The rise of cloud computing has revolutionized business. The cloud has enabled businesses to focus their time and energy on building technology rather than maintaining infrastructure, leading to an innovation boom among startups and small businesses.
Cloud computing is the distribution of computing resources as a service, managed by the cloud provider and not the end-user. It contrasts with how businesses used to operate, i.e., by purchasing and managing their own software and hardware. Now that you’re committed to the cloud, the next step is to compare hybrid cloud and multi-cloud strategies and figure out which approach is right for your business.
The terms hybrid cloud and multi-cloud are often used interchangeably. While both incorporate cloud services from multiple sources, they do so in unique ways and refer to different cloud setups.
What is hybrid cloud computing?
Hybrid cloud computing incorporates private cloud infrastructure alongside public cloud computing providers. For a cloud computing setup to be considered a hybrid, it typically includes a private component, such as an onsite data center managed and maintained directly by the business using it.
The benefits of adopting a hybrid cloud model include the ability to deploy in private IT environments, giving businesses more control over their configurations, and leading to cost savings, especially for larger businesses. Combining a private cloud environment with a public cloud for certain services can provide the required redundancy and reduce outages. Public clouds also enable businesses to scale quickly, so a hybrid model can leverage the scalability of public cloud services while hosting certain systems that may have specialized requirements to stay on a private cloud.
What is multi-cloud computing?
In its simplest form, a multi-cloud computing setup means that a business uses multiple public cloud providers to accomplish specific tasks or workloads. For example, a provider for analytics workloads and another provider for public-facing websites may be used.
Each cloud provider has its own advantages and disadvantages, and by combining them, a business can take advantage of the unique aspects of each. Typically, this approach is taken in computing to distribute resources and reduce the chances of lost or offline data. A multi-cloud setup is especially useful for small businesses because it enables them to optimize costs and services by choosing specific cloud providers for certain needs, rather than a single large cloud provider whose complete suite of services may not be required by small businesses.
Some businesses can take advantage of both hybrid and multi-cloud environments, in which they use a private cloud and multiple public clouds. However, if a business uses only one public cloud service in addition to the private cloud, it is only considered a hybrid cloud. The real difference here is that multi-cloud integrates more than one public cloud.
Choosing the right cloud option for your start-up or small business
Hybrid or multi-cloud strategies are best suited for small businesses. Many of today’s small businesses are cloud-native, meaning they are born in the cloud and do not ever maintain their own infrastructure but instead adopt a multi-cloud strategy with a limited budget.
There is a case to be made for going with only one service provider, but the risk involved is that one may not be able to access specialized technology that supports innovative ideas and start-up-speed iteration.
The decision to go the hybrid or multi-cloud route depends on where your business’s non-cloud resources are located. If it is possible and preferable to buy and operate an onsite private cloud because of the specific requirements your company has around security or configuration, then hybrid is the way to go. Otherwise, adopting a multi-cloud approach will provide the same benefits in terms of disaster fortification, compliance handling, and flexibility, but without the autonomy that comes with a private cloud.
For most small and medium-sized businesses, multi-cloud provides the flexibility and reliability that are needed without the complexity and infrastructure investment required of a hybrid cloud setup. Cloud computing is all about finding the right cloud computing strategy for business.
(Mohan Ram, Head of Go-to-Market, APAC at DigitalOcean and the views expressed in this article are his own)