Multi-Cloud vs. Hybrid Cloud: Choosing the Right Cloud
Blog Article Published: 07/26/2023
Originally published by Sangfor.
Written by Nicholas Tay Chee Seng, CTO, Sangfor Cloud.
Today’s digitally dominated economy has transformed the global landscape. Efficient and cost-effective IT infrastructure, namely cloud computing, is critical to providing organizations with the competitive edge they need in order to thrive. Thanks to cloud computing, organizations can dynamically scale up and scale out fast to adapt to disruptive market changes. However, no single cloud can do everything. You may find the perfect cloud solution for an individual aspect of your business. However, in an age where IT infrastructures constantly have to adapt to fast-evolving business requirements, a hybrid or multi-cloud architecture is the better choice. These models allow businesses to flexibly run different workloads on several different cloud environments at the same time. But this introduces an important question: which is the best cloud model to choose? In this article, we shall explain the differences between multi-cloud and hybrid cloud to help you decide which is a more suitable fit for your organization.
What is Multi-Cloud?
Multi-cloud refers to using two or more cloud computing platforms and services that are independent of each other. A multi-cloud setup can involve the use of multiple public clouds and private clouds from different providers. They can span different cloud services, namely infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and software as a service (SaaS). Organizations operating with a multi-cloud model distribute their workloads across different cloud environments. For example, they might use a private cloud to run mission-critical applications and store sensitive data while leveraging a public cloud service like Office 365 for productivity needs. The key characteristic of multi-cloud is the use of multiple clouds in parallel, each serving a specific purpose.
Benefits of Multi-Cloud
- Optimization: Since cloud vendors constantly invest in product innovation and upgrades, a multi-cloud approach allows you to enjoy the latest technologies and the best performance. The workloads of each cloud can be optimized based on a mix of critical variables, including speed, performance, reliability, geographic location, security, and compliance requirements.
- Cost-efficiency and flexibility: Using a multi-cloud approach improves cost-efficiency through competitive pricing and resource optimization. You can compare and select the most cost-effective cloud services for each workload, take advantage of different pricing models, and optimize resource allocation across multiple providers, resulting in potential cost savings and better utilization of resources.
- Security and regulatory compliance: Multi-cloud allows you to strategically place your data across different clouds based on sensitivity and regulatory requirements. Sensitive data can be stored in a private cloud with stringent security controls, while non-sensitive data can reside in a public cloud. This segregation helps maintain data privacy and reduces the risk of unauthorized access or data breaches.
- Vendor lock-in avoidance: A multi-cloud strategy provides flexibility as you are not confined to a single cloud provider. You can select the option that best fits your company’s requirements and avoid the problems that occur when relying too heavily on a single cloud provider, such as price hikes, unfavorable contract terms, data problems, and interoperability.
- Reliability and redundancy: The presence of multiple clouds lowers the risk of downtime, as an outage in one cloud does not impact the services of other clouds. If one cloud goes down, workloads can be redirected to another cloud that is ready to be spun off.
What is Hybrid Cloud?
Like multi-cloud, a hybrid cloud involves two or more public or private clouds. They may appear similar on the surface and are often mistakenly interchanged. However, there are structural differences between the two that set them apart. Specifically, a hybrid cloud integrates more than one cloud into a unified environment. This can include traditional on-premises infrastructure, private cloud, and public cloud. A hybrid cloud provides centralized control, operations, and management of cloud resources. It allows companies with mixed applications, data, and operating systems to extend their IT infrastructure to the public cloud while retaining control. With a hybrid cloud model, businesses can simultaneously deploy workloads in private and public clouds, easily transferring data between the two as requirements and costs change. A hybrid cloud environment also allows legacy applications to operate on on-premises data centers and cloud-ready applications or databases to run on public or private clouds. Developing, testing, and adopting new technologies with a hybrid cloud is more efficient and effective, enabling businesses to evolve quickly and stay relevant.
Benefits of Hybrid Cloud
- Unified Management: Hybrid cloud is usually managed with one encompassing resource management tool. Managing the infrastructure together avoids the complexity of dealing with different APIs or SLAs for each type of cloud. This capability allows you to easily scale up your virtual infrastructure for different applications, operating systems, or databases, thus improving overall operations and management.
- Scalability: A hybrid cloud offers more resource options and room for scaling than single public or private cloud environments. When demand spikes and capacity is reached on private infrastructure, you can quickly transition to the public cloud environment. This makes it easier to provision, deploy, and ultimately scale resources dynamically to meet increased demand amid unplanned traffic.
- Cost-efficiency: The most prominent advantage of a hybrid cloud is cost-efficiency. It allows you to choose whichever environment whenever needed, allowing you to have full control of costs by only deploying resources when needed.
- Flexibility: Organisations that set up a hybrid cloud can migrate workloads between traditional infrastructure and public cloud services whenever needed. This allows you to work on various sources of data in different environments, adjusting their infrastructure accordingly. In doing so, a hybrid cloud strategy offers users the distinct advantage of flexibility.
- Synchronization of data: Some organizations managing large data loads may need a separate solution in place to keep data consistently updated. However, with the right hybrid cloud management platform, data is integrated across the on-premises infrastructure, private cloud, and public cloud in a centrally managed pool, hence enhancing the accessibility of the data.
- Security and resilience: Hybrid cloud offers incredibly high levels of data security. This is because you can choose to store sensitive data on on-premises infrastructure or on a private cloud, which is restricted to single-tenant access. This gives you a distinct level of security as they can run sensitive workloads in a completely separate environment.
Why Do Businesses Need More than One Cloud?
Businesses today are required to balance various elements in their day-to-day IT infrastructure operations. From ever-changing customer demands and increased traffic levels to large data processing requirements, IT departments face a constant battle to address these challenges. It’s important to note that adopting both models at the same time is not advisable. The cloud deployment will either be interconnected, i.e., hybrid cloud – or separate, i.e., multi-cloud. In today’s digital-centric marketplace, enterprises are increasingly opting for multiple cloud deployments, whether multi-cloud or hybrid cloud, to strike a balance between security, performance, and cost efficiency.
In the age where organizations have a contingency plan for almost every aspect of the business, having a multi or hybrid cloud is becoming increasingly popular with forward-thinking companies. Hybrid cloud and multi-cloud environments help protect them from the effects of a critical outage or spikes in demand for certain services while enhancing operational efficiency and cost-effectiveness. While both of these forms of cloud computing are similar on the surface, there are distinct differences that businesses need to understand before investing. In fact, before deciding to deploy any cloud infrastructure, it is highly recommended to assess the existing IT estate, form a cloud strategy, and map out the transition of applications, databases, operating systems, and operations to the best-suited cloud model.
About the Author
Nicholas has an extensive career spanning over 20 years, during which he has played a major role in the ideation, formulation, and co-creation of new cloud solutions for both enterprise and government sectors. His expertise spans across multiple domains including Cloud, Data Centre, Network & Connectivity, which he blends to support organizational Digital Transformation & Modernization and Industry 4.0, including 5G. His proficiency is backed by various sales and pre-sales certifications from key global technology firms such as Sangfor, AWS, Microsoft Azure, Dell EMC, Google, IBM, NetApp, Oracle, Red Hat, and VMware, enabling him to adopt the latest global technology trends, especially in the cloud domains.
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