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What is multicloud?

Multicloud is the practice of using the services of multiple cloud providers to optimize workload performance, increase flexibility, and mitigate the risks of relying on any one vendor.

Embracing a multicloud strategy entails hand-picking cloud services from more than one cloud provider to best meet your unique business needs and accomplish specific tasks. These cloud providers might include industry giants like Microsoft Azure as well as smaller regional or specialized cloud providers.  

Using several cloud platforms simultaneously gives you access to more choices for cloud infrastructure and solutions, geographic service locations, pricing models, and technological innovations. Customizing your cloud portfolio this way lets you draw on the strengths of different providers to maximize your cloud benefits, including enhanced scalability, flexibility, agility, and security. 

In addition, a multicloud approach provides redundancy and helps ensure resiliency by spreading your workloads across the clouds of various providers. This helps reduce the impact of any potential outages or service disruptions that might arise from any single provider.

Multicloud vs. hybrid cloud 

To understand how multicloud differs from hybrid in cloud computing, you first need to understand the difference between public clouds, private clouds, and hybrid clouds:

Public cloudIn a public cloud computing model, an organization obtains cloud services over the internet from a third-party cloud provider, often on a pay-per-usage basis. Third-party cloud providers offer products and services—including storage, networking, data, analytics, app development, containers, and AI solutions—to multiple customers at once. This cloud model is sometimes referred to as a multitenant cloud due to the cloud provider’s hosting of resources that multiple customers use.  

Private cloud. A private cloud consists of dedicated cloud resources and infrastructure that are exclusively delivered to a single organization. Private cloud computing services can be delivered over the internet or on-premises through an organization’s private internal network. A private cloud can give an organization greater control, customization, and security than a public cloud. A downside of private clouds is that they may require more internal IT resources to manage and maintain than public clouds.

Hybrid cloud. This type of cloud computing combines an organization’s on-premises private cloud with the public cloud offerings of a third-party provider. In a hybrid cloud, an organization’s data and apps can consistently travel between its private and public cloud environments. Organizations often choose a hybrid cloud approach to maximize the performance and value of their on-premises IT investments.

In short, hybrid clouds consist of multiple cloud environments—usually a combination of private and public clouds that allow data and apps to be shared between them. Multicloud environments, on the other hand, involve an organization using the cloud services of multiple public cloud providers. 

For example, a retail business using a multicloud strategy might choose the services of one cloud provider to process a greater volume of transactions during peak sales seasons, another provider’s AI services to make personalized customer recommendations, and a third provider’s data analytics tools to manage inventory. By selecting best-in-class cloud services from multiple providers, the retailer increases its agility, optimizes operations, and delivers a better customer experience. 

In a multicloud approach, the cloud services offered by different providers may not be integrated with each other, which may require additional oversight on your part. However, as you’ll see in the next section, the advantages of cherry-picking cloud services from different providers to suit your particular needs can make multicloud a worthwhile strategy.


Advantages and challenges of multicloud 

Like any IT investment, there are pros and cons to adopting a multicloud strategy. Let’s look at the advantages of using multicloud platforms first:  


  • Elimination of vendor lock-in. By diversifying across multiple providers, organizations mitigate the risk of being dependent on any single vendor's services and pricing. This gives organizations other options if one provider’s offerings decline in quality or no longer meets their business needs or budget.
  • Enhanced reliability and redundancy. Distributing your workloads across clouds hosted by more than one provider helps reduce the impact to your network and business operations if any one provider undergoes an outage or service disruption. 
  • Access to best-in-class services. Rather than confining yourself to the products and services of one cloud vendor, a multicloud approach allows you to select the cloud services, infrastructure, and solutions that best fit your particular business requirements, no matter who the provider is. 
  • Optimized performance. Multicloud environments help organizations and IT teams efficiently store, process, and analyze enormous quantities of data using automation, real-time data synchronization, and AI-assisted services and features.
  • Increased flexibility and scalability. With multicloud, organizations can easily scale storage, compute, and other resources up or down as business needs change instead of committing to a predetermined amount of resources and risking paying for more than they need. 
  • Geographic diversity and compliance. Using multiple cloud providers helps organizations replicate and distribute data across various geographic regions. It also makes it easier for organizations to adhere to specific regional regulations, ensuring data sovereignty and compliance in diverse locations.  

