14 min

Thousands of organisations have tried moving all their infrastructure and applications towards the public cloud. Some succeeded, some didn’t, some even moved back to an on-premises data center (private cloud). Today most organisations believe a hybrid multi-cloud strategy is the best way to go. But what is a hybrid multi-cloud strategy? To answer that question, we asked the vendors active in this area.

We have reached out to AWS, Microsoft, Google, Oracle, Dell Technologies, HPE, Lenovo, Red Hat, VMware and Nutanix to learn how they look at the hybrid multi-cloud. Many organisations are trying to innovate, leverage cloud solutions, and look for ways to modernize their infrastructure. All these vendors are selling solutions to help customers on their cloud journey and reach those goals. They can’t ignore the hybrid cloud approach many customers are currently taking, or can they?

To structure the story, we grouped the answers (and our analyses of the answers) by type vendor type. That is, we look at the hyperscalers first, then analyse the answers from the ‘classic’ hardware vendors, before we finish with VMware and Nutanix, who offer a layer across on-premises and clouds.

How will organisations manage their hybrid multi cloud infrastructure in the near future?

When you choose a hybrid multi cloud infrastructure you will have to manage your applications, workloads, and data in multiple infrastructures. That is not easy if the technologies used by each platform are different. This is not limited to the hypervisor, but also security policies, networking and even the way data is stored. In the past, you needed a different team with their own skillsets for every infrastructure you used. Some vendors are bridging those gaps, but not all.  

The hyperscalers; AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure and Oracle Cloud

All hyperscalers confirm that almost every organisation runs in multiple clouds. According to Google 89% of the organisations are active in multiple clouds, and Oracle states 98% of the organisations are running in at least two clouds. Google, Microsoft and Oracle agree that the multi-cloud is here to stay, and organisations simply choose the best solution for their innovations. AWS believes customers should choose one cloud. You can guess which one they think that is. They strongly believe multi-cloud adds too much complexity, and organisations should specialize in one cloud. We think that ship has sailed, and so does every other hyperscaler,


“Customers want more choice, and if possible they want to levigate lock-in. Some customers think they can be resilient against lock-in by choosing multiple cloud providers. But that is adding more complexity. They have to think what they want to achieve. It’s better to increase knowledge and make better infrastructure choices, build modular architecture. Change architecture stack and understand your use cases.”


“Organizations are looking to accelerate their cloud adoption to develop faster, innovate more easily, and scale more efficiently. There is no one single cloud provider that has everything that a dynamic business needs, which is leading to the rapid adoption of multicloud. […] It is not simply about ‘lifting-and-shifting’ old IT infrastructure to a cloud for cost savings and convenience but driving digital transformation by inventing new ways to accomplish business objectives using the best of breed services from different cloud providers.”


“As organizations continue to adopt multi-cloud strategies, there will be a growing need for tools and services that enable seamless data and workload migration across different cloud environments.”


“Multi-cloud is the reality of enterprise technology environments as these organizations look to get the right mix of solutions and capabilities they need to operate effectively. Multi-cloud is here to stay, and enterprises are choosing this model for the benefits it provides for a range of different business and operational requirements, like business agility, performance, cost, or access to best-of-breed technology.”

Microsoft believes in more standardized and interoperable cloud technologies

What is also interesting is that Microsoft believes that more clouds will become standardized and interoperable. “This will likely lead to the development of more standardized and interoperable cloud technologies, as well as the emergence of new tools and services that facilitate multi-cloud management and integration.” Microsoft is developing tools for the multi-cloud. They have a close partnership with Oracle to run workloads and data in both clouds without egress costs. The recent addition of Oracle hardware to Azure data centers extends this collaboration further. Oracle also mentions the benefits of their Azure partnership.

AWS thinks interoperability requires standards and standards take a lot of time. The best way to be interoperable is to use Kubernetes. That doesn’t support everything, but it’s a start. Google thinks interoperability shouldn’t be about lift and shift, but about transformation. How can you make an application better for your business? Which data do you need, and where do you need the data? Lift-and-shift doesn’t solve any challenges.

