Distinguishing between ‘Multi-cloud’ and ‘Hybrid Cloud’

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  • Distinguishing between ‘Multi-cloud’ and ‘Hybrid Cloud’
 By Shree Das 

Undeniably, since the advent of cloud computing, its scope and popularity have proliferated, and so are the ways in which the cloud is being used by businesses to meet their needs. Today, the cloud computing world consists of acronym pool of services like Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) among others and several methods/techniques of deployment that are specifically designed to meet special requirements of the organization regarding infrastructure, workloads, safety, et al. The majority of cloud users depend on the public cloud where enterprises and individuals sub-contract infrastructure and application hosts like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform, or Microsoft Azure. Whilst this model is studded and constantly growing, it does not address all the use cases. Businesses are also adopting a private cloud model as in-house cloud computing systems. Nevertheless, the “appropriate” cloud solution for the majority of businesses is neither private nor private, but both. Conventionally, it implies operating a hybrid cloud. But a modern technique of leveraging several (multiple) cloud services has been unveiled in the name of the multi-cloud model – grew from the discovery that the “cloud” isn’t a singular noun and companies can run several clouds in several ways in a bid to meet their needs.

The fact that multi-cloud and hybrid cloud are often used interchangeably brings confusion between the two cloud models. Besides most people perceiving it as a semantic argument, the two models are absolutely different and it’s believed that this distinction is growing wider as multi-cloud models are almost becoming the norm. In multi-cloud models, a business uses several varied public cloud services, usually outsourced from several varied providers. These different clouds are used to handle different tasks to accomplish the best-of-breed outcomes or eliminate vendor lock-in. this can be drawn from the fact that clouds are created differently; for instance, for marketing and sales are different from for R&D and software development. The multi-cloud model offers an organization the peace of mind by reducing its over-reliance on a single service provider, usually reducing costs and boosting flexibility. The multi-cloud model often operates as a combination of in-house physical, virtual as well as private cloud structure. In short, a multi-cloud ecosystem begins with several clouds but circumscribes all aspects of the IT spectrum, together with private clouds and various in-house deployments.

A hybrid cloud model involves the combination of both public cloud and private cloud towards accomplishing the same purpose. In practice, applications run in the hybrid cloud by using load balancing, internet, or application services outsourced from the public cloud whereas the database/storage is located in the private cloud. The hybrid cloud model consists of computing resources that have the same functionality in public as well as private cloud and may swap depending on how much compute is required in either cloud regarding various factors like load and cost. This model is different from a multi-cloud model in two primary ways. First, it encompasses both the private and public clouds whereas the multi-cloud encompasses several public clouds and can also include virtual and physical infrastructure like private clouds. Secondly, its components typically work in unison. Consequently, data and processes are subject to intermingling and intersection within the hybrid ecosystem whereas in multi-cloud models, tasks are accomplished by different clouds, and data and processes are handled independently in “own” cloud silos.

Why choose a hybrid cloud or multi-cloud?


While these two cloud models may seem to be closely related, they aren’t similar. According to cybersecurity pundits, multi-cloud is more of a strategy and inherently multivendor. It’s hard to find that particular service provider saying, “Here we offer multi-cloud services.” On the other hand, the hybrid cloud model is a mix of public and private ecosystems that CIOs use to match and transform workloads to the appropriate environment depending on the particular requirements of their business. Now, why use multi-cloud and not hybrid cloud models? For the majority of businesses, it is more about achieving the mighty potential of cloud and offering IT experts increased flexibility and manipulation of workloads and information – multi-cloud strategies enable businesses to meet the particular requirements of their workload and application – from a commercial and technological perspective – by using cloud services from a couple of cloud service providers. For instance, IT experts may view its geographic advantages of applying multiple service providers to address latency concerns. Another reality is that business units use cloud providers for specific projects, then IT requires to use this provider in their overall cloud plan. Also, a multi-cloud strategy is useful when it comes to the prevention of vendor lock-in, which is a technique used to evade single points of failure or downtime – a mechanism that uses unique innovation from a variety of providers. Also, the multi-cloud strategy, which implies a multi-vendor is a perfect way of mitigating risks associated with vendor lock-in. most importantly, the multi-cloud strategy offers great agility for the adaption of the breakneck pace of today’s businesses. 


  • Taking the advantage of the strengths of numerous cloud providers: this is brought by obtaining the best part of each service offered by the service provider, mixing them to match what suits the requirements of your applications, workloads.
  • Prevention of lock-in risks: the adoption of the multi-cloud approach enables even developers to come up with applications that can work in different platforms enabling maximum flexibility.
  • Maximization of cost and performance: it’s easy for enterprises to optimize cost and performance


  • Security issue: the application of multiple cloud platforms causes complexity making it hard to secure the information and evade leakage.
  • Loss of provider perks
  • Management headaches

Hybrid cloud:

Now, as far as the hybrid cloud model is concerned, the greatest benefit of this model is agility. The ability to adapt and change direction is a primary principle in digital enterprising. Your business may require to use a combination of public and private clouds in conjunction with in-house resources in a bid to achieve the agility it requires. With hybrid cloud models, not everything is associated with the public cloud, and this is the main reason the majority of forward-thinking enterprises are adopting this modern way of cloud services. This approach enables applications to inter-run across boundaries and even between the infrastructures. Equal levels of distribution and flexibility are essential in the handling of data. So, whether when handling datasets in a dynamic digital world, it’s critical to plan things to revolve around to respond to evolving needs. With a hybrid cloud, it’s easy to separate important workloads from less-sensitive information. For instance, sensitive financial details may be stored on a private cloud while the public cloud is used to operate less important applications. Also, it’s possible to process your big data using highly scalable resources in the public cloud while using the private cloud to offer data safety and store the big data behind the firewall.


  • Security is guaranteed compared to public clouds
  • A great option for businesses transiting from the public to private clouds
  • Offered by a great number of vendors
  • Flexible and scalable relying on the applications required in the business/co company


  • Requires constant keeping of track of different vendors, which might be tedious
  • Using both cloud approaches requires complex IT expertise 

About the Author:

Shree Das is a Technologist and works for VMware, Inc. Responsible for architecture and design of various reference architectures and solution development. Shree’s focus is on the Cloud, Software-Defined Data Center, Hyperconverged Platform, and other emerging technologies like, Edge Computing, Cloud Native, IoT and AI/ML. You can find him on Linkedin and Twitter.


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