Hybrid Cloud Versus Multi-Cloud: What’s the Difference?

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Hybrid Cloud Versus Multi-Cloud: What’s the Difference?

If you've gotten caught up and left behind in some of the terminology of cloud computing, take a look at the differences.

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The arrival of cloud computing to enterprise IT brought much more than new business value and end-user utility. Most notably, it brought confusion. An entirely new set of terms was created to describe the many varieties of virtual data storage and transmission. First, we learned about private clouds, or cloud environments that were created to only support workloads from a specific organization. Private cloud infrastructure like this is usually, but not always, created utilizing resources within a company’s own on-premises data center.

Then as time progressed, someone told us about public clouds, or clouds that are publicly accessed and consumed. This means that all hardware-based networking, storage, and compute resources are owned and managed by a third-party provider like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Though workloads are partitioned for data security, these resources are shared by the customers of a particular public cloud provider.

With now two types of clouds to account for, we would naturally need terminology to describe the transmission of applications and data between public and private clouds. This architecture is what we define as a hybrid cloud. Despite public and private clouds being independently operated, this data sharing is made possible by using encrypted connections. This encrypted highway of sorts allows cloud operators to perform a single task leveraging two separate cloud resources – most commonly a private and a public environment. If you were to visualize a Venn diagram, and assigned a public cloud on the left and a private on the right, a hybrid cloud would entail the sum of both parts. The overlapping space in the middle represents the encrypted layer.

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This middle ground between public and private clouds provides a vital bridge for data transmission. It allows organizations to leverage cloud capabilities without compromising productivity or security. Scenarios in which a hybrid cloud model is utilized include:

  • Companies who are migrating from a complete on-premises solution to a configuration that incorporates some usage of public cloud capacity

  • Organizations that are moving back to a private, on-premises data center from being primarily cloud-based

  • IT departments that are deploying a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) or Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) solution in which computational resources can be leveraged without measurable data risk

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Hybrid cloud infrastructure provides notable flexibility for organizations. You enjoy the secure access of on-premises resources while also having the rapid scale and elasticity of the public cloud. Not to mention, the encrypted data sharing allows for industries who manage hypersensitive information to consume cloud services, like public sector entities, law offices, financial service institutions, and healthcare providers. Organizations from these industries can share data as needed with external partners while still adhering to regulatory compliance guidelines. HIPAA, ISO, PCI-DSS, CIS, NiST and SOC-2 are all regulatory guidelines that govern how sensitive personal data is stored and shared.

But what about environments that utilize both public and private cloud infrastructures, though data isn’t shared between them? How do we categorize this scenario?

A “multi-cloud environment” would be the right answer. These types of cloud environments differ from hybrids, as they suggest the presence and usage of many clouds without the guaranteed interoperability between them. Utilization of this emerging architecture is growing as it provides access to several service models within the cloud. According to Gartner, 70% of enterprises will be implementing a multi-cloud strategy by the end of this year.

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One common misconception when comparing hybrid and multi-cloud infrastructures is that the two are mutually exclusive. The explicit definition of a multi-cloud environment, more than one, suggests that a hybrid cloud model is also indeed a multi-cloud model. However, the inverse is not always true. A multi-cloud configuration can be hybridized but it can also exist without the need for individual clouds to talk to each other.

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The most obvious reason for this siloed approach is data security. Despite having data encryption and other threat prevention capabilities, cloud operators still fear the minimal exposure to risks associated with moving data in between clouds. That doesn’t mean, however, they won’t have a use for operating many clouds at one time. Organizations from both the public and private sectors are increasingly presented with business justifications for managing workloads amongst several cloud providers. In these instances, the clouds are running multiple tasks. Clouds aren’t sharing data or computational power for a single output like in the case of the hybrid environment. Aside from security, many organizations literally stumble into a multi-cloud environment as they don’t have a business justification for sharing apps or data between clouds.

So, What Is the Key Takeaway for Hybrid or Multi-Cloud Success?

Knowing the difference between these cloud environments is one thing, but it's another to truly become successful using one or the other. Read through this whitepaper to dive into some of the common operational challenges businesses can face with hybrid and multi-cloud, solutions to minimize or eliminate these pain points, and ways to define success in the multi-cloud era.

amazon aws, cloud management, google cloud platform, hybrid cloud, infrastructure, microsoft azure, multi cloud, private cloud, public cloud

Published at DZone with permission of Jordan McMahon . See the original article here.

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

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