Multicloud vs. Hybrid Cloud: Key Differences

Ken Willard | Monday, April 25, 2022

Multicloud vs. Hybrid Cloud: Key Differences

In this blog post, we’ll look at the differences between multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments. First, we should define private cloud and public cloud and explain how they fit into a hybrid cloud environment.

Private clouds are typically deployed on premises and are often used in hybrid cloud architectures. This allows companies to meet privacy and compliance mandates, which are often easier to meet in a private cloud than in a public cloud. A private cloud is completely controlled by an organization. While the cloud computing infrastructure is typically hosted on-premises, there are scenarios where the infrastructure is in a private hosting facility off site with strict security and access protocols. Companies that are obligated to meet privacy and compliance mandates often will keep certain data only in their private cloud. 

Public cloud service providers (CSPs) are an on-demand cloud computing subscription service offered by a vendor; such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, or Microsoft Azure; and can be used by multiple organizations simultaneously. The overhead and management costs of a public cloud are generally less than that of a private cloud since companies don’t need to buy infrastructure. There is also less to manage with a public cloud as the vendor handles the operations, updates, security, and data center maintenance.

Companies that maintain their own private cloud and use public cloud services create a hybrid cloud environment.

According to Cloud Computing Trends: Flexera 2022 State of the Cloud Report, 89% of organizations use a multicloud environment while 80% used a hybrid cloud environment.

What is Multicloud?

A multicloud environment typically consists of the use of two or more public clouds or two or more private clouds. Some people believe that a multicloud environment could be the use of just one public cloud and a combination of different types of public cloud services like IaaS, SaaS, and PaaS. However, ExitCertified — and most other IT specialists — believes that if a company uses just one CSP, no matter how many services are being used within that cloud, that would not be considered to be a multicloud environment.

If a workload is in multiple clouds, if one CSP goes down, the workload will continue to run in the other clouds so users don’t experience any downtime. Additionally, one public cloud could be used as backup to another cloud.

While the above benefits are attractive, there are a couple of downsides to using a multicloud environment as it gives you a greater attack surface and more parts to secure. It also can be difficult to balance loads across different clouds, especially if the data centers are very far apart geographically. If services are in different geographical regions in multiple clouds and need to talk with one another in order to fulfil requests, that could introduce latency, the time it takes for data to pass from one point on a network to another.

What is Hybrid Cloud?

A hybrid cloud combines a private cloud within a business’s own data center along with one or more public cloud service providers, allowing for orchestration between the two. A company could orchestrate workloads between an on-premise data center, an off-site private cloud, and multiple public clouds.

If you’re working for a regulated organization, there are some things that can’t reside in a public cloud. A hybrid cloud strategy allows an organization to keep sensitive data, such as Personally Identifiable Information, in its private cloud and less sensitive data in the public cloud.

Hybrid clouds give businesses the flexibility to move data and applications between public and private cloud environments when costs, customer demands or business needs change. The private cloud, within the hybrid environment, allows companies to meet regulations that may dictate where data resides and where computing occurs. And a hybrid cloud environment allows organizations to access public cloud resources when there is a spike in traffic and a need for higher computing capacity.  

A hybrid cloud environment can be difficult to manage. Design and implementation often require the skills of an experienced cloud architect to ensure that the public cloud implementation being used is compatible with private infrastructure. The private cloud requires extensive on-prem infrastructure, including servers, storage, and network components that need to be managed by dedicated, trained IT teams. IT teams must monitor systems, applications, and processes in all environments, which can be difficult when using multiple cloud providers with different proprietary management tools.

The Differences Between Multicloud and Hybrid Cloud

Both multicloud and hybrid cloud environments are cloud deployment models that integrate more than one cloud. A company owns its private cloud but not the public cloud it uses within its hybrid environment. Whereas the architecture of a public cloud is built by a CSP, IT professionals can architect a company’s private cloud however they see fit. While it usually takes an initial capital investment and manpower to build and maintain a private cloud, the company doesn’t get billed each month for it. In a public-cloud-only solution, each month the bill is going to be different depending upon how much you used the cloud. One month the bill could be low and another month it could be astronomical, and it’s extremely difficult to manage the costs if you rely solely on the public cloud. In a hybrid environment, you can use as much or as little of that public cloud as necessary as you also have a private cloud you can use.

The major difference between multicloud and hybrid cloud lies in the cloud infrastructure, but there are also other differences. As stated earlier, multicloud uses two or more CSPs, but it also could be the sole use of different private clouds. However, typically when people think of a multicloud environment, they think of two or more public clouds. A company may use Google Cloud for developing and testing apps, IBM for disaster recovery, and Microsoft Azure to process business analytics data. Some companies use specific cloud computing services, such as IaaS, on one CSP and another service, such as FaaS, on another CSP. With a hybrid cloud, a workload may be dependent on a function or service on a private cloud combined with a function or service within a public cloud. Multicloud lacks a single identity management system, unified logging, cloud monitoring and alerting stacks, and an integrated network. While solutions exist in each of these areas, they require additional investment (time and money) to implement. In contrast, hybrid clouds often share a single identity management system, unified logging, cloud monitoring and alerting stacks, and an integrated network.

In multicloud environments, multiple public clouds manage separate workloads, making it easier to change vendors as not everything in the data center is with just one cloud provider. In hybrid settings, companies customize the underlying environments that work in sync to fit the use case. Therefore, an on-premise system is often tightly integrated with the public cloud, making it more difficult to move to a new vendor.

 A hybrid environment may be better for companies that have low or stable demands for long periods of time, but then have extremely high demands during peak times, such as an event company or a holiday gift company. When there’s a spike in traffic, the public cloud automatically takes over the overload work so there’s no lag time for the user.

Cost and Security Trade-Off

The overhead and management costs of a public cloud are generally less than for a private cloud since they require less infrastructure and have a shared management and security responsibility. The vendor handles the operations, updates, security, and data center maintenance for the public cloud, but it’s up to you to manage your data and maybe even your own infrastructure within the cloud, depending upon your contract with the cloud provider.

With more businesses relying on the public cloud services to meet their cloud computing needs, IT and cloud computing skills are in more demand than ever. ExitCertifed delivers IT training courses on all aspects of private and public clouds. 

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