The vendors: Dell Technologies, HPE, Lenovo and Red Hat

When we look at the traditional hardware vendors, they focus on hybrid cloud because that is their sweet spot. Some of them also offer some related services in the public cloud. They all agree that customers look for a single pane of glass to manage everything. Dell Technologies highlights that Microsoft Arc and VMware Aria work well with their own platform but lack features on other platforms.

HPE and Lenovo focus on how they have implemented the cloud approach in the on-premises world by offering their infrastructure solutions as a service and even in a pay-per-use model. The benefits of the cloud in your own data center. Dell Technologies doesn’t focus on this in their answers, but most of their new APEX portfolio is also based on this principle.

Where HPE and Dell Technologies focus a lot on saying customers have the desire for a single pane of glass, Red Hat, on the other hand, states it’s not about a single pane of glass. According to Red Hat, it’s about a consistent software infrastructure with applications that can run everywhere, from Edge to on-premises data centers to public cloud. Customers want to get rid of silos, especially data silos. In saying this, Red Hat seems to agree with AWS when it comes to standardisation.

We think it’s about both. Since IT teams were pushed during COVID to innovate, most organisations have created a giant wish list for new innovations. IT teams need more people or more time to work on these innovations, which puts easier management, less fragmentation, and more automation to manage their infrastructure on the wish list of IT Teams.


“The world has become hybrid, and hybrid environments are becoming increasingly complex, distributed, and fragmented. It is becoming more challenging to manage vast amounts of data securely from data centers, the edge, and the cloud. […] Organizations desire an intuitive cloud management experience that enables the secure automation of environment management through a unified, cloud-native console from edge to cloud. They want to manage the environment holistically with a global view and insight into usage, at lower costs with optimal flexibility.”

Dell Technologies:

“We are all seeing the aim for a one control plane that rules them all, there are some good initiatives within the hypervisor vendors (Microsoft ARC, VMware Aria) but they all have their sweetspot, working nicely for the native hypervisor, but lacking some features on the others. What we encounter is that companies choose one management environment (based on what hypervisor is their majority) and use that one.“


“Technology developments enable organizations more and more to combine on-premise or private cloud environments on the one hand with public cloud environments on the other hand. For these reasons, we will see that larger organizations will evolve into hybrid cloud environments, which combine on-premise solutions with public cloud, more and more, as opposed to the trends of the last decade to move workloads as much as possible towards public cloud-only.”

Also read: Lenovo TruScale still in the starting blocks, substantial expansion on the way

Red Hat:

“Hybrid cloud management is best thought of as having consistent software infrastructure and processes from edge locations to on-premises data centers to public clouds. It’s less about having a single pane of glass nirvana that seamlessly handles all aspects of management in one place, and more about thoughtfully avoiding fragmented silos. This is one reason that we’re starting to see Kubernetes implemented in edge sites to complement Kubernetes running in data centers.”

Vendors don’t agree on multi-cloud compatibility

Lenovo is team Microsoft, if it comes down to more multi-cloud compatibility. They believe public cloud providers are challenged more and more as the integration between on-premises and public cloud continues.

HPE and Dell Technologies don’t expect cloud providers to offer more compatibility. They feel these providers are too different, and the focus is on more and more cloud services.  Which makes it even harder to make the public cloud more compatible. Dell Technologies also states that “the hotel California model is much easier”. They both agree that the closest thing to compatibility can be found in Infrastructure-as-Code platforms, where you can make different environments as similar as possible if you look at resources, security, data sovereignty and data. Developers send a command that the platform transforms into native cloud configurations.

Red Hat states that lift and shift has never been an interesting goal in general. Distributing workloads and data across a compatible software infrastructure for business resilience has. This is where Kubernetes comes into play again. HPE agrees to this to some extent. They state that lift and shift sounds nice but usually means hefty bills, especially when a lot of data is involved.

