Single Cloud vs. Multi-Cloud: 7 Key Differences
As more companies lean into digital transformation, comparing single cloud vs. multi-cloud use cases is crucial to determining the best strategy for your needs.
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The advent of the Internet has brought revolutionary changes in the IT world. One of the notable changes is that virtualization has advanced with the Internet to become an integral part of the IT infrastructure of modern organizations. As a result, companies are now relying on the virtual online entity housing data and services, commonly referred to as the cloud. The switch to the cloud was brought on by the exponential data growth in the last couple of decades. In fact, studies predict that by 2025, the cloud will be storing up to 100 zettabytes of data.
What Is the Cloud?
The cloud refers to a global network of remote servers, each with a unique function that are connected and work together as a unitary ecosystem. In simple terms, the cloud describes what we commonly know as the “internet.” This remote network of servers is designed to either store and manage data, run applications, or deliver content or a service such as streaming videos or accessing social media networks for anyone with an internet connection.
What Is Cloud Computing?
It is the provision of computing resources such as servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence over the cloud (internet). Cloud computing eliminates the need for enterprises to acquire, configure, or manage resources themselves, and instead, only pay for what they use.
Virtual computers gained popularity in the 1990s when the IT industry started to rent virtual private networks. Their use sped up the development of the cloud computing infrastructure that organizations use today.
Cloud computing offers a variety of benefits for businesses with some of the key ones being:
- Flexible resources
- Cost savings
- Scalability with growing business needs
- Data recovery
With that being said, there are three main types of cloud computing deployments:
- Public Cloud - An open infrastructure for general public usage.
- Private Cloud - Computing infrastructure that’s exclusively used by a single organization.
- Hybrid Cloud - A combination of private and public cloud infrastructures.
- Community Cloud - A collaborative cloud infrastructure shared by a community of organizations with similar requirements and regulations.
Single and multi-cloud concepts come from employing these deployment types from either one or numerous vendors.
What Is a Single Cloud?
Single cloud is a cloud computing model where organizations rely on a single third-party vendor for their cloud computing services. The provider maintains on-premise servers to provide either of the following cloud services in the single-cloud environment:
- Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) - a software on-demand service allowing users to utilize cloud-based applications such as email.
- Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) - provides computing resources hosted on the cloud. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a famous IaaS example.
- Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) - offers a development and deployment environment hosted on a provider's cloud infrastructure. A good example in this category is Google App Engine.
Single Cloud Use Cases
The single cloud strategy is suitable for companies with the following use cases:
- Strict organizational regulations are in place for data and workload governance.
- Insufficiency of skilled cloud engineers for efficient cloud workload management.
- Less cloud workload that a single provider can manage.
Single Cloud Strategy Advantages
- It is easier to manage as it does not require workload migration between multiple cloud providers.
- Privacy and control are maintained.
- Needs limited resources in terms of cloud engineering staffing as well as managing vendor relationships.
- Faster workload handling with a single provider.
- Reduced risk of data inconsistencies.
- Easier to hold a single vendor accountable in case of any cloud issues.
Single Cloud Strategy Disadvantages
- Hard to avoid vendor lock-in with single platform dependencies.
- It costs more to have all workloads managed by a single vendor.
- Choosing the right vendor is difficult as a single provider has limited cloud resources and flexibility in design.
- Risk of cloud resource unavailability due to any cloud issues that result in a single point of failure.
What Is Multi-Cloud?
Multi-cloud describes a cloud computing model where organizations use multiple cloud providers for their infrastructure requirements. The name multi-cloud refers to the use of multiple cloud providers, accounts, availability zones, premises, or a combination of them.
Multi-Cloud Use Cases
The multi-cloud strategy is suitable for companies with the following use cases:
- You are unable to fulfill business requirements with a single cloud.
- Multi-cloud meets the proximity requirements of your globally distributed users and service requirements in different regions.
- When the workload is big, varying, and needs to be distributed, which calls for specific cloud services.
- The regulations you are subject to require some data in private clouds for security reasons.
Multi-Cloud Strategy Advantages
Organizations consider a multi-cloud environment for the following benefits:
- It is a creative approach to simultaneously executing disparate workloads that offers customizable and flexible cloud services.
