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Private and public cloud architectures have been around long enough that most business leaders have a basic understanding of what they are and the benefits they offer. But things get murkier when you start talking about hybrid cloud and multicloud. How do these architectures differ from private and public cloud? And how do hybrid and multicloud approaches differ from each other?

Market research reports indicate that hybrid cloud adoption is on the rise, and there are also reports that suggest that the number of companies that have a multicloud architecture is growing. And of course, it’s expected that both architectures will find their way into enterprises sooner or later. But deciphering just how well enterprises understand the differences between hybrid cloud and multicloud isn’t clear cut. 

So, let’s start with the basics. A hybrid cloud architecture combines two or more public or private cloud environments, where the different clouds are separate, yet connected. This means an enterprise can run some workloads in the private cloud, others in the public cloud, pull resources from either, and use the clouds interchangeably. 

A multicloud consists of multiple cloud services–public or private–from multiple cloud vendors that are not interconnected. 

In some cases, enterprises ended up with multicloud architectures because different business units sought out cloud services to tackle their specific needs, creating disconnected, multiple cloud services. That’s a challenging situation, but cloud management and automation tools can deliver greater visibility and oversight across these disparate resources. 

Not all multicloud architectures are the result of shadow IT. More and more, enterprises are actively pursuing multicloud strategies for increased flexibility. With a multicloud strategy, for example, an organization can choose cloud services from several providers in order to meet specific workload or application requirements.

Hybrid cloud and multicloud each have their advantages. Because a hybrid cloud strategy involves just one rather than multiple cloud services, it can be easier to achieve integrated networking, centralized access management and unified monitoring and management. 

A multicloud, on the other hand, means enterprises can pursue best-of-breed tactics to create cloud environments to suit their specific business needs, and can also lower risks associated with relying on just one provider by providing an available, highly-scalable backup in case the primary cloud goes dark. And a multicloud approach offers flexibility. 

To reduce poor response times for cloud users thousands of miles away from a company’s headquarters, some workloads could be hosted by regional cloud providers that operate closer to where the users are. This solution can also help the enterprise to maintain high availability and adhere to laws and regulations that require companies take particular care of personal information that may be subject to data sovereignty —that subjects data to the regulations of the country in which that data is located instead of the country of origin.

As enterprises expand their adoption of cloud architectures, it’s likely that we’ll start to see a mix of both hybrid and multicloud–let’s call it the hybrid multicloud. This is where open cloud technologies are important. 

When an enterprise’s cloud strategy consists of public, private, hybrid and multi, a consistent foundation is necessary, and our open source technologies deliver that consistency. Red Hat cloud solutions include a standard operating system that works across many environments, a container platform that packages and moves apps from cloud-to-cloud, and the tools you need to help manage and automate it all.

About the author

Dan Juengst is Sr. Principal Technology Evangelist at Red Hat.  He has 20+ years of high tech experience in areas such as DevOps, cloud computing, Platform as a Service, application performance, grid computing, and high performance computing. Juengst has held senior technical positions at CloudBees, CA Technologies, Sun Microsystems, SGI, and Wily Technology. His roots in technology originated in the Aerospace industry where he leveraged high performance compute grids to design rockets.

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