Cloud environments are no longer a luxury for the modern corporation; they are now an absolute need. Having the freedom to pick the cloud environment that makes the most sense for the business is critical for businesses of all sizes. However, when it comes to the many sorts of clouds, it's easy to become perplexed, especially with titles like hybrid cloud and multi-cloud.

The fact that hybrid cloud and multi-cloud are frequently used interchangeably adds to the misunderstanding. Although it may appear to be a semantic distinction, there is a significant difference between the two, which will only become more essential as multi-cloud architectures become the standard.

What is the definition of multi-cloud computing?

Simply said, multi-cloud refers to a company's usage of a variety of cloud services, such as SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS. These cloud services are open to the public and are frequently provided by a variety of cloud service providers. Businesses and individuals use public clouds to outsource application and/or infrastructure hosting to third-party providers such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Google.

A firm may opt to employ numerous clouds for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Getting best-in-class results for a variety of criteria and departments
  • lowering costs
  • Increasing the degree of flexibility
  • Staying away from vendor lock-in
  • reducing reliance on a single service provider

Whatever the motivation for their multi-cloud approach, an organization's numerous public clouds will almost always need to work in tandem with other types of cloud environments to meet all of the organization's requirements.

What is a hybrid cloud, exactly?

This is where the hybrid cloud comes in. A hybrid cloud mixes the public cloud with a dedicated private cloud for the end-user. Private clouds used to be developed on-premises, under the user's firewall, but today they're more typically hosted on rented, vendor-owned data centers off-premises.

In two major areas, hybrid cloud differs from multi-cloud:

  • It often consists of a mix of private and public clouds.
  • Rather than remaining in distinct silos, its data and processes generally intermingle, seeking to complement one another.

There are some frequent reasons why corporations might want to use a hybrid cloud, similar to why they would use multi-cloud:

  • Keeping private infrastructure up to date, including security, compliance, and disaster recovery
  • Adopting agile working practices while optimizing everyday procedures and functionality
  • Increasing scale in the most cost- and resource-efficient manner possible
  • Keeping highly confidential data and information on-site

What's the difference between Hybrid Cloud and Multi-Cloud?

The difficulty in distinguishing between hybrid cloud and multi-cloud is that both concepts are frequently used interchangeably. However, there is one significant distinction among the similarities.

A multi-cloud environment is one in which a company makes use of various public cloud services, usually from distinct cloud providers. For example, an organization's online front-end application may be hosted on AWS while its Exchange servers are hosted on Microsoft Azure. Because not all cloud providers are created equal, businesses employ a multi-cloud approach to supply best-of-breed IT services, avoid lock-in to a single cloud provider, or take advantage of cloud arbitrage by selecting providers for certain services based on the lowest price at the moment.

Hybrid cloud computing varies from multi-cloud computing in one important way: it combines private cloud infrastructure, such as an enterprise's data center, with one or more public cloud services, which are frequently used in tandem to meet business objectives.

As a result, there are two key differences:

  • A private cloud is always included in hybrid clouds, and they are normally administered as a single unit.
  • Multi-clouds always incorporate multiple public cloud services, each of which serves a distinct purpose. Multi-clouds do not have to have a private cloud component, but they may, making them multi-cloud and hybrid cloud at the same time.

Many organizations develop a strategy for utilizing multiple public cloud providers as part of an all-encompassing IT strategy that includes on-premises, public-cloud based infrastructure as a service (IaaS), and SaaS offerings as a comprehensively managed hybrid IT environment, while others develop a strategy for utilizing multiple public cloud providers as part of an all-encompassing IT strategy that includes on-premises, public-cloud based IaaS, and SaaS offerings as a comprehensively managed hybrid IT environment.

What considerations should you make before deciding on a cloud strategy?

Each public cloud hosting provider service has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, as well as a different pricing model. The evaluation of existing workloads, databases, networks, SLAs, storage demands, and other factors are all part of developing a cloud strategy. Then, using the capabilities offered by public cloud providers, enterprises may begin mapping their existing and future workload goals. With the growing number of services available, it's no wonder that businesses are turning to various cloud providers to match each function to the provider best equipped – or with the greatest price – to perform it.

