The latest buzz word of the day is multi cloud and its usage with the enterprise. Lots of confusion and speculation but what does multi cloud really mean? Are we all talking about the same thing when we say Multi cloud? Because there are different cloud services offering types the meaning of multi cloud can have different meanings.

A perfect example was when I was recently part of theCUBE’s  VMworld recap crowdchat and the topic of multi cloud came up. I had asked the question to the audience what does multi cloud mean. To my expectations the answers were varied. Some felt multi cloud meant IaaS only while others considered the use of any combinations of SaaS PaaS and IaaS. The misunderstandings of which multi cloud was present on the panel that I was a panelist on during Opening Acts. Everyone had differing opinions on what Multi Cloud was. One common theme was that there were all different.

Hmm… Perhaps we have a problem now? We’ve got this term or buzzword that means different things for different people. This can cause confusion, with that assumptions can be made when having these multi cloud discussions.


Breaking It all Down…

Let’s get back to basics and break it down to the different cloud services and what they are:

Software as a service (SaaS) – uses the web to deliver applications that are managed by a third-party vendor and is not hosted on your premises. SaaS offering types include email and collaboration, customer relationship management, and monitoring and service delivery. Common SaaS are Microsoft Office 365, Service Now, Salesforce and Concur.

Platform as a Service (PaaS) –platform base service that allows customers to develop, run, and manage applications without the complexity of building and maintaining the infrastructure typically associated with developing and launching an app. An example of PaaS is web apps , Functions and SQL Database services deployed from Azure.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)- this can also be referred to as Hardware as a Service. Which is a service model for delivering and managing remote datacenter infrastructures, such as compute (virtualized or bare metal), storage, networking, and networking services (e.g. firewalls). With IaaS you are still responsible to monitor and maintain your “servers”. Popular IaaS are Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Compute Engine (GCE)

Adding Up the Clouds

Now that we defined the cloud services can we answer what Multi Cloud means? According to Wikipedia’s definition of multi cloud means:

Multicloud is the use of multiple cloud computing and storage services in a single heterogeneous architecture. This is also known as a Polynimbus[1] cloud strategy. This also refers to the distribution of cloud assets, software, applications, etc. across several cloud-hosting environments. With a typical multicloud architecture utilizing two or more public clouds as well as multiple private clouds, a multicloud environment aims to eliminate the reliance on any single cloud provider. 

Hmm… Isn’t this really multiple reference points for your data?

A combination of SaaS and PaaS means you are Multi Cloud.

If you are using multiple SaaS offerings you are Multi Cloud.

When you are using SaaS and IaaS you are multi cloud.

Any combination of the cloud services, of that definition you are using multi cloud.

I’m sure there will be some that say that’s not what I am talking about or that’s not the multi cloud I am referring too. My suggestion, take it with a grain of salt, is to clarify which type of multi cloud you are referring too so that everyone is on the same page. This will certainly level set everyone and reduce the confusion. Now let’s get some multi clouds rolling!