide the flexibility to switch vendors easily and quickly
Cloud Migration Most workloads continue to run locally, so the migration process is shorter and less challenging Migrating to multiple clouds can be time-consuming and challenging
Availability Users may experience problems if public cloud encounters problems preventing cloud bursting If one provider fails, workloads can be shifted to another; companies can also set up separate public clouds based on user location to avoid delays
Cost Less risk of overruns, but companies have to incur more staffing and maintenance costs Public clouds are cheaper than private clouds or data centers, but companies must be careful not to overspend on each platform

The first key difference is that a hybrid cloud always includes both private and public clouds. Multi-cloud includes multiple public clouds or private clouds.

Another key difference is that a hybrid cloud provides a direct connection between public and private clouds. While in the multi-cloud model, the two or more cloud providers are usually completely independent.

Which Cloud to Choose?

For most businesses, the ideal cloud solution is not to deploy a single cloud, but to deploy a hybrid or multi-cloud solution. So which cloud is chosen by most enterprises, multi-cloud or hybrid cloud?

According to market research, the application scope of the hybrid cloud is becoming more and more extensive. Globally, the hybrid cloud has become the main form of enterprise cloud. According to RightScale's 2019 State of the Cloud Report, 84% of enterprises have adopted multiple cloud strategies or hybrid cloud strategies. Among them, the proportion of enterprises using hybrid cloud continued to increase — from 51% in 2018 to 58% in 2019. Another 26% of enterprises choose multiple private clouds and multiple public clouds.

Both cloud setups provide efficiencies through cloud computing, but the final goal is to get the best results. According to the above comparison of different aspects of the two clouds, enterprises can choose the appropriate cloud deployment according to their own needs.

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