We often see discussions of cloud transformation framed as on-premises vs. cloud, but the reality is a bit more nuanced than that. The fact is, you have multiple options when it comes to how your organization will use the cloud, with two of the most popular being hybrid and multi-cloud infrastructures.

Both options offer improved availability, security, and scalability, but they differ in terms of implementation and business suitability. In this article, we’ll discuss the main similarities and differences between multi-cloud and hybrid cloud and help you decide which option is the best for your business.

What’s the difference between multi-cloud vs. hybrid cloud?

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Both multi-cloud and hybrid cloud are cloud computing infrastructure deployments that help organizations stay agile and competitive. Multi-cloud involves the use of two or more public or private clouds (not necessarily with the same cloud provider), while hybrid cloud involves a mix of public and private clouds and, sometimes, on-premises data centers.

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How are public and private clouds different? Multiple organizations can use the same public cloud, while a private cloud is devoted exclusively to one organization. You can think of it as the difference between living in a gated community, surrounded by other homes, and living in a walled-off estate with only your household.

What is multi-cloud and when should you use it?

Multi-cloud is a great option for organizations looking for agility and cost-efficiency. With multi-cloud, businesses can distribute their workload over a variety of providers, allowing them to avoid vendor lock-in and take advantage of each provider’s unique feature sets. This approach is particularly beneficial for businesses with mission-critical workloads in different geographic locations, as it reduces latency and allows them to easily scale their resources based on demand.

What is hybrid cloud and when should you use it?

On the other hand, hybrid cloud is ideal for businesses looking to balance the security of private cloud computing with the scalability of public cloud resources. Hybrid cloud provides centralized management and security, allowing businesses to maintain control over their most sensitive data while still leveraging the flexibility and scalability of public cloud resources. Businesses that handle sensitive data or operate in highly regulated industries such as healthcare and financial service providers can benefit from this type of infrastructure.

Is multi-cloud more complex than hybrid cloud?

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Another key difference between multi-cloud and hybrid cloud is the level of complexity involved in their implementation and management.

Multi-cloud environments require organizations to manage multiple vendors and solutions, as well as ensure compatibility between them. Hybrid cloud, on the other hand, requires organizations to maintain specialized infrastructure and architectures, which can be more complex but provide greater control over the environment.

Tip: For either infrastructure arrangement, you will probably want to consider investing in a cloud orchestration solution. These tools can help you manage how different public and private clouds interact with each other to create a cohesive environment that runs smoothly.

Ultimately, complexity isn’t the issue as much as your organization’s capacity to handle complexity. If you have the resources to properly and securely manage a hybrid cloud infrastructure, great! If not, multi-cloud might make more sense. Consult your technical leadership or an outside cloud consultant to make sure your decision makes good business sense for your situation.

Should you use multi-cloud or hybrid cloud?

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This may not be the clear-cut answer you were hoping for, but, in short: it depends. When deciding between multi-cloud and hybrid cloud, consider the specific needs of your organization.

Multi-cloud can be an excellent choice for organizations that require high levels of flexibility and agility. Hybrid cloud is ideal for businesses that require the control and security of private cloud computing but need to supplement their resources with public cloud computing to support growth and the shifting approach to work.

Consider bringing in outside help

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If your internal teams lack cloud experience, it’s a good idea to seek some expert guidance. There are dozens of cloud consulting agencies who can help you here, but you don’t always need to pay a premium for consulting services.

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Depending on the size and complexity of your infrastructure, engaging a freelance cloud solution architect or a cloud migration consultant might be a good place to start before going to a big consulting firm. A consultant can look at the specific requirements of your business and advise on which approach will work best, what costs are involved, and the expected return on investment.

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About Forrest Brown
Forrest Brown is the Content Manager at NerdRabbit. An AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner, he lives in Atlanta with his wife and two cats.

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