Hybrid or Multi-Cloud? What’s the difference?

Google either of these terms and you’ll come up with thousands of different answers as to what they are and what their differences are. I think it’s time to simplify the basics of our ever-expanding technology lexicon, so let’s define what these should mean and why.

Hybrid cloud is the use of non-cloud-native technologies across two or more connected public or private clouds.

Multi-cloud is the exclusive use of cloud-native technologies across two or more connected public or private clouds.

Simple.

Under this definition, running two private clouds in two different data centres would constitute a hybrid cloud, as would running a VMware-based private cloud in a data centre and consuming VMware Cloud on AWS services.

At the same time, consuming Microsoft 365 services and running workloads in Microsoft Azure would constitute multi-cloud, as would consuming Kubernetes services across AWS, Azure and GCP.

Things get more contentious when considering technology like Azure Stack HCI from Microsoft, which deploys cloud-native services in data centres on your choice of x86 server. The underlying compute and storage platform is not cloud-native IaaS provided by Microsoft, therefore this classifies as a hybrid cloud deployment.

So why is the label ‘hybrid’ or ‘multi’ cloud important?

A hybrid-cloud deployment will typically support non-transformed services, whereas multi-cloud deployments will be transformed services. Labelling helps quickly identify where each workload or service is on its transformation journey by the architecture it has.

There is no right or wrong answer to whether workloads should be hybrid or multi-cloud - the mix of on-prem-only, cloud-only, hybrid and multi-cloud services that you deploy, will be determined by your digital transformation maturity. What is needed is a common set of definitions to describe those deployments, so that we are all on the same page when addressing them.

If you want to have a conversation about how hybrid and multi-cloud architectures can help progress your digital transformation, then get in touch with us here at Logicalis - we’ll be glad to clear up any jargon and to help progress your plans.