Multi-Cloud vs. Hybrid Cloud: 10 Key Comparisons


Today, the cloud ecosystem includes infrastructure, compliance, security, and much more. A multi-cloud system includes multiple clouds sourced from different vendors, which can either be private or public. On the contrary, a hybrid cloud system is a cloud deployment model that combines different cloud types, unlike the multi-cloud system. But what makes a multi-cloud system distinct from a hybrid cloud? This article breaks it down and discusses the similarities and differences between multi-cloud and hybrid cloud in depth.

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What Are Multi and Hybrid Cloud Storage Systems?

Multi-cloud and hybrid cloud are cloud deployment models that integrate more than one cloud. A typical multi-cloud infrastructure integrates different clouds of a similar type, while a hybrid cloud blends two or more clouds of different types.

According to Flexera’s 2021 State of the Cloud Report, around 92% of organizations employ a multi-cloud strategy, out of which 82% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy in place. To understand the difference between multi and hybrid cloud storage, consider a simple analogy, where a hybrid cloud combines two fruit categories of bananas and grapes. Meanwhile, multi-cloud may simply combine different types of bananas. As such, the cloud infrastructure underlying these cloud models differs fundamentally.

Hybrid Cloud vs. Multi-Cloud Operations

Let’s break down each cloud deployment model further.

Multi-cloud storage systems

In a multi-cloud system, an enterprise collaborates with several vendors that provide multiple cloud services of the same type. The enterprise benefits out of this model as it presents the following advantages:

  • Enables a company to use best-in-class services for each app or task
  • Reduces the risk of vendor lock-in
  • Ensures that cloud teams are dependent on the right cloud solution
  • Allows better business planning by opting for the most affordable services

Today, multi-cloud setups involve the active participation of public cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Microsoft (Azure), IBM, and others. Here, every cloud in the setup manages a specific workload. This implies that the involved infrastructures lack workload integration of any sort. 

Let’s review some of the most common use cases and scenarios where a company may opt for a multi-cloud deployment model. 

  • If a business is already using the services of a public cloud provider, and another vendor offers services that are not provided by the current provider, such as in IaaS, PaaS, or SaaS.
  • An enterprise decides to expand its infrastructure to enhance its productivity, efficiency, security, and control expenditure.
  • As a part of a backup strategy, the cloud management team of an enterprise wants to set up a public cloud infrastructure.
  • A company has a global customer base and wants to ensure that its customers do not face latency issues while accessing its services.
  • In an organization, each department has a specific need while using a cloud service. As such, business stakeholders can decide to invest in separate platforms that meet the specific needs of each department.
  • In cases where an organization must store specific data in respective geographic locations, considering legal compliance and requirements.
  • An enterprise that has a 24×7 requirement of high data availability.

Also Read: Cloud vs. On-premise Comparison: Key Differences and Similarities

Hybrid cloud storage systems

In a hybrid cloud environment, an enterprise blends a public cloud either with a private cloud or an on-premise data center. A popular example of a hybrid cloud strategy is running an app code on an in-house environment and cloud bursting into a public cloud system during high-traffic times to better manage peak IT demands. 

Hybrid cloud systems call for sophisticated orchestration between disparate cloud platforms. This is not observed in a multi-cloud environment. The objective is to develop a unified space where separate systems interact, communicate, and manage the same IT workloads.

Let’s look at some common use cases and scenarios where an organization could opt for a hybrid cloud model.

  • A company is not interested in moving its entire gamut of services and data to the cloud.
  • A company decides to test and validate a cloud computing platform before migrating its resources and workloads.
  • An enterprise is unwilling to move away from its in-house setup or on-premise data center.
  • An organization that needs a centralized identity infrastructure across disparate systems.
  • A company with a DevOps team prefers a blend of self-service resources (private cloud) and a platform to run test workloads (public cloud).
  • A business venture is unwilling to work with different vendors, tools, and resources in the immediate future.
  • A company wants to reap the benefits of cloud computing but can bear some downtime issues without the fear of losing customers.

Also Read: What Is Hybrid Cloud? Definition, Architecture, and Management Best Practices for 2021   

Multi-Cloud vs. Hybrid Cloud: 10 Key Comparisons for Differences and Similarities

For any business, an enterprise can potentially zero in on deploying two or more cloud solutions rather than just a single cloud.

With the decision to adopt multiple clouds, a business again has two choices. It can choose a hybrid cloud deployment strategy or a multi-cloud strategy depending on the needs and requirements of the business. Both these deployments have significant differences that decision-makers and business stakeholders should understand before moving to cloud.

Key similarities between multi-cloud and hybrid cloud

While there exist significant differences between multi-cloud and hybrid cloud deployment, they also exhibit subtle similarities. Below are key similarities between the two cloud deployments.

1. Store sensitive data

Multi-cloud and hybrid cloud both run on an infrastructure that combines various cloud types, i.e., an on-premises, private or public cloud. Hence, in both cases, sensitive data storage is subject to infrastructural design and business requirements. This implies, in both multi-cloud and hybrid scenarios, the critical data can either reside in an on-premise setting, on the cloud (private or public), or an in-house server.

2. Infrastructural security

Security in both multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments is heavily reliant on the system’s underlying architecture. When multiple public clouds are involved in both cases, then the security protocols of all the vendors need to be taken into consideration for upbeat infrastructural security. 

As cloud providers in both cases take the responsibility to safeguard the infrastructure from external threats and attacks, you need to collaborate with reliable vendors. Additionally, suppose you have better control over various security parameters such as system configurations, data encryption, customized access controls, endpoint security, and others. In that case, it can add to your combat arsenal irrespective of the deployed architecture, i.e., multi-cloud or hybrid.

3. Manage regulation-specific data

In scenarios where both multi-cloud and hybrid cloud setup do not include a private cloud in specific, a company must consider that public cloud storages comply with standard regulations and protocols such as PCI, HIPAA, or GDPR. This is because a public cloud provider often has more cybersecurity resources than an independent company with a private cloud. 

Hence, companies dealing with data of high regulatory standards should opt for reliable public cloud providers that offer storages located in legally suitable geographies. This enables both multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments to store regulation-specific data in a more controlled, secure and isolated environment.

4. Emphasis on regulatory compliance

As regulation-specific data becomes an integral part of the cloud computing world, both multi-cloud and hybrid cloud setups are collaborating with cloud providers that adhere to laws, regulations, guidelines and specifications essential for their business processes. This practice is followed by companies deploying both multi-cloud and hybrid cloud to ensure that they are safe from any legal punishment arising from regulatory compliance violations.

5. Complex cloud migration

Moving data (or apps) to the cloud is a complex task as it requires exhaustive usage of resources. In a multi-cloud setup, data has to be migrated to multiple clouds. This migration task can be time-consuming and challenging for a novice team. Similarly, in a hybrid cloud setting, migrating data to public clouds of different vendors requires more time, resources and skillful team. Hence, in both multi-cloud and hybrid cloud setups, cloud migration is quite complex.

Also Read: What Is Private Cloud Storage? Definition, Types, Examples, and Best Practices

Key differences between multi-cloud and hybrid cloud

The key differences between multi- and hybrid cloud deployments are outlined in the table below. 

Key Differences Between Multi-Cloud and Hybrid Cloud

Point of Comparison Multi-Cloud Hybrid Cloud
I. Architecture Multi-cloud architecture is a mix of two or more clouds of a similar type. There is no inter-cloud communication between the clouds. Also, multi-cloud lacks a single identity management system (IdM), unified logging, cloud monitoring, and alerting (LMA) stacks, or an integrated network.

In a multi-cloud environment, all kinds of data can be stored on multiple public clouds.

Hybrid cloud architecture is always a mix of at least one private cloud or on-premise datacenter and one public cloud. The involved infrastructural components share a single identity management system, unified logging, cloud monitoring, and alerting stacks, in addition to integrations between internal networks.

Hybrid clouds support high levels of interconnectivity. This allows the public environment to act as an extension of the private cloud system.


Additionally, in hybrid cloud environments, on-premise data centers or private clouds are used to store critical data. Here, public clouds do not keep any valuable data records.



II. Inter-cloud workloads Different clouds in a multi-cloud setup manage separate tasks. As such, data and associated processes operate independently of each other. Different components in a hybrid cloud setting work in sync to run a single IT solution. As a result, data and processes intersect with one another.
III. Vendor lock-in Multi-cloud facilitates vendor-independent existence for organizations as they don’t have to maintain a locked state with a single cloud provider. Multiple public clouds managing separate workloads allow vendors to be changed easily and quickly.


Besides, an enterprise can change cloud providers based on upcoming technological opportunities, service expenses, technical requirements, or geographic location.


Multi-cloud avoids vendor lock-in, allowing the business to respond, adjust, and adapt to dynamic market changes with agility.

In a hybrid setting, organizations customize the underlying environments that work in sync to fit the use case under consideration. As such, there is a requirement for high-level integration between an on-premise system and the public cloud. Such an arrangement makes it even more difficult to move to a new vendor. This can also cause significant downtime if at all vendor transition takes place.
IV. Availability High availability is one of the driving factors of a multi-cloud environment. It gives enterprises a reliable cloud backup system with an additional standby facility. This implies that if one of the vendors has a temporary issue, the entire workload can be shifted to another vendor’s cloud. As a result, the end users do not experience any downtime issues.


Additionally, a multi-cloud setting enables companies to set up individual public clouds nearby to users’ locations. This solves the latency issue significantly for users.

In a hybrid cloud system, maintaining 24×7 availability is solely dependent on the in-house teams as most of the workload operates on-premise or on the private cloud.

Consider a scenario where an app experiences a sudden spike in traffic, and there’s a public cloud failure. In such cases, cloud bursting isn’t feasible due to public cloud problems. In such cases, the hybrid system can be problematic as downtime is inevitable here.

Hence, a hybrid cloud setup cannot provide any solution other than evolving into a multi-cloud system.

V. Cost In a multi-cloud setting, a company is not liable to pay for data centers or in-house systems. However, the concerned teams must be well aware of the cloud computing expenses to avoid unnecessary expenditure. A hybrid system with a private cloud does not face any issue of over expenditure as the system only has a single public cloud. However, a company planning to set up a private cloud system must also hire qualified staff to seamlessly manage the hybrid environment.


The company is also responsible for equipment and maintenance costs, apart from the staff and public cloud expenses.

Multi-cloud vs. hybrid cloud vs. distributed cloud

In a hybrid cloud, one can explore the cloud-based architecture without abandoning the existing applications. This implies that you can experiment on new applications in a cloud setting while maintaining the legacy apps on-premises. Hybrid clouds scale on-demand as they strive to modernize user experiences by using the latest cloud tech such as AI and ML.

On the other hand, multi-clouds enable you to access multiple clouds and data centers to accomplish varied tasks. It allows you to spread your applications to several cloud environments while avoiding vendor lock-in. Thus, the multi-cloud setting can be considered a subset of hybrid cloud, where a hybrid cloud can potentially be used as one of its multiple cloud environments.

With multi-cloud, you gain availability and can handle more workloads than a hybrid cloud. Moreover, it provides better visibility and governance than hybrid cloud, especially when managing shadow IT cases, where a particular group of employees works in a different cloud than the enterprise’s cloud.

Lastly, the distributed cloud is known to distribute public cloud services to different physical locations while using a single control pane to better manage those services’ operations and governance (e.g., GDPR). Thus, you can continue using multi-cloud environments and access resources irrespective of their locations.

Distributed cloud gives you more consistency than multi and hybrid cloud as it can effectively monitor different cloud environments from one core location and make secure updates in those clouds effortlessly.


Multi-cloud and hybrid cloud setups are distinct cloud deployment models that suit specific use cases. Both models give easy access to cloud computing platforms and offer business services in an effective manner. However, while selecting a cloud deployment model for a workload or migrating data to a new cloud, ensure that you consider the pros and cons of different cloud strategies.

As such, concerned stakeholders and decision-makers should be aware of the differences between the hybrid and multi-cloud strategies before selecting a model best suited to their specific business needs.

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