At the same time, adopting a multicloud architecture adds a number of complexities to your IT strategy, including: 

  • Cloud administration and management. Managing more than one cloud provider means dealing with different interfaces, APIs, security models, and service levels. All this can make orchestration and monitoring more intricate.
  • Interoperability and integration. Variations in technologies, standards, and architectures can make it harder to ensure seamless interoperability and compatibility between different cloud services and platforms. 
  • Data security and compliance. Coordinating security measures like data encryption, access controls, and compliance across multiple clouds requires robust strategies to maintain consistent security standards. 
  • Cost control and management. Because pricing structures and services differ among vendors, optimizing costs across multiple cloud providers requires continuous monitoring to prevent unexpected expenses. 
  • Potential latency issues. Communication between apps and services distributed across various clouds can lead to network delays. The increased complexity of coordinating data transfers and ensuring optimal routing in a multicloud setup can result in higher latency than in a single-cloud environment.  
  • Governance and control. Centrally governing and controlling resources and policies across various cloud providers is more involved and can lead to more problems with compliance, auditing, and resource allocation.

Multicloud management

Managing a multicloud environment requires meticulous attention and planning to mitigate any challenges that may arise. Overseeing your cloud services across vendor platforms using a unified solution like Azure Arc helps streamline a number of aspects of this process, including:

Governance and resource orchestration. Managing resources in a multicloud environment means orchestrating workloads, optimizing resource allocation, and streamlining operations. Establishing a unified governance framework can help your organization maintain control, visibility, and consistency across your entire cloud infrastructure.

Cost optimization. Ensuring that your organization has allocated its resources judiciously across different cloud platforms will help prevent overspending. To eliminate unnecessary expenses, continuously monitor your company’s resource usage and employ optimization techniques like rightsizing, autoscaling, and using reserved instances. 

Security and compliance. With data scattered across multiple clouds, maintaining robust security measures is crucial. This involves implementing consistent security protocols, encryption standards, and access controls. In addition, ensuring compliance with industry regulations like GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI DSS across all of your cloud platforms will help your organization avoid penalties and data breaches.

Performance monitoring. Monitoring your organization’s resource usage, app performance, and network latency helps identify bottlenecks and optimize workflows. Continuous, proactive monitoring is essential to ensure high availability, reliability, and the best possible user experience across your multicloud infrastructure. 

Disaster recovery. A well-managed multicloud can greatly improve your disaster recovery capabilities. Ensuring redundancy across multiple cloud providers helps you mitigate the risk of a single point of failure. Plus, implementing comprehensive backup and recovery strategies helps ensure business continuity by minimizing downtime and data loss in the event of a catastrophe.


Best practices for adopting a multicloud environment 

Here are some best practices to ensure that your multicloud adoption goes as smoothly as possible and that you maximize the benefits of your cloud assets: 

Clearly define the objectives and strategy that align with your business goals. Identify your organization’s specific reasons for adopting a multicloud approach, such as cost optimization and enhanced flexibility, scalability, and innovation. This clarity will guide your decision making throughout the adoption process.

Develop a comprehensive architecture that considers the interoperability and portability of apps and data among the various cloud platforms you plan to use. Emphasize standardization and compatibility to ensure seamless integration and data transfer across your multicloud.

Take advantage of automation and orchestration tools to streamline business operations and manage workloads efficiently across multiple clouds. Implement tools that enable automated provisioning, scaling, and resource management to boost performance and minimize human errors. 

Implement robust security measures across all layers of your multicloud infrastructure. Employ encryption, access controls, identity management, and regular security audits to safeguard sensitive data and apps across all of your cloud environments.

Practice continuous monitoring and management to enhance agility and security. Regularly assess your organization’s resource usage, app performance, and security vulnerabilities. Taking a proactive approach helps you make any necessary adjustments before a problem arises. It also helps ensure you meet the performance metrics outlined by your team or organization.



    Hybrid cloud involves using private and public cloud environments together. A hybrid cloud strategy typically combines an organization’s on-premises infrastructure with a third-party provider’s cloud services. This unified platform allows an organization’s data and apps to seamlessly move between both cloud environments. 

    The official multicloud definition is the simultaneous use of services from multiple public cloud providers. In a multicloud strategy, the goal is to optimize performance, mitigate the risks of relying on any one vendor, and access a broader range of services and geographic regions. 

    In short, hybrid cloud integrates an organization’s on-premises infrastructure with the offerings of a third-party cloud provider, while multicloud is a collection of cloud services from multiple providers that an organization selects to satisfy its unique computing needs.



    Azure itself is not a multicloud platform. Instead, it’s a single cloud computing platform offered by Microsoft that contains more than 200 products and services. However, organizations can implement a multicloud strategy that includes the cloud services, solutions, and innovations that Azure offers, along with the products and solutions of other cloud providers.



    Setting up a multicloud environment involves several steps: 

    • Clearly define your objectives, requirements, and the specific cloud services you need. 
    • Choose the cloud providers that offer the services that best suit your particular needs and consider factors like pricing, security, and compliance. 
    • Implement a unified management and monitoring system to oversee your multicloud and to ensure consistency in security, governance, and performance.
    • Regularly review and optimize your multicloud to ensure it meets your changing business needs and takes advantage of the latest technological advancements.


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