What is HybridMultiCloud and why should you care?

This past year, a new term has emerged that appears to be a combination of two terms; hybrid cloud and multi-cloud. Is this a new solution or modification of an existing solution? Or possibly is ‘HybridMultiCloud’ a juxtaposition of marketing and/or a new perspective on existing cloud usage models?


In 2017, I wrote about the differences between hybrid and multi-cloud. In my post, I outlined the differences between the two usage patterns and how each are used. To recap, hybrid cloud is a vertical approach to using public and private cloud-based solutions from a single vendor. While multi-cloud is a horizontal approach to consuming public cloud-based services from multiple cloud providers. The diagrams below depict the different approaches.

It is common that enterprises will use one public cloud provider as their dominant provider and then choose a second for specific reasons. It is less common to see an enterprise using three (or more) cloud providers.

The exception to this is when there are jurisdiction requirements either due to a) regulatory, compliance and/or privacy legislation or b) due to geographic requirements. In any case, the number of public cloud providers is often reduced to the appropriate, minimum number of providers necessary.


It is entirely possible that ‘Hybridmulticloud’ is a term that was intended to create a new degree of buzz around cloud. However, when you take a moment to understand how hybrid and multi-cloud work, you quickly realize the problem. Hybridmulticloud is not a thing on its own, but rather a combination of terms.

One could ask: What if you are using both hybrid and multi-cloud? Without getting into semantics, the hybridmulticloud term is confusing as it joins two very different operating models. The better way to state it would be: You are using both hybrid and multi-cloud approaches…not hybridmulticloud.


Some may say that I’m making a mountain out of a mole hill. Maybe so. But too often marketeers are too focused on new terms, defining them, establishing white-space and creating buzz. I get it.

However, in a world where IT is already complicated and getting more complicated, these extraneous terms just create noise and confusion in the market at a time when we need to focus on value.

Hybrid and multi-cloud are already powerful and significant opportunities for enterprises to understand. More to the point, both provide new business opportunities for different reasons. And each will require a different way of thinking to effectively leverage. Adding the complexity of a nonsense term like hybridmulticloud does nothing to help the enterprise solve their business problems. My best advice is to focus on how hybrid and multi-cloud can provide value. There is a lot of potential in each of those operating models.

Tim Crawford is ranked as one of the Top 100 Most Influential Chief Information Technology Officers (#4), Top 100 Most Social CIOs (#7), Top 20 People Most Retweeted by IT Leaders (#5) and Top 100 Cloud Experts and Influencers. Tim is a strategic CIO & advisor that works with large global enterprise organizations across a number of industries including financial services, healthcare, major airlines and high-tech. Tim’s work differentiates and catapults organizations in transformative ways through the use of technology as a strategic lever. Tim takes a provocative, but pragmatic approach to the intersection of business and technology. Tim is an internationally renowned CIO thought leader including Digital Transformation, Cloud Computing, Data Analytics and Internet of Things (IoT). Tim has served as CIO and other senior IT roles with global organizations such as Konica Minolta/ All Covered, Stanford University, Knight-Ridder, Philips Electronics and National Semiconductor. Tim is also the host of the CIO In The Know (CIOitk) podcast. CIOitk is a weekly podcast that interviews CIOs on the top issues facing CIOs today. Tim holds an MBA in International Business with Honors from Golden Gate University Ageno School of Business and a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Information Systems from Golden Gate University.

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