Cloud environments have become a necessity for modern organizations across all industries. But choosing the right cloud computing system for your company size, goals, and infrastructure can be challenging.
“Multi-cloud” and “hybrid cloud” are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but they’re not the same. Understanding the key differences and benefits between these cloud environments will help your business grow and ensure you have the right cloud computing system that addresses your unique needs.
This in-depth guide will explain everything you need to know about multi-cloud and hybrid cloud, including tools, tricks, and best practices for success.
The Top-Rated Cloud Storage Services For Multi-Cloud and Hybrid Cloud Environments
In addition to cloud computing, your organization needs to have a cloud storage solution to safely store assets—and these are the best options on the market today:
- iDrive – Best for backups
- Microsoft OneDrive – Best for home use
- Google Drive – Best free cloud storage service
- Apple’s iCloud – Most intuitive cloud storage service
- Dropbox – Best all-around cloud storage solution
You can read our full reviews of the best cloud storage services here.
What is Multi-Cloud and What is Hybrid Cloud?
Multi-cloud refers to a cloud computing infrastructure involving multiple cloud services that perform different functions, such as SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS. Most multi-clouds include at least one public cloud service, with each solution coming from different providers.
A hybrid cloud environment always includes at least one private cloud in addition to public cloud services. The data and processes of a hybrid cloud typically work together to complement each other, managed almost like a single entity.
In short, multi-cloud infrastructures blend two or more of the same type of clouds, while hybrid infrastructures blend two or more different cloud types.
The Basics of Multi-Cloud vs. Hybrid Cloud
Let’s take a closer look at the core components of multi and hybrid clouds. This will help you understand how these cloud environments work while comparing the similarities and differences.
Storing, protecting, and easily accessing sensitive data must be a priority for every organization. So when you’re looking for cloud solutions, this needs to be a top-of-mind initiative.
Both multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments use infrastructure that combines different clouds. So in each scenario, storing sensitive data will be crucial to operations and infrastructure design.
You can store your data on-premise, on a private cloud, in a public cloud, or on an internal server. As long as the data is safe, backed up, and accessible, each type of cloud infrastructure can support sensitive data storage.
Securing your cloud environment relies on the system’s architecture.
If you’re using a system that involves multiple public clouds, you’ll need to evaluate the security protocols and reliability of your cloud service providers and vendors. These providers should have processes and protocols in place to protect you from both internal and external threats.
Organizations that want more control over data encryption, endpoint security, access controls, and other system configurations can think about deploying a private cloud. This pairs multiple public services with a private cloud, resulting in a hybrid cloud environment.
Some organizations must follow industry-specific rules and regulations. This might include HIPAA, GDPR, PCI, or similar protocols.
You might be able to find public cloud service providers that offer these industry-specific solutions out-of-the-box. So it’s typically in your best interest to seek out these providers that likely have better cybersecurity resources than private cloud solutions.
If you’re also dealing with highly sensitive data storage, such as patient data or payment information, you need a cloud environment that is highly controlled and secured. You might be able to get this directly from public cloud providers. But sometimes you may need a hybrid solution that involves some type of private cloud in your infrastructure.
Multi-cloud systems mix different cloud solutions of a similar type. But there isn’t any communication between the systems, as each solution is used for different purposes.
A multi-cloud architecture also lacks a centralized management system for the network, and data is stored on at least two public clouds.
Hybrid cloud architectures contain at least one public cloud service and at least one private cloud or on-premises data center. All of the infrastructures can be managed from a single source of truth with the capability of identity management, cloud monitoring, alerts, and more. This higher level of interconnectivity makes it possible for public cloud solutions to behave as an extension of the private cloud architecture.
Many hybrid solutions also utilize private clouds and on-site data centers to store sensitive data. So certain records aren’t kept in the public cloud services.
Multi-cloud systems rely on vendors for availability. If one vendor has a problem, you’ll need a backup system so end users don’t have any downtime.
With a multi-cloud infrastructure, you can also set up separate public clouds that are closer in location to different users. This type of deployment solves problems related to latency for users in different regions.
Availability for hybrid cloud systems falls on the shoulders of in-house IT teams. That’s because the entire workload is based on private clouds or on-premises systems.
As a result, hybrid clouds could have more issues with downtime if there’s a failure on a public or private cloud. Some downtime is inevitable if there’s a traffic spike or something goes wrong.
Multi-cloud organizations are vendor-independent—meaning they aren’t locked into a relationship with a single cloud services provider. Workloads and processes can easily be changed so that new vendors can be added, old vendors can be removed, and any vendor can be changed.
You may want to change vendors based on technology, cost, experience, location, or other factors. Regardless of the reason, multi-cloud systems are the easiest if you want to adapt and change with ease.
Hybrid clouds require more integrations between public cloud systems and private clouds. This presents more challenges when you’re changing or moving to a new vendor. While they’re not necessarily locked in and unable to change, cloud organizations could experience significant downtime as they’re transitioning from one vendor to another.
3 Tools to Improve Cloud Computing for Multi-Cloud and Hybrid Cloud
Below are the top tools that we recommend for implementing and managing your cloud environment.
