Why the hybrid vs multi-cloud position is not up for debate

Why the hybrid vs multi-cloud position is not up for debate Steve Davis is marketing director at Next Generation Data, operator of NGD, Europe's largest data centre. With over 25 years in the IT and Telecoms industry he works with service provider and enterprise customer organisations on the delivery of their Big Data, HPC, Grid Computing and Cloud data storage and management requirements.

The Cloud Industry Forum’s latest study shows some 88% of UK businesses are now using the cloud with over half of these favouring the hybrid approach whereby all data is processed and stored over a combined public and private cloud infrastructure.

At the same time there’s been a debate raging for some time over the merits of a multi-cloud approach where businesses can utilise a variety of cloud services – public and private – to deliver a ‘horses for courses’ solution. 

Okay, so what’s the difference? Aren’t both approaches one and the same thing? On first pass they may appear so but the difference is that hybrid is effectively connecting a public cloud such as a Microsoft Azure, with your private on-premise cloud IT and applications. This way a business can cost-effectively access highly elastic compute resources from the chosen provider, perhaps for managing and storing additional workloads at peak times – think retailers on a ‘Black Friday’ – and for general day to applications. But all the mission critical stuff remains on-site in the private camp for various reasons, such as security and privacy regulations.

The subtle difference with multi-cloud is businesses mix and match a range of public and private clouds to achieve best of breed applications and services. In practice, however, it may well be the case that only one public cloud service such as Azure is selected for delivery of day to day applications and for soaking up additional processing and storage requirements at busy times, while several private cloud IT systems are deployed for ensuring optimum sharing of workloads using a mix of specialist apps and services.   

There’s no one size fits all. One provider or cloud infrastructure may not necessarily provide the optimum solutions for each and every workload or application. In either case, there will be pros and cons and which route to take will ultimately be decided on a case specific basis.

This said there’s no longer any reason to limit your options by going for a one or the other approach.  Why not have both hybrid and multi-cloud solutions at your disposal as and when? And with the availability of solutions such as Azure Stack the exact same cloud experience can be replicated privately on-premise.

Much, as always, depends on the resources of the data centre(s) being used.  Whether hybrid, multi-cloud or a mix of both, there is one thing they must have in common for making everything interoperate seamlessly, securely and consistently: Connectivity.

More to the point, high speed low latency connectivity and plenty of it for ensuring sufficient redundancy and failover options. However, these multi and hybrid cloud environments are only going to be as good as the weakest link; the public cloud’s connection to the data centre.

This increasingly calls for data centres that bypass the internet with cloud gateways, allowing faster, more secure virtual private network connections directly into global public cloud network infrastructures, such as Microsoft’s Azure ExpressRoute.                 

Aside from this and the requisite level of scalable power to rack the other key factor to consider is a data centre’s level of engineering competence, necessary not only for configuring and interconnecting these complex environments, but also for helping businesses bring their legacy IT into the equation – older equipment and software which is still playing a critical role and just too valuable to sideline.

With the right data centre, there’s no longer a need to debate whether hybrid is better than a multi-cloud model. Businesses are free to follow a best of breed cloud strategy using a best of all worlds approach to deliver the right applications and services at the right time to exactly where they’re needed – quickly, securely and consistently.           

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