Hyperscalers all have their own on-premises solutions for hybrid cloud

Hyperscalers do offer compatibility with their own solutions for on-premises data centers. AWS has Outpost, Microsoft has Arc, Google has Google Distributed Cloud Hosted, and Oracle offers a host of @Customer offerings. They offer the possibility to get cloud infrastructure in your own data center, managed by them. What we learn from organisations is that most of these solutions are extremely expensive and offer limited features. The hardware vendors offer better solutions but are not compatible.

VMware and Nutanix are the real hybrid multi-cloud vendors

VMware and Nutanix are a category on their own. They have both built a software platform that works on-premises, but also as a layer on top the of the public cloud. With VMware and Nutanix you can create a real hybrid multi-cloud infrastructure that is fully compatible. The downside however is that you have to pay for both. You have to pay the public cloud provider or the on-premises hardware vendor, but also the licenses for the VMware or Nutanix platform.

Both companies state the customer wants a single pane of glass to manage all their infrastructure. A portal where cloud migrations are possible or even automated based on performance, capacity and costs.

Also read: Nutanix cloud vision for the next 10 years; run your workloads everywhere


“The Cloud is more and more divided into two distinct topics, one being the enabling technology and the other being the operational model. An efficient control plane that organizations are demanding should be supported through a single view that enables them to have a unified approach on utilization of the resources. This optimum of utilization should be aligned to defined objectives on performance, financial and capacity thresholds and in and automated fashion”


“Nutanix believes a true multi-cloud infrastructure is one where you can manage all workloads, on all clouds from the same single pane of glass. It also created a cloud-like experience on-prem with selfservice and marketplace applications. Nutanix also believes a good control plane should offer easy cloud migrations, from Azure to AWS and back to on-prem.”

VMware and Nutanix both offer multi-cloud compatibility trough a layer on top of the different infrastructures and don’t see that changing anytime soon. Nutanix states that the network technology of the public cloud are so differently build, it will be near impossible to make those compatible.

Also read: VMware Cloud up to date again with NSX+, vSAN Max and better security

Broadcom is acquiring VMware, Nutanix in bed with Cisco

VMware is currently being acquired by Broadcom and that doesn’t help either. The IT industry doesn’t trust Broadcom because of the way it handled previous acquisitions. They expect higher license fees, less support and even less innovation. Broadcom and VMware have declared this will not be the case, but VMware already started implementing questionable changes to their licensing, which proofs otherwise.

Nutanix changed its strategy by focusing on becoming profitable and less on growth. They also recently announced a partnership with Cisco. The goal is to create a stronger front against Broadcom, but it also means the license fees are not going down anytime soon. Nutanix is however a far more easier solution than VMware. Which can help them reach more cloud adoption

Nobody is using a single fully hybrid multi-cloud platform yet

What some vendors want you to believe is that many organisations have already adopted a true hybrid cloud platform. That is not true. We talked to several sources which all tell us that nobody is actively using VMware on AWS, Azure or Google Cloud. VMware Cloud Foundation is deployed a lot, but that is software for your on-premises environment, not for the public cloud.

A man is standing on stage in front of a large screen.

VMware showed a slide during its VMware Explore Barcelona keynote last year. It showed that on average, 550 new VMs are deployed to VMware on AWS each month. That’s a very limited number. Many enterprise organisations still have thousands of VMs. We asked again about cloud deployments during VMware Explore in the US this year. We were told thousands of customers are using VMware in the cloud to run workloads. That is thousands as in single digits, not tens of thousands. Still not that many. VMware CEO Raghu Raghuram also indicated that there’s a lot to gain for VMware in this respect. He said during an interview at VMware Explore US 2023 that the growth numbers look healthy, but also that there is “a lot of room to grow in customer adoption”.

The primary use case for VMware Cloud on AWS or other hyperscalers appears to be back-up and disaster recovery. That makes sense because it’s cheaper than running a complete second data center. In the cloud you can synchronize the data, only pay for storage, and only run the VMs in case of a disaster.

We tried to get some numbers from Nutanix around this topic as well. However, they didn’t want to give indications of how successful their ‘one single pane of glass’ strategy is.