#1 — VMware
VMware offers cloud computing technology that’s specifically designed for multi-cloud environments. You can use the service to simplify your multi-cloud systems while adding enterprise-grade security.
With VMware, organizations can run enterprise apps from anywhere and scale operations across public cloud environments. The solution can even be used to add enhanced visibility and governance across multiple public clouds, which would otherwise be challenging in a multi-cloud deployment.
#2 — Azure Stack
Some tools on the market are designed for multi-cloud, while others are built for hybrid cloud. But Azure Stack can accommodate both types of cloud infrastructures.
Developed by Microsoft, Azure Stack has multiple solutions for both hybrid and multi-cloud systems. It’s an excellent product for businesses that need to meet regulatory and data sovereignty requirements, which is why it’s a top choice for industries like healthcare, financial services, and government. You can also use Azure Stack to speed up your cloud migration process with its simple tools, resources, and dedicated training.
#3 — Kubernetes
Kubernetes is an open-source solution for enterprise IT departments managing a hybrid cloud. It’s a way for tech teams to leverage both on-premises and public cloud infrastructures with flexibility and consistency.
You can use Kubernetes to quickly move workloads and applications to different parts of your IT environment. The solution has been used to help organizations migrate over 150+ different cloud services to a single source of truth for scalability and management. You’ll never outgrow Kubernetes, and you can use it to deliver applications consistently from a hybrid cloud setup.
5 Best Practices For Cloud Computing With Multi-Cloud and Hybrid Cloud
As you’re deciding between a multi-cloud or hybrid cloud environment, there are several things you need to keep in mind. The following best practices will not only help you choose the right cloud system, but they’ll also help you deploy, manage, and scale your organization.
#1 — Start With a “Cloud First” Mindset
Before you select and deploy a cloud computing system, you must first prepare your organization for a cloud shift. This goes beyond your IT department and involves a company-wide approach to define your business technology.
Whether you’re using a multi-cloud or hybrid cloud approach, neither will be totally effective if you don’t have a cloud-first mindset.
This mindset helps you start to move away from your legacy systems and outdated tech, and look for replacements that are available as cloud services.
It’s worth noting that not every application and process is suitable for a cloud deployment. So you may need to refactor some of your enterprise applications if you want to move them to the cloud.
#2 — Look Ahead for Your Future and Growth
Migrating to the cloud is not a one-time occurrence. It doesn’t happen overnight, and the changes will define your organization in the long run.
For both multi-cloud and hybrid cloud deployments, you need to understand that your infrastructure and resources will eventually evolve. Planning for that evolution will help you choose the right systems and services for your goals.
You should be looking for ways to acquire new skills and knowledge related to cloud systems. Understand the differences between vendors and systems.
Some cloud migrations can take multiple years. So start with a plan to map out exactly what that migration process will look like. Then re-evaluate that plan on an annual or semi-annual basis based on your progress.
#3 — Implement a Process for Continuous Assessment
Cloud service providers are constantly changing offerings. A single provider could be the best available option for your needs today. But that could quickly change in a few months as your needs change or their services evolve.
So you need to have a system in place to constantly assess your vendors.
Does their technology still support your needs? Do they have new technology as a separate service that you should be leveraging? Is there another vendor on the market that can better support the initiative in question?
Assessments can be scheduled on a quarterly, semi-annual, or annual basis. But you can also have ad-hoc assessments based on needs if something happens or a unique situation arises that requires some extra attention for a vendor.
#4 — Prioritize Management and Governance Rules
Governing systems through multi and hybrid cloud environments can be challenging.
Hybrid systems give you more flexibility and control, but they’re harder to set up and maintain. Multi-cloud systems are easier to deploy, but governance is difficult because the solutions aren’t managed from a single location.
Regardless of which system you choose, you need to think about the way you’re going to manage each cloud service. If you’re not going to manage everything under a single entity, you need to have rules in place for each public cloud so that your team can appropriately control access and secure the environment.
You should also have systems in place that can track the consumption of your cloud service usage, which will help you with this initiative.
#5 — Look at Individual Workloads in Your Cloud Environment
Cloud applications hosted on-site could potentially be replaced by SaaS. Generally speaking, moving to SaaS will be more cost-effective than PaaS or IaaS.
So you can look at the individual workloads of your cloud computing systems to see if the process can be handled by a different SaaS tool. Modern cloud-native applications are typically more agile than legacy applications.
In some cases, the applications you’re using for individual workloads may become obsolete. Shifting to a public SaaS could be the only answer.
What to Do Next
Now that you understand the differences between multi and hybrid cloud systems, it’s time to decide which solution will be better for your organization. The easiest way to start this process is by moving on-site data to a public cloud. You can use our reviews of the best cloud storage services to compare the best options on the market today.
From there, you can continue to evaluate your systems and see if it makes more sense to continue deploying multiple cloud services for different processes. If you decide that you want to go with a hybrid approach, you need to prioritize IT security. You can compare the best endpoint security software as a starting point.