When selecting a multi-cloud strategy, it is important to evaluate where the other parts of enterprise IT will be housed; for example, if using a hybrid approach, those database servers, authentication resources, monitoring, and management procedures would all normally be on-premises. If you use a multi-cloud strategy rather than a hybrid cloud approach, those resources must be hosted someplace – and have access to all enterprise-wide resources to enable seamless operations.

Gartner recommends the six-step method below for developing a cloud strategy and advises that if you are not cloud-first at this stage, you are already behind your competition.

Cloud-first and multi-cloud: Moving to the cloud includes the entire organization, not just IT, and requires a holistic approach to growing business technology to help define the goals and outcomes. Enterprises should be mindful that not every application is fit for the cloud, so being cloud-first does not entail abandoning all on-premises workloads or moving them to cloud providers right away. Some corporate apps will not be transferred to public cloud providers unless they have been entirely refactored.

Placement evaluations are ongoing: Because cloud provider options are always evolving, the best provider for a workload today may not be the best provider for that workload in a month. Furthermore, technology providers are also proposing subscription pricing models, which might change the OpEx/CapEx debates that have previously prompted many businesses to use cloud services. As a result, workloads should be evaluated regularly to see if they are candidates for migration to a new cloud provider, or if they should be migrated to a private cloud to take advantage of favorable vendor pricing.

Make a long-term strategy: Cloud migration isn't a one-time affair. As apps, on-premises resources, and cloud provider infrastructure evolve, acquiring skills, learning the distinctions across providers, and designing process improvement plans based on cloud provider capabilities are all activities that must be iterated regularly. Plan for a multi-year migration effort, followed by an annual appraisal.

Concentrate on governance and management: Cloud governance is difficult, and multi-cloud governance is significantly more difficult. Many corporations are unaware of their IT organizations' whole presence within the cloud or clouds since business units can spin up their services with simply a credit card. Enterprises that can measure cloud service usage may start managing their multi-cloud, hybrid IT system as a single entity, or at the very least guarantee that everything under their control is appropriately managed to fulfill regulatory requirements.

Consider the cloud as a whole, including SaaS: On-premises or on an IaaS or PaaS platform-hosted apps may become obsolete or be replaced by less expensive SaaS alternatives over time. Each company should evaluate its cloud computing needs regularly to see how they can improve their overall cloud computing positions, determine whether a workload should be moved to another location, or refactor older or legacy applications to take advantage of more agile, cloud-native applications that are better suited to today's cloud environments.

Architectural difference between hybrid cloud and multi-cloud

The location of non-cloud resources is the key distinction between hybrid cloud and multi-cloud architectures. In a multi-cloud (not hybrid) environment, those resources are also in the cloud, either at the same provider providing compute services or at another provider or colocation facility. Hybrid clouds use existing on-premises servers, storage, and networking to support ancillary services such as authentication, VDI, security, databases, and monitoring.

Although, by expanding the definition, any hybrid cloud may be categorized as a multi-cloud, not every multi-cloud is a hybrid cloud, because hybrid is defined as the use of both private and public clouds in tandem. There is no need to worry about on-premises private cloud architecture for multi-clouds; instead, focus on the specific public cloud services – and strategies to ease orchestration and monitoring across them. To decrease training, simplify operations, and limit the risk of human error in multi-cloud environments, administrators should focus on a single solution that operates across many clouds.

As multi-cloud lacks a private cloud, businesses must ensure that data is maintained in a secure manner that complies with PCI, HIPAA, and GDPR. Most hyperscale cloud providers provide availability zones and regions to aid in this, and because even retaining copies or backups of this data outside of the location it is meant to live in might cause problems, caution must be used while designing a multi-cloud data strategy.

How to Choose Between Multi-Cloud and Hybrid Cloud

Several factors play a role in determining the proper mix of cloud installations and services, including:


Because public clouds often have lower overhead than other types of comparable infrastructures, a multi-cloud approach is a viable choice for businesses trying to save money. The cloud provider is responsible for all aspects of data center management, including security upgrades and server deployment. This relieves the end-user of such responsibilities and costs.


As previously stated, a hybrid architecture enables enterprises to combine the scalability advantages of the public cloud with the privacy and security guarantees of on-premises infrastructure.

It makes sense and reduces the risk for institutions with highly secret information—healthcare providers, financial businesses, enterprises, and legal entities—to safeguard their data on private clouds.