- Organizations spend less time by moving workloads between multiple clouds offering the required services at the best prices.
- You can switch vendors to ensure data availability by reducing vulnerabilities to cloud issues.
- Having multiple vendors reduces vendor dependencies and saves you from being locked into a single vendor.
- Multiple cloud providers in different deployment regions enable you to meet data sovereignty requirements for global cloud services. This minimizes concerns about non-compliance with government regulations.
Multi-Cloud Strategy Disadvantages
The multi-cloud model comes with the following disadvantages:
- Multi-cloud management can get complicated due to issues such as multi-vendor management, cloud computing inconsistencies, and inefficiencies, as well as task redundancies.
- Data migration between multiple cloud vendors can have cost overheads and slow down performance.
- Workload implementation can be inconsistent due to distribution among multiple clouds.
- Companies require excessive cloud engineering expertise to manage multi-cloud computing.
Single Cloud vs. Multi-Cloud: The Key Differences
This table gives you a side-by-side comparison of the single cloud vs multi-cloud strategies:
|Vendors||Single vendor dependency||Multiple vendors offering more control|
|Cost||Payment to one provider||Payment to multiple providers|
|Purpose||Provides single service||Handles multiple services with multiple solutions|
|Required Skillset||Fewer cloud engineers
required to manage the cloud
|Require extensive cloud engineering teams
with strong multi-cloud expertise
|Security||Easier to ensure data compliance||Less secure with distributed sensitive data|
|Disaster Recovery||Single point of failure making it vulnerable to disasters||Easier disaster recovery|
|Management||Easier management||Complex management|
The Cloud Portability Myth Under the Multi-Cloud Model and Potential Workarounds
Migrating cloud services in a multi-cloud environment is always vulnerable to disruption. Cloud portability potentially reduces this vulnerability by facilitating the transfer of services between cloud environments with minimal disruption.
While cloud portability may seem practical, some underlying complexities render this concept mythical. Essentially, cloud environments are migrated in compiled containers that make an entire cloud environment portable. However, while the containers may be portable, other public clouds cannot execute them without the underlying cloud-native services. Consequently, migrating this way defeats the purpose of employing a multi-cloud strategy.
Achieving cloud portability may be complex, but companies still opt for the multi-cloud strategy to keep up with their competitors. The key is to find out how to work around this myth to run your multi-cloud models successfully. A trial-and-error approach would be to make multiple copies of compiled containers for each cloud environment. The container copy that offers the correct solution passes for deployment in other cloud platforms.
Alternatively, you can use a Platform-as-a-Service option to provide portable services that are not dependent on specific cloud platforms. This aspect makes migrating such an application platform achievable for organizations.
Single Cloud vs. Multi-Cloud Strategy: Which Is Better?
When it comes to single cloud vs. multi-cloud strategies, businesses are increasingly adopting the multi-cloud model. This strategy is favored as it allows you to work globally with data and applications spread across various cloud servers and data centers. However, such a model only suits large organizations because setting up and maintaining a multi-cloud environment is a costly and complex task. Additionally, they require excessive resources and robust strategies to optimize cloud migration.
It is important to note that despite the use of optimized strategies, cloud portability still remains a myth for multi-cloud organizations. Primarily, at some point, your cloud portability workarounds are bound to become too complex to manage. These complexities include:
- Lack of knowledgeable staff
- Absence of holistic disaster management
- Security gaps
Are all these complexities worth investing in a multi-cloud strategy? The answer depends on your company’s use cases. However, another key consideration, in this case, is focusing on choosing the "right vendor" on top of debating the single cloud vs. multi-cloud strategies, as it is vital to finding the best solution for your business.
Depending on your use case, being locked to a single vendor does more good to an organization than delving into multi-vendor complexities. The opposite is also true. To sum it up, instead of working around a myth, cloud optionality gives you a better chance to adopt a successful cloud strategy. While it may prolong the vendor selection process, if either a single cloud or a multi-cloud strategy is right for your business, you can save your company from costly cloud expenses.
Published at DZone with permission of Florian Pialoux. See the original article here.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.
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