There are more and more companies implementing the multi-cloud approach for their businesses. According to a survey conducted by Virtustream, 86% of respondents identified their cloud strategy as multi-cloud. Evidently, cloud computing has become an important tool for business. Because of it, we can now take advantage of various technologies such as Software as a Service (SaaS) and container technology.
Nowadays, everyone is moving towards cloud hosting as it provides better flexibility, security, performance, and reliability. However, there are different strategies when it comes to what types of cloud services a business should implement, private or public, or maybe even a mix of both.
Moreover, it has almost become a rule of thumb for businesses today to have different cloud providers for their various products. A strategy, that is known as multi-cloud. But let’s dig deeper into what is the difference between the most popular cloud strategies—hybrid and multi-cloud.
What is the difference between multi-cloud and hybrid cloud computing?
Multi-cloud is a strategic approach to cloud computing adopted by organizations in order to perform various tasks. What differentiates a multi-cloud strategy is that companies use the services of multiple cloud providers of the same type. For example, multiple public or multiple private cloud platforms. However, in most cases, organizations tend to use multiple public providers.
By implementing that strategy, companies can take advantage of the different benefits that each cloud provider offers. Furthermore, a multi-cloud approach to cloud computing may refer to the mix of platform as a service (PaaS), software as a service (SaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) models.
On the other side, the hybrid cloud strategy refers to the deployment of multiple cloud providers from different types. In other words, the mixed use of both private and public cloud platforms with some form of integration between them. From this point of view, the multi-cloud strategy can be considered a subset of the broader hybrid approach.
It should be noted that even though the two strategies have their difference, they are still not exclusive to each other. What made the use of cloud platforms so famous among companies is the container technology. Its combination with microservices helps breaking applications down into pieces. In this way, it improves their performance in the cloud.
The upsides of having a multi-cloud strategy are many
To combine cloud computing with container technology, companies in most cases use Kubernetes software. These together with multi-cloud accessibility allows for even more rapid resources and additional scaling capability when there is a heavy load from users.
Value for money and ROI
Importantly, cloud providers might offer similar features, but there are still some differences that make them distinguishable from each other. For example, some offer better security for a higher price, while others are cheaper, but have basic security features.
Furthermore, the multi-cloud strategy provides organizations with the freedom to choose from different providers. In that way, companies can choose those of them that offer the best value for money. After all, it all comes to what exactly the organization wants to use the cloud for.
Freedom of choice
Having multiple cloud providers to choose from often leads to a lot of benefits for companies. First of all, it protects organizations from the so-called “customer lock-in”. Cloud providers cannot prevent organizations from using their competitors, and there are many, with a wealth of distinguished features. Moreover, this secures the companies’ power over pricing and in this way they can negotiate better deals from each provider.
When adopting the multi-cloud approach, companies are able to provide their customers with the same applications’ performance and speed, no matter where they are on the planet. Furthermore, implementing multiple cloud solutions helps to reduce the risk of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks that can make the entire enterprise go offline.
That is so, because if a single service fails, there are others that can act as a back-up solution. For example, cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform have high service levels of protection against downtime. On top of that, having a hybrid cloud approach will add an extra layer of protection, as sensitive data can be kept within a secure, local network.
And… the downsides…
Even though there are tons of benefits of applying a multi-cloud strategy, there are still some downsides. According to a survey conducted by ZDNet sister site TechRepublic Premium, 72% of the respondents named complexity as the biggest disadvantage. This leads to difficulties with managing several platforms in terms of tasks and security.
Another disadvantage could be higher costs coming from having multiple contracts. This meaning that companies should be careful when choosing their cloud providers. While a multi-cloud approach might have a lot of benefits, the more cloud platforms the company has to manage, the more complex and expensive it gets.
Furthermore, according to TechRepublic’s survey, 48% of the respondents listed migrating apps and security as other disadvantages. In comparison, costs and multi-cloud management, remained with 43% and 13%, retrospectively.
Every time developers run into difficulties, their instincts scream “We need a proper tool!” Multi-cloud management isn’t an exception.
Luckily, there are a lot of tools that actually perform well. Therefore, it is good for companies to find the perfect tool for multi-cloud management alongside implementing that strategy. The perfect tool includes request management, planning, technology updates, and testing.
Among the most famous are cloud service brokers (CSBs) and cloud management platforms (CMPs). What they do is adding an extra layer of abstraction between the complexity of different cloud services. Of course, this means that there is one more thing that companies should manage. But if they know how, their multi-cloud strategy could become a huge success.
Research from Gartner classifies the different tools using a so-called “Magic Quadrant for Cloud Management Platforms (CMPs)”. The tools are classified based on their abilities to execute and completeness of vision. Based on their scores, the different CMPs can fall into four categories – Leaders, Challengers, Niche Players and Visionaries.
According to Gartner, a typical well-functioning CMP should include: orchestration; service request management; cloud migration, backup and disaster recovery; security; inventory and classification; monitoring and analytics; cost management and resource optimization. As it turns out, Flexera (RightScale), Scalr, Embotics and Morpheus Data, score the highest in the Magic Quadrant (see the figure below).
Interestingly, Google has recently announced their own Cloud Service Platform, Anthos. It is powered by a Kubernetes-based suite of GCP components. Most importantly, Anthos will allow companies to run their applications on their own data centers, on Google’s public cloud and on top of all, on Google’s competitors’ cloud platforms. According to the official Google blog post:
“Anthos will also let you manage workloads running on third-party clouds like AWS and Azure, giving you the freedom to deploy, run and manage your applications on the cloud of your choice, without requiring administrators and developers to learn different environments and APIs”
In this way, Anthos can be the next disruptive technology in the hybrid/multi-cloud space.
Multi-cloud is a strategic approach to cloud computing that implies the use of multiple cloud service from the same type (private and public). In order to proceed with this strategy, companies should first consider its advantages and disadvantages. Furthermore, as multi-cloud adds an extra layer of management complexity, enterprises should find a relevant multi-cloud management tool.
Luckily, there are new cloud management tools, like Google Anthos, coming up. This means that we might be on the brink of another leapfrogging innovation in the tech world. So, don’t miss out on the latest news and sign up for our newsletter.