When you have more than one cloud, it’s important to be clear whether you have a hybrid cloud or a multi-cloud environment. The difference matters, because they support different goals and create different challenges for managing the environments.

Hybrid Cloud

First, let’s not confuse hybrid cloud with hybrid IT. Because not every application moves to the cloud at the same time, most IT teams cope with a hybrid IT environment that utilizes both cloud technology and conventional on-premises solutions. Hybrid IT can be a strategic decision, but it often is simply the inevitable result of partial cloud adoption.

Hybrid cloud, on the other hand, should never develop accidentally. Hybrid cloud should be the result of a deliberate choice to have both some workloads in public cloud and some workloads in private cloud. Typically the two environments are integrated, sharing data and processing load.

Most of the hybrid cloud management issues come from the need to make the environments fully integrated. This requires identity management that crosses the environments; integrated, high-speed networks that allow data and workloads to safely and rapidly move between clouds; and single pane monitoring that lets the entire system status be taken in at a glance.

Hybrid clouds are appropriate for several scenarios. They allow you to use public cloud for applications that don’t require high security, and to use your private cloud for sensitive applications. They can support cloudbursting, enabling you to utilize additional capacity needed during periods of high demand or a short-lived big data analytics project.

Multi Cloud

As the name suggests, multi cloud environments use multiple clouds. Unlike hybrid cloud configurations, however, the multiple clouds are public clouds supported by multiple cloud providers. Different services supported in the different clouds may be integrated to form a single system, the different clouds may run independent workloads, or the different clouds may be independent environments that provide duplicate capabilities.

When integrated to form a single system, multiple clouds let you pick the most cost-effective or most advanced form of every individual technology your workloads need, possibly choosing to use a database from one provider and an application development environment from another. When the same workload is deployed to multiple independent clouds, it reduces the risk of downtime due to a cloud outage as well as reducing the risk of vendor lock-in.

As with hybrid cloud, multi-cloud requires having personnel to support multiple environments. The challenges may be more intense with multi-cloud as each environment requires managing a separate vendor relationship. If the environments need to be integrated, the same challenges exist as with hybrid cloud. When the environments aren’t integrated and serve as duplicates for risk-reduction, the biggest challenge is ensuring that the environments are in synch and that they provide the same functionality. You may be unable to take advantage of a beneficial feature in one environment if it doesn’t exist in the other cloud. Ensuring all environments provide appropriate security is another potential challenge.

Making More Than One Cloud Work

Either hybrid cloud or multi cloud can be the right solution for your technology needs, depending on your business objectives. Because of the challenges involved in creating these environments, it’s best to work with an experienced partner like dcVAST. Our team supports Infrastructure as a Servicemanaged Amazon Web ServicesNutanix hyperconverged infrastructure, and NetApp Data Fabric. Used together, these tools enable you to build and leverage hybrid or multi clouds that support your business. Contact us to learn more.