Multicloud vs. Hybrid Cloud: What’s The Difference?
The term hybrid cloud is often conflated with multicloud because they’re seemingly the same. Both types of cloud computing refer to a combination of services that deliver consistent output. But while there are similarities, hybrid and multicloud are distinctly different.
Hybrid cloud refers to the use of public and private services — either hosted onsite or in a private cloud server — to create a seamless cloud experience. In many cases, public clouds are used to temporarily increase storage or compute requirements on demand.
Multicloud, meanwhile, combines services from multiple providers — everything from Software as a Service and Platform as a Service offerings to cloud-native apps and even microservice components — each designed to fulfill a specific purpose.
Although multicloud management is often much more complex than managing a hybrid environment, multicloud offers IT departments a lot more visibility and control over spending, implementation and use.
Key Benefits of Multicloud for Higher Ed
A move to multicloud would offer three key benefits for education:
- Better access to resources: Moving from onsite server stacks to outsourced multicloud services can help post-secondary schools improve overall resource access. Consider an onsite campus email service: While increasing servers and storage space may have sufficed to meet the demands of in-person learning, hybrid classes tend to push these solutions to the brink. After all, these on-premises solutions were never designed to handle that many distributed access requests. But if a university partners with a cloud-based email provider, it can offload storage and service management to robust and redundant servers that are capable of scaling.
- Targeted service use: A multicloud approach also lets schools pick and choose the specific services they want. For example, research departments might choose cutting-edge, cloud-based artificial intelligence systems for data processing. Engineering teams may want access to cloud-driven GPUs capable of rendering complex drawings in real time. IT teams may opt for security-specific offerings that help safeguard data. A multicloud solution can meet all of these needs.
- Reduced IT costs: Large-scale public or private cloud platforms may come with the benefit of uniform environments, but it also increases spending — especially if schools are paying for apps and services they don’t use. The granular nature of multicloud, on the other hand, allows educational institutions to control costs with pay-as-you-go models.
Examples of Multicloud Use Cases in Higher Education
What does multicloud adoption look like in practice? Pennsylvania State University offers an example: The institution has partnered with Google Cloud, AWS and Microsoft Azure to improve service accessibility for staff and students. The Penn State IT department also helps users learn more about each platform and how its services can be deployed to meet educational needs.
To improve data storage and collaboration, the University of California, Los Angeles offers students and staff access to solutions such as Google Apps and Box.
While multicloud isn’t mandatory for distributed computing success, it can help higher education streamline resource access, deliver targeted service use and control overall costs by offering more choices for users — and more control for IT teams.