Hybrid multi-cloud is actually two separated infrastructures

All the traditional hardware vendors are looking for ways to combine their on-premises data center solutions with the hyperscalers. Also, the hyperscalers are all working on on-premises offerings, but it’s simply not very convincing. Few organisations are adopting these solutions.

The most convincing hybrid solution at this moment is Kubernetes, but that means modernizing your applications. For now, and the next few years that’s probably the best way to become a fully hybrid multi cloud organisation. Put all your applications in containers and adopt a data-model that works on-premises and in the cloud as well. HPE is making all its storage solutions software defined, so it can bring them to the cloud. That can really change the way organisations manage their data.

If your organisation is simply too large and has too many VM’s, you are probably best off by choosing the best on-prem solution and the best hyperscaler for your needs. You just have to run them next to each other and hope someone will integrate them in the future.

Are their different roles for Edge, on-prem and cloud infrastructure?

The Edge has been hyped as the next big thing in IT for many years. It’s steadily growing but the next big thing it will probably never be (or always remain). It is however an important factor to consider because organisations are growing at the Edge.

All organisations we questioned agree on one thing, and that is that the Edge will grow. They also agree that every application should be able to run at the edge, on-prem and in the cloud, but the tasks are different at every location.

In most cases, a lot of data is generated at the edge. That is because OT and IT are merging. Factory machines are being connected, in the simplest use case to be monitored, in more advanced use cases to run machine learning and AI on the data that is generated. In the more advanced cases, the analyses are performed at the edge to make sure it’s in real-time and without latency. If latency is not an issue, it’s usually more cost effective to do the analyses at a central location.

It’s more efficient if you have a dozen factories to bring all the data together in a central location, so you can analyse all factories at the same time, even compare them, and make better business decisions. Also, the AI and machine learning models are usually centrally built and managed. They can, however, be deployed at the edge.

What we see at all the vendors are solutions that extend their current portfolio to the edge. Hyperscalers offer solutions that can be deployed at the edge and connected to a central cloud solution. The traditional hardware vendors have edge-servers that can be deployed anywhere and integrate very well with their data center solutions.

At VMware and Nutanix they are both working on more solutions for the edge. They have made their software available for edge-servers in recent years. Adoption, however, is still limited.


There is massive innovation happening at hyperscalers, but also at the traditional hardware vendors. The big problem is nobody is working on a fully hybrid multi-cloud solution. Any investments made towards that direction are currently overshadowed by the generative AI hype. Since OpenAI made ChatGPT available, the focus of all these companies shifted completely.

Hyperscalers never had much focus on the hybrid cloud, but generative AI has made it even worse. The traditional hardware vendors were already doing a lot more to support for hyperscale solutions. If you can offer a good on-premises data center solution that can be extended into the cloud, you have a very valuable solution. If it can also extend to the Edge it becomes even more valuable. Especially if the vendor automates most of the management and patching. These are things that Dell Technologies and HPE have been working on. Let’s just hope they didn’t get too distracted by the whole generative AI hype.

VMware and Nutanix sit on a software stack that is the closest thing to offering the best hybrid multi-cloud experience. However, this is the least cost-effective solution, because the license fees are coming on top of the on-premises and cloud infrastructure investments.

Based on all the feedback we got and information we gathered, we don’t expect a cost-effective, fully hybrid multi-cloud solution anytime soon. In the short term, we expect the most innovation in the hybrid cloud world from traditional hardware vendors.

The best strategy for organisations is to look at modernisation first, replacing applications with modern (containerised) alternatives or look at containerizing existing applications. If that is not possible or your infrastructure is simply too big or has too much legacy. The best strategy is probably to invest in a modern private cloud that you run in your own data center. With modern we mean it’s scalable like a cloud, and management, updates and patching are automated by the vendor. On top of that, you should invest in the hyperscaler that best fits your needs and use that for your modern workloads or data that needs to leverage modern analytic tools. You can also use the cloud provider for your backups and disaster recovery. With a bit of luck, the modern private cloud will grow towards your hyperscaler of choice in the upcoming years.