Hybrid Cloud versus Multi-Cloud Explained
Last week, in my blog post [IBM announces the new FlashSystem 9100], I mentioned that IBM offered various "Multi-Cloud" solutions to complement the FlashSystem storage system.
Several readers have asked me what is the difference between Hybrid Cloud and Multi-Cloud. The two phrases are used in various contexts, not just by IBM, but also by our competitors, as well as the press and industry analysts.
A hybrid cloud attempts to develop a single platform to run a specific Cloud workload. This single platform combines two or more of the following resources:
A Hybrid Cloud is like the United Nations peacekeeping force. A single force, with a single mission, representing the combined resources of many countries.
A Hybrid Cloud is a deployment model that might offer advantages over just using a Private Cloud, or just using a Public Cloud.
A practical example is Tennis Australia. For three weeks every January, they run the Australian Open, a tennis tournament, with over 4,000 employees, and millions of views to their website each day. For the rest of the year, they have only about 300 employees, and manage quite well to run smaller tournaments for high-school and college students, as well as plan for next year's event.
In this case, a Hybrid Cloud that combines perhaps two racks of an on-premise private Cloud, combined with the incredible power of IBM Cloud, gives them the variability and agility needed to run smoothly without wasting CAPEX on equipment they don't need.
Many "Hybrid Cloud" products focus on being the "glue" that combines two different resources together. This can be at the management layer, the data layer, the application layer, or the infrastructure layer.
In contrast, a Multi-Cloud represents a deployment strategy for different Cloud workloads. One workload might be better served on a Private Cloud, another workload might be better served on a Public Cloud, and a third workload, as we saw above, might benefit from the combined resources of a Hybrid Cloud.
In the past, people felt that all Cloud Service Providers were the same. Just as people buy gasoline from which ever gas station offers the lowest prices, many just chose their Cloud Service Provider based entirely on the costs involved. Loyalty can change the minute new price tables are published.
But today, Cloud Service Providers have made an effort to provide differentiation. For example, your Multi-Cloud might have three Hybrid Clouds. One cloud platform combines your on-premise Private Cloud with IBM Cloud, another combines your on-premise Private Cloud with Amazon Web Services, and a third combines your on-premise Cloud with Microsoft Azure.
In this case, a Multi-Cloud is like the various armed forces. You might deploy the Army for one mission, the Navy for another, and the Air Force or Marines for a third.
Many "Multi-Cloud" products focus on being versatile and multi-purpose. For example, the same FlashSystem 9100 that you deploy in your "Analytics Cloud" platform could also be useful for your "Docker Container Cloud" platform, or your "DevOPS Cloud" platform. IBM's various Multi-Cloud Solutions provide the additional software and services needed to complement the FlashSystem 9100 to pull this off.
Deciding to use a Multi-Cloud strategy is mostly a business decision. Deploying a Hybrid Cloud as one of your Multi-Cloud platforms could be a combination of business and technical decision.