All articles

Hybrid Platforms Trends Series: Supercloud - What is it, and why do we care?


Rob Sims

Hybrid Platforms

•  Jul 04, 2024

Following the last Trends series, which talked about cloud reversal and why we should run workloads on the right platform, we’ll spend this one digging into how to maximise the use of multiple public clouds. Supercloud could be used alongside many others, such as Adaptive Cloud, Sky Computing, and Meta Cloud. The trend is to put any word in front of 'cloud' to try and create something that feels new. Let’s not get trapped by the latest hype! 

In this series, we will have three parts: 

  • What is it, and why should we care? 
  • The Challenges  
  • A Journey to Supercloud 

Let's look at the definition and why it is becoming a prevalent conversation in 2024 and into 2025. 

Where did it all start? 

The term surfaced back in 2016 by a research group at Cornell University; you can check out the full definition here: Supercloud ( The key paragraph is: 

“Supercloud is a cloud architecture that enables application migration as a service across different availability zones or cloud providers. The Supercloud provides interfaces to allocate, migrate, and terminate resources such as virtual machines and storage and presents a homogeneous network to tie these resources together. The Supercloud can span across all major public cloud providers such as Amazon EC2, Microsoft Azure, Google Compute Engine, and Rackspace etc., as well as private clouds. Supercloud users have the freedom to re-locate VMs to many data centers across the world, irrespective of owner and without having to implement complex re-configuration and state re-synchronization in their applications. Using the Supercloud, an application can easily offload from an overloaded data center to another one with a different infrastructure.” 

It is interesting how the term has evolved over the years and the challenges its early adoption bumped into. If we ask ChatGPT 3.5 to 'describe the term Supercloud', we get the following response: 

"As of my last update in January 2022, the term "Supercloud" didn't have a widely accepted definition in the realm of computing or technology. However, it's possible that the term has emerged or evolved since then."  

So, six years after that first Cornell paper, we don’t have a broad definition of the term. Skip forward a few short months to ChatGPT 4, and we will get a different answer. 

"The term "Supercloud" is used primarily in the context of cloud computing to describe a cloud infrastructure that spans across multiple cloud services, typically provided by different vendors" 

It shows the pace at which technology and services are moving and why we must continually challenge the norms and look for how to leverage technology to drive that desired outcome. Part of the challenge the early concept faced was that many organisations were still operating in a VM-centric architecture that did not lend itself well to moving or sharing services between clouds (more on this later in the series). 

Defining ‘cloud’ in 2024! 

Are you even more confused? The cloud market is making it as hard as possible right now, adding new words in front or after the word cloud every month; such as super, meta, adaptive, etc. Let's define ‘Supercloud’ and consider how it fits into that broader ecosystem. 

Here we have the Rob Sims definition of Supercloud: 

"A framework of services, technology and processes to enable the consistent and timely adoption of multiple public cloud services. It ensures we retain the flexibility and speed that cloud offers within the organisation's security and operational guidelines”. 

In short, it's not a specific SKU but a principle to work towards, so where does it fit into the broader Cloud types we are seeing in the market today? I see we are now in a world of two main cloud types (there are more but let’s keep it simple for now) that are defined by location and tenant status, these are: 

  • Private cloud - Cloud services provided to and consumed by a single organisation. 
  • Public cloud - Cloud Services are provided by an external provider and shared by multiple tenants.  

These can then be combined in one of three core cloud operating models. 

  • Hybrid cloud - Combining Private and Public with a consistent operating model. 
  • Multi-cloud - Combining Private and Public (or multiple Public) with separate operating models. 
  • Supercloud - Combining Multiple Public with a consistent operating model. 

Under these top-level cloud types are the other names for the cloud we see in the market. These are just a variation of the above, deployed in different ways. 

  • Industry cloud - Offering specific services for a particular industry vertical. 
  • Sovereign cloud - Ensuring data is held in accordance with required regulations. 
  • Distributed cloud - A public cloud service distributed across different physical locations. 
  • Community cloud - A private cloud shared with a few tenants. 
  • ..and potentially new clouds that are added after this is posted! 

Remember that the ‘cloud’ should be considered an operating model, not a location with core capabilities like self-service, consumption-based, automation and charge-back baked in.   

Why consider Supercloud? 

Now we have a definition, let us look at what we should be the benefits of considering a Supercloud architecture; the end goal should be the following six outcomes: 

  • Centralised management and control 
  • Workload interoperability and portability 
  • Enhanced governance and security 
  • Cost optimisation and efficiency 
