Hybrid Cloud vs Multicloud: What's the Difference?

Twenty years into the cloud computing era, and it’s been a roller coaster of a ride. As a logical extension of virtualization, cloud computing leveraged distributed resources to enable “just-in-time” application performance, scalability, and redundancy. The promise was immense: serve any application, to any user, on any device, delivered and managed with ease and consistency.

Migrating to the cloud was supposed to:

While public cloud services were an easy match for some systems, concerns about budget, ROI, governance, security, and performance emerged. Critical legacy systems multiplied these challenges with their own complexities. Even forward-thinking IT organizations were forced to slow their embrace of public cloud platforms, and the dream of a unified, all-or-nothing cloud future appeared dead.

Enter the hybrid cloud

Instead, hybrid cloud computing became the path forward. Mixing public cloud resources and distributed on-premises compute, all managed on a single cloud platform, seemed to give organizations the best of both worlds. They could quickly migrate ‘simpler’ applications and services to public providers while observing performance, integration or compliance constraints inside on-prem instances that still yielded elasticity and efficiency.

This timing was perfect:

Ultimately, users got quality, compliance teams and regulators got their air gaps, and everybody was happy, including “cloud skeptical” organizations insistent on moving forward at their own pace.

But for many early forecasters, these clouds were holdovers of an on-prem past, and the public cloud was still seen as the final destination for modern companies. It was simply a matter of time before technologists were able to overcome the obstacles to pure public cloud environments.

And public cloud investments did in fact grow, as organizations moved workloads off-prem. As tools and platform choices multiplied, cloud management got easier and more transparent. Over time, the hybrid cloud environment became the ideal transitional state for businesses looking to migrate.

Risk, reluctance, and rethinking

Today, hybrid cloud environments still remain the new normal (currently deployed by 58 percent of organizations), however the balance between public and private is in dramatic flux. While public instances were once seen as the default, desired end state, that certainty is gone.

Part of this reversal remains those troublesome legacy assets, still too costly or complex to move. Equally important has been a series of high-profile breaches impacting large public service providers, as well as an effort to rein in decentralized shadow IT cloud consumption.

It is mostly these cost and compliance concerns that now have organizations rehoming their public cloud resources back to private clouds. Decision-makers are convinced that, despite big promises and best efforts, they simply can’t trust critical workloads to environments they don’t build and run. It’s worries like these that make 8 out of 10 organizations move workloads back to private clouds, at an average rate of about 50%.

Beyond compliance and complexity, performance worries also attract workloads back from public providers. This is especially true with applications like machine learning, where large amounts of data must be accessed with disparate users with distinct needs, sometimes at different locations. Distance still matters, so keeping data ‘close to home’ is still important when performance is pushed to the limit.

Any place, any priority: the multi-cloud paradigm

Each organization is building a cloud strategy that meets their needs. On-prem, off prem, or a mix. Serving infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platforms as a service (PaaS), or simply applications. This, not technical specifics, was the first dream of the cloud – the ability to meet highly elastic and diverse needs with efficiently distributed resources. It can’t be achieved by private or public cloud alone, but only with a robust, multi-cloud strategy focused on applications and users, not infrastructure.

So, what’s the difference between multi and hybrid cloud computing?

A hybrid cloud strategy combines on and off prem cloud into a single management lens. A multi-cloud platform unifies diverse cloud instances regardless of where they’re located. This might be multiple public instances, it could be a single public and multiple private. While they might run on different resources, in different locations, they offer the same promise: the freedom to build technology around business needs, not the other way around.

The next phase: true freedom, seamless portability. And Gravity can help.

With a multi-cloud platform in place, organizations can build, run, and scale the experiences their business models demand. This means happier customers, less hurried IT, and lower cost, without compromising control. And, as we move into a multi-cloud age, we’re also seeing the rise of application containerization driven by the same goal, prioritizing users and experiences over infrastructure.

Building applications to maximize flexibility and control yields near-infinite choice and control. That’s our goal at Gravitational, and it’s why we built Gravity, to let companies confidently and securely deploy applications with instant portability.

The first promise of cloud computing is finally achievable across your entire organization. Try Gravity for yourself. You can download the free open source community edition, request a demo to learn more about Gravity and Gravity Enterprise, or learn how Anaconda uses Gravity to deliver applications to any environment.

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