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Does multi-cloud mean hybrid cloud?

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Hybrid cloud infrastructure grew out of the business need for both the scalability and flexibility of public cloud services combined with the increased security of private cloud ownership. But can every combination of public and private cloud call itself hybrid? 

With any emerging technology, terminology and jargon can become confusing. Multi-cloud and hybrid cloud are frequently used interchangeably, and while both use private and public clouds, their benefits and drawbacks are quite different.

Interconnectivity

 

The key difference separating hybrid and multi-cloud environments is interconnectivity. A multi-cloud environment will use different clouds for different needs, and while they may communicate data, they are not integrated.

A true hybrid cloud, however, will share a single management layer, security layer and orchestration – applications and data can be seamlessly moved between clouds and the extra computing power of the public cloud can be pulled in as needed.

To make things more confusing, a multi-cloud solution could theoretically include one or more hybrid clouds, and a hybrid cloud solution can include multiple clouds at various degrees of integration.

Cost & Security

 

The most common reasons cited for multi-cloud usage are latency issues and concerns about vendor lock-in. Multi-cloud naturally means multi-vendor, and prevents a business from being held hostage by any one cloud provider.

Cost is also a factor. The upfront investment required for a secure hybrid cloud environment can be a daunting prospect – many businesses like to be able to shop around multiple cloud offerings for lower prices.

However, multi-cloud is not without its challenges. Each component and vendor in a multi-cloud solution must be assessed to make sure they meet security and compliance requirements. The lack of interconnectivity means the hybrid cloud flexibility and bird’s eye view of operations is not possible.

 

While multi-cloud solutions are often a stepping stone to using both private and public clouds, the benefits of the hybrid cloud model continue to appeal to businesses, with 71% of businesses adopting a hybrid solution last year.

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