What’s the definition of Hybrid Cloud and Multi Cloud?

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Digital Transformation Architect in Software, 10,001+ employees
When people first started talking about hybrid cloud, the idea was...you're going to have some stuff running in some kind of private cloud, which is in your data center, but you're provisioning resources the way as if it were a real cloud. And then every now and then you burst out to the public cloud. I think that was the image that people had of it, five or six years ago. One of the things that I'm seeing now is “pretend cloud, fake cloud.”  I've got plenty of customers right now, who have good, solid business requirements to run in the cloud.  They've got an application that's a big hairball that was originally written 30 years ago.  They are not going to be doing containerized microservices anytime soon. So if we can just lift and shift that big monster and drop it down in a cloud, they get some benefits of efficiency.  They get some benefit of being able to handle seasonal workloads in a more effective way than they are right now. And it's more automated than a managed service. I think originally somebody would say hybrid cloud, and it was really a managed service. There's some humans in another data center somewhere.  But what I'm seeing now is a real demand and an honest business need for… not fake cloud, maybe halfway cloud, but it's legitimate. A good friend of mine is the CIO at a very small specialty clothing manufacturer. She brings in a VP of Development or IT Architect or whatever his title is, and he's like, "Oh, there's this cloud tool that I used in my last job. We're going to use that for XYZ function." But she’s going, "Well, we already started using the CRM over here." She's getting really upset because she's like, "I've got five clouds now, and I'm not feeling good about it. I am feeling really exposed on data integrity. Do I lay down the law and say, 'You can't go off running around, picking any new cloud you want for any old application you want'?" And mind you this as a small company.  They’re not having committees do evaluations of things. So she's very frustrated with a multi-cloud situation, some of which she's inherited and some of which has kind of happened organically and now she's regretting it.
CIO Strategic Advisor in Services (non-Government), 2 - 10 employees
There is no hybrid multi-cloud. The reality is, hybrid cloud is very different than multi-cloud in my view. Hybrid cloud, to me, is that separation between public cloud resources and private cloud resources, but still being able to access them with some degree of elasticity, whether it's on-prem or in the public cloud. Multi-cloud to me is not where I'm using a CRM package from one cloud vendor, and I'm using HCM from someone else, and I've got my storage with yet a third vendor.  That's not how I look at multi-cloud. I mean, everybody has multi-cloud if that's how we're going to define it.  How I look at multi-cloud is essentially one application that spans multiple public cloud providers. And so you might have a predominant public cloud provider, whether that be, Amazon or Microsoft or Google or Alibaba, but then you have secondary or tertiary providers that you use either for specific purposes, or as a fundamental extension of your existing application. And so it's one application spread across multiple cloud providers, but generally not done for the purpose of arbitration. So you're not doing it to try and pair or pit the different cloud providers against each other, but rather doing it from the perspective of this is our core cloud provider, this is who we've decided that matches with our particular needs, and then we use these other providers for very specific needs. That's how I define or differentiate between the hybrid cloud and multi-cloud.
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CEO in Software, 11 - 50 employees

I completely agree with that. In fact, I actually helped a company in San Francisco, where the man who was running IT at the time did the equivalent of bursting. We were using bursting at the time. I think that that can work in a hybrid model. But I think that's almost the only time I would ever consider the idea of hybrid cloud as a reality. Otherwise, you're talking about what it sounds like Tim is saying, which is the idea that multi-cloud is actually one application spanning multiple clouds.  Not one application, but an environment of applications, may be spread across multiple clouds as each cloud provides some level of benefit, unique to that application for the customer.  But not that you're taking your ERP system as a unit, and splitting its parts across multiple clouds, or writing code for your own applications and running it in multiple clouds. Simply put, hybrid cloud is having some form of automated infrastructure, cloud-like or not, internal or in a hosted environment somewhere, co-location facility or something, that is allowed to, or capable of, bursting out some level of demand, normally just compute to nearby cloud resources.  So if you don't have the latency covered in your compute, then what's the good of sending it out there and killing your application? So those are my simple takes on multi-cloud and hybrid cloud.

CTO in Software, 11 - 50 employees
Initially I take a very purist approach, similar to Tim's.  Multi-cloud means you're running a single application across multiple cloud providers, and you're benefiting from the availability of all of them, and mitigating against downtime. I think I'll augment that with, there's different services on the major CSPs that you want to leverage for parts of your initiative. Meaning, Google TensorFlow for ML is possibly better than SageMaker AWS, and that's a religious decision, and then you can augment, or segment that out. But I would argue that most enterprises today struggle with the single cloud strategy in management and cost efficiencies. And then if you extrapolate that across, multi-cloud, it just increases exponentially.  We're in the early days of people figuring out, "Multi-cloud?"
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CIO Strategic Advisor in Services (non-Government), 2 - 10 employees

So I'll just maybe augment that a little bit, Mike, and say that the multi-cloud, I agree with you, there's a specific reason why you might choose a second, or third, or fourth cloud provider, but there's an advantage to focusing on one. And most enterprises that I work with focus on one, and then come back, second or third for specific reasons. But getting to that hybrid cloud, I actually don't see a single-use case in production today that I'm aware of, for cloud bursting specifically. And I haven't seen that play out in the enterprise. What I have seen play out is where things like regulatory and compliance and privacy requirements start to come into play, sometimes cultural issues. We've all faced the cultural norms that fly in the face of what we can do versus what we want to do. I would love to be able to use public cloud for a given application or given data set, but I can't, for a specific reason, and so then it's pulled back locally. Whether that reason is valid or not, we can argue until the cows come home.

Senior Director, Defense Programs in Software, 5,001 - 10,000 employees
Definition is easier than use cases or reality... hybrid for me is combinations of distinct cloud infrastructures (private, community, public) that are unique but have data and application portability (and not lift-and-shift portability). Multi or poly cloud are the use of multiple, but not necessarily bound together at that depth. Folks can discuss data that flows between IDaaS and SaaS SEIM providers...

Overall I find that having a common definition is helpful for architects, security teams, reliability engineers or such to understand what they are discussing. Otherwise, the ship for us to have one definition has been sailed by marketing long ago.
Senior Information Security Manager in Software, 501 - 1,000 employees
For definitions, I use the NIST Definition of Cloud Computing.  They define hybrid cloud as: the cloud infrastructure is a composition of two or more distinct cloud infrastructures (private, community, or public) that remain unique entities, but are bound together by standardized or proprietary technology that enables data and application portability (e.g., cloud bursting for load balancing between clouds).

NIST does not have a definition of multi-cloud. But a general definition is the use of multiple cloud computing/storage services in a single network architecture.

VP Hosting and Infrastructure Services in Software, 201 - 500 employees
I may be wrong but my understanding is that Hybrid Cloud refers to Private Cloud and Public Cloud. e.g. your private Data Center connected to your Public Cloud environment. And Multi-Cloud would refer to having existence on multiple public clouds, e.g. Azure, AWS etc.
VP in Software, 10,001+ employees
It has become a stretch term and is more used interchangeable meanings. Some time back, I understand
1. Hybrid cloud includes data center virtualization, private and public cloud. Onnpremise to cloud connectivity plays important role here

2. Multi cloud is existence of multiple public clouds such as AWS, Azure, GCP or other hyperscalers in technology architect of a organization.

However, as mentioned, now a days it's most used almost with interchangeable meanings

Interesting question, looking for opinions of others. Thanks for asking.

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