In 2019, the public cloud services market reached $233.4 billion in revenue. This already impressive number is made even more impressive by the fact that this was a 26% year-over-year increase from the previous year; a strong indication that app modernization and cloud migration continue to be winning strategies for many enterprises.
But which cloud strategy should a decision-maker choose? When should they migrate their legacy applications into a hybrid, multi-cloud, or on-premise architecture? There may not be single definitive answers to these questions, but there are certainly different options to weigh and considerations to make before officially adopting a new process. Read on to find out more about multi-cloud vs hybrid cloud strategies for startups, and join the conversation with other cloud computing experts in the C2C Community.
What is a Hybrid Cloud Strategy?
A hybrid cloud strategy is an internal organization method for businesses and enterprises that integrates public and private cloud services with on-premise cloud infrastructures to create a single, distributed computing environment.
The cloud provides businesses with resources that would otherwise be too expensive to deploy and maintain in house. With on-premise infrastructure, the organization must have the real estate to house equipment, install it, and then hire staff to maintain it. As equipment ages, it must be replaced. This whole process can be extremely expensive, but the cloud gives administrators the ability to deploy the same resources at a fraction of the cost. Deploying cloud resources takes minutes, as opposed to the potential months required to build out new technology in house. In a hybrid cloud, administrators deploy infrastructure that works as an extension of their on-premise infrastructure, so it can be implemented in a way that ties into current authentication and authorization tools.
What is a Multi-Cloud Strategy?
Conversely, a multi-cloud strategy is a cloud management strategy that requires enterprises to treat their cloud services as separate entities. A multi-cloud strategy will include more than one public cloud service and does not need to include private services, like in the case of hybrid cloud.
Organizations use a multi-cloud strategy for several reasons, but the primary reasons are to provide failover and avoid vendor lock-in. Should one cloud service fail, a secondary failover service can take over until the original service is remediated. It’s an expensive solution, but it’s a strategy to reduce downtime during a catastrophic event.
Most cloud providers have similar products, but administrators have preferences and might like one over another. By using multiple cloud services, an organization isn’t tied to only one product. Administrators can pick and choose from multiple services and implement those that work best for their organizations’ business needs.
What is the Difference Between a Hybrid and Multi-Cloud Strategy?
Though the differences might be slight, choosing the wrong cloud strategy can impact businesses in a big way, especially those just starting out. One of the primary differences between a hybrid and a multi-cloud strategy is that a hybrid cloud is managed as one singular entity while a multi-cloud infrastructure is not. This is largely due to the fact that multi-cloud strategies often include more than one public service that performs its own function.
Additionally, when comparing multi-cloud vs. hybrid cloud, it’s important to note that a hybrid cloud will always include a private cloud infrastructure. Now, a multi-cloud strategy can also include a private cloud service, but if the computing system is not managed as a single entity, it is technically considered both a multi-cloud and a hybrid cloud strategy.
Infrastructure is designed differently, but the biggest significance is cost. Hosting multi-cloud services costs more than using one service in a hybrid solution. It also requires more resources to support a multi-cloud environment, because it’s difficult to create an environment where services from separate providers will integrate smoothly with each other, and requires additional training for any staff unfamiliar with cloud infrastructure.
Which Cloud Strategy Has the Most Business Benefits?
Every cloud strategy has its benefits, and most organizations leverage at least one provider to implement technology that would otherwise be too costly to host in-house. For a simple hybrid solution, use a cloud service that provides a majority of the resources needed. All cloud services scale, but you should find one that has the technology that you need to incorporate into workflows.
Multi-cloud is more difficult to manage, but it gives administrators better freedom to pick and choose their favorite resource without relying on only one provider. A multi-cloud strategy also provides failover should a single provider fail, so it eliminates the single point of failure that most hybrid solutions experience. A cloud provider has minimal downtime, but downtime occasionally happens. With a multi-cloud strategy, administrators can keep most business workflows working normally until the primary provider recovers.
It’s hard to stand squarely on the side of one cloud strategy over another. Every business has its own unique variables and dependencies that may make a hybrid model more desirable than multi-cloud, or vice versa. The benefits of an on-premise cloud infrastructure may also outweigh those of both hybrid and multi-cloud. The decision to go hybrid or adopt a multi-cloud strategy resides with the decision-makers of said enterprise. There are, however, some considerations businesses of any size and lifecycle can take into account before finalizing the decision.
What to Consider When Switching to a Hybrid Cloud Strategy
Before choosing a provider, you should research each provider’s services, feedback, and cost. It’s not easy to choose a provider, but the one integrated into the environment should have all the tools necessary to enhance workflows and add technology to the environment. A few key items that should be included are:
Authorization and authentication tools
Speed and performance metrics
Backups and failover within data centers
Different data center zones for internal failover
Logging and monitoring capabilities
Convenient provisioning and configuration
Most cloud providers have a way to demo their services, or they give users a trial period to test products. Use this trial wisely so that administrators can determine the best solution for the corporate environment.
Multi-Cloud Vs. Hybrid Cloud for Startups
Again, deciding between a multi-cloud strategy vs. hybrid cloud strategy depends on the needs of the company. For startups, there may need to be a greater emphasis on security and disaster recovery, in which case a multi-cloud management strategy would provide a company at the beginning of its lifecycle the protection it needs to grow.
Conversely, to bring up one of the key differences between a hybrid cloud and multi-cloud strategy, if an entity uses private cloud services, a hybrid cloud model would provide the startup with the flexibility it needs to make changes to their computing infrastructure as they become more established.
Do Startups Benefit From an On-Premise Cloud Infrastructure?
The short answer is yes, startups can benefit from an on-premise cloud infrastructure. Taking any services in-house, whether it's managing payroll or IT services, can help reduce costs and give businesses more visibility into their workflow. If there is a need to hold on to an on-premise cloud infrastructure, a multi-cloud strategy will allow that enterprise to maintain that computing system while also managing additional public cloud services separately.
What Does the Resurgence of IT Hardware Mean for Cloud?
Even though cloud adoption has been surging for some time among businesses (Gartner reported in 2019 that more than a third of organizations view cloud investments as a “top 3 investing priority”) IT hardware and in-house services have also experienced a resurgence in popularity.
Many believe this new phenomenon, referred to as cloud repatriation by those in the IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) industry, is the result of a lack of understanding around proper cloud management and containerization among IT decision-makers. They may initially make the choice to migrate certain applications into a hybrid cloud strategy only to abandon the effort because of workload portability.
In light of this shift, hyphen-cloud strategies, like multi-cloud vs. hybrid cloud, still reign supreme as a cost effective and secure way to manage legacy applications and workloads. It may take a fair amount of planning and strategizing to decide which cloud strategy matches the company lifecycle to which it applies, but cloud adoption certainly isn’t going anywhere any time soon.