A few years ago, hybrid cloud became the poster boy of change as it allowed you to burst out of your on-premise environment and into a public cloud. This approach gives you instant scalability without having to invest in any more hardware.

Moving to the present day and we’ve rolled into the era of multi cloud, where not only can we burst out of our data centre (private cloud) but we can stitch together various public clouds and infrastructures into one cohesive and seamless environment.

The question is, are these still two offerings or is one an extension of the other, where does one end and the other begin?

Hybrid Cloud

Let’s start with a quick recap of hybrid cloud – the ability to move workloads between your private cloud and public cloud, burst in times of high traffic while keeping your costs down and relatively predictable. This in principal has success written all over it but it’s not without its drawbacks.  This symbiotic relationship is rather dependant on similar if not identical technologies being utilised at both ends, and this is a close-knit relationship between one private environment and one public cloud.

From a business perspective it was the best of both worlds and used correctly gives you the compliance and geographical certainty of a private cloud, with all its inherent security advantages. For lower confidentiality materials the public cloud was there, ready and waiting and capable to send workloads securely back to your own private vault if needed.

This solution is:

  • Cost effective – you’re not locked into hardware and running costs for occasional use infrastructure
  • Scalable – the resource and capacity of the cloud is near infinite so even the fastest, most unexpected growth won’t catch you off guard
  • Highly available – if your on-site infrastructure were to fail the cloud is on hand to keep you up and running
  • Flexible – spin up more infrastructure when you need it and get rid of it when you don’t

Its key use cases are:

  • Bursting out – All the compute and storage you need but without having to pay for it all the time, in times when your infrastructure is under high stress simply burst into the cloud for more capacity.
  • Regulatory Compliance – A lot of the time for a lot of industries there are rules over where certain data can be stored and who can access it, this even comes down to the geographic location of the data, so often a private cloud is the answer to these problems. Yet, with a hybrid cloud you can keep all the necessary data locked away but still have the flexibility to burst out for other functions.
  • Data Availability and Business Continuity – Having your data split across multiple locations is good practice as it ensures that if a catastrophic failure were to occur on one site, the chances are your data is still safe at the other. With a hybrid cloud you can backup your private and cloud infrastructure so that if your local infrastructure goes down you can seamlessly transfer to the cloud with minimal disruption to staff and minimal data loss.
  • Application Testing – If you’re looking to launch a new application but aren’t sure how it will be received in the market, simply build and launch in the cloud and see how it does, if no one uses it you can simply get rid, or if it succeeds and your managing predicable workloads you may choose to simply move it down into your private cloud. With a hybrid cloud this can be as simple as a few clicks.
  • Self-Service IT – Push button deployment for the masses to free up time for your IT teams, automating processes and operations in the cloud to deliver services across your infrastructure. By having the nuts and bolts in a separate space you’re protecting your other data from the mistakes of the ‘technically uninitiated’.

Multi Cloud

It’s as if Ronseal named it, multi cloud as a solution gives you the opportunity to integrate multiple clouds from different vendors, benefitting from their different strengths and pricing models. This allows you to get the best out of every cloud, backup across providers and cross region for near certain continuous delivery and optimise speed for better user experience based on location. Link multiple private cloud environments to ensure local compliance is met using secure network policies to ensure no interference between. Reduce the noise and costs created by shadow IT by having clouds new and old managed from a central plane, see what’s being used and not being used and regain control of the sprawl.

This solution has:

  • Even more cost saving potential – forget about ‘not being locked into hardware costs’ now you’re no longer locked into any single cloud pricing structure. If one provider is better for compute and the other has better options and costing for databases, use both and tie them together. Use virtualised networking to securely move data between the clouds and manage them through a single platform. This approach will give you a ‘best-of-breed’ in every facet of your environment.
  • Even more scalability
  • Even higher available
  • Hyper-flexibility
  • Alleviated vendor lock in – when the time comes to update or you see a better option out in the world, you’re no longer locked to one provider. With a hybrid cloud you are more locked as there needs to be similar infrastructure running at both ends whereas with multi cloud all options are open to you and you can shop around.

Its key use cases are:

  • Globally distributed backups – want to have backups of your integral systems and backups of your backups? Want them all connected but spread the four corners to reduce risk and increase speed of global distribution, well multi cloud could do that for you.
  • Geographic Optimisation – similar to how CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) work you can have your data distributed over several geographic regions and set it so that users within that geo are retrieving data from the closest repository, this speeds up delivery and still allows you to manage from a centralised plane.
  • Regional Compliance – Need to meet the regulation of several geographical regions? Not a problem, keep all your data in the relevant and compliant locations across the globe with all the necessary security and connect them via the multi cloud.
  • Future Proofing – As you can just spin up a new cloud and lasso it into your existing multi cloud infrastructure you can be safe in the knowledge that you can remain at the bleeding edge with ease. With the inclusion of modern virtualised networks you can connect to containerised environments to really make your future planning bullet proof.

What do you need?

As with anything in life, the tool you use is depends on the job at hand, there is no denying that a multi cloud solution gets a whole lot more complicated than a hybrid cloud solution, but the big question is do you need it? If you’re running an application that sees predictable surges in activity once or twice a year then breaking it up into its components across the internet between different clouds, managing each penny or cent as its saved is definitely overkill. Go hybrid, keep user data in the private cloud and then run the app in the public cloud, easy. With this method you’re probably making back any money lost to not vendor lock in through the cost of admin time alone.

However, if you’re running a large application or groups of applications that are seeing large and fluctuating numbers of users, coming in from all over the globe, you have the resources to source and maintain multiple clouds then that could well be the answer. With a multi cloud manager sitting as a hub, controlling and monitoring the individual clouds that people in the business are setting up would certainly help with the issue of shadow IT.

Conclusion

Is hybrid cloud the key to multi cloud? Well that very much depends on your start point, if you’re end goal is multiple clouds but you currently aren’t locked down to a private cloud in any way then no, a hybrid cloud is not essential to your multi cloud journey. At this moment you can take advantage of the plethora of public cloud offerings available to you and tie them together using a multi cloud management tool to keep tabs on them.

If on the other hand you are currently dependent on a private cloud model but would like the advantage of shared public cloud infrastructures then yes, you would need a hybrid cloud model to free yourself from the dark data centre in the basement and into the multi cloud.

Hybrid cloud and multi cloud both have their use cases and certainly maintain their relevancy in today’s market but choosing which you need could be pivotal to your business’s future. Why not let Xtravirt do the hard work for you?  We’ll ensure you develop the right strategy to meet your business needs and future proof your infrastructure for growth and protect it from uncertainty.