Hybrid Cloud vs. Multi-Cloud Networking Architectures:
Differences, Benefits, and When to Use Them

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Today, there is no one-size-fits-all for cloud computing architectures. The cloud has burgeoned into a dynamic and highly intricate entity, and there are many different strategies organizations can pursue when building architectures within it. As systems become increasingly distributed, it has become commonplace for organizations to deploy their applications across several environments at once.

There are many reasons why an organization would want to adopt a hybrid cloud or multi-cloud architecture. The terms are often used interchangeably and an infrastructure can be either one or both at the same time. In this article, we will explore how they differ and the respective advantages of each.

What is a hybrid cloud architecture?

Hybrid cloud architectures run workloads in a public cloud as well as in a private cloud or on-premise data center. In the public cloud, they tap into a collective pool of resources that multiple other organizations also use. While they don’t directly interact with another organization’s services, they do use shared resources just as many individuals can use a single bank without affecting each other’s balances. In the private cloud, the organization builds their own cloud, or they pay an external vendor to host the cloud for them. They might also maintain their own on-premise data center that stores the data for them.

What are the benefits of hybrid cloud architectures?

The hybrid cloud architecture is a powerful tool for organizations, offering cost-saving, scalability, flexibility, reliability, and security.

With a hybrid cloud architecture, you can take advantage of public cloud services for cost-saving, without needing to invest in your own hardware, software, and other infrastructure. It also provides you with the scalability to quickly adapt to changing customer demands, and the flexibility to tailor your cloud services to meet specific business needs.

Hybrid cloud architectures offer the reliability organizations need to remain operational. By leveraging multiple public and private clouds, you can maintain the highest levels of redundancy and uptime. Last but not least, hybrid cloud architectures provide you with the ability to deploy your applications across multiple cloud providers, allowing you to better secure data and applications from potential threats.

When are hybrid cloud architectures used?

A hybrid cloud setup may be a temporary phase of a wider cloud migration project. For example, a company may run legacy services in VMs or bare servers in an internal data center while also introducing microservices to a container orchestrator in a public cloud provider. A hybrid cloud setup may also be required in industries, such as healthcare and financial services, that handle sensitive information and are highly regulated. Sensitive information can be stored in internal data centers, while less sensitive information in the cloud.

The best hybrid cloud architectures allow organizations to move workloads freely between public and private clouds. This is often best accomplished with a two-layer architecture, such as one enabled by the Traefik Provider in Traefik Enterprise. This allows organizations to route requests to other Traefik Enterprise instances. It also offers hybrid support for both legacy and cloud native applications.

What is a multi-cloud architecture?

Rather than running a set of workloads in a single cloud provider, organizations leveraging multi-cloud architectures use several. They might have one Kubernetes deployment running in GKE and GCP, some containers running as ECS services in AWS, and maybe a few VMs running in Azure. These workload types are interchangeable across different cloud providers. Hyperscale cloud providers have long competed with each other for market share, and multi-cloud architectures allow companies to take advantage of several.

What are the benefits of multi-cloud architectures?

There are many benefits to this approach. Multi-cloud architectures increase resilience and fault tolerance. While you hopefully don’t need to plan for a major public cloud outage, it’s still a good idea to have a risk mitigation strategy that spreads your deployments across vendors. A multi-cloud architecture could be part of an overall strategy for cost optimization, as different cloud providers might have comparable services at varying prices. Multi-cloud architectures also help you avoid the vendor lock-in that comes from putting all your eggs in one basket (just be careful of avoiding multi-cloud lock-in).

When are multi-cloud architectures used?

Cloud computing allows access to computing power that was once owned only by a handful of large organizations and was available only in data centers. Today, multi-cloud architectures are being widely used for many different use cases, most notably for disaster recovery, failover, data sovereignty, and getting access to specialized services.

  • Disaster recovery: With organizations witnessing a quick upturn in cloud technology, the need for an on-premises backup began to decline. Especially since cloud-based data can now be retrieved just as quickly as they used to with on-premises infrastructure. Organizations that adopt cloud architectures often use multiple public clouds to store data which helps reduce the risk of storing both production and backup data with one provider.
  • Failover: If one public cloud experiences an outage, organizations have systems in place to move their applications to a secondary public cloud in order to ensure that mirrored copies of their active production data remain hosted.
  • Data sovereignty: Organizations that must comply with data residency standards can utilize a multi-cloud approach to guarantee their data adheres to legal requirements. By leveraging multiple public cloud providers with different physical locations, they can ensure their data is stored in the correct geographical regions.
  • Accessibility to specialized services: Organizations can take advantage of feature sets from multiple cloud providers and utilize specialized functionalities of each that fit their specific use case.
Case Study: AmeriSave Accelerates Cloud Migration with Traefik EnterpriseLearn how Traefik Enterprise has helped AmeriSave with the journey from on-prem to cloud native.Read the Case Study

Hybrid cloud vs. multi-cloud

While the two architectures may seem very similar and they both, indeed, offer a great deal of flexibility, they are not the same.

The key difference between hybrid cloud and multi-cloud architectures is that in hybrid cloud the public and private cloud infrastructure is integrated, while in multi-cloud the infrastructure is separate. Hybrid cloud provides users with a single platform for all their cloud computing needs, as the public and private cloud components are integrated. Multi-cloud, on the other hand, offers users more flexibility, by allowing them to pick and choose different cloud services from different providers. However, this can lead to increased complexity and higher costs for managing multiple cloud providers.

Summing up

Whether you choose to go for a hybrid cloud or multi-cloud architecture, it’s important to carefully weigh the pros and cons of each and evaluate the needs of your organization. Regardless, high-quality networking stacks like Traefik Enterprise can make all the difference. Its unified cloud native networking solution eases microservice networking complexity and works across hybrid and multi-cloud environments.

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References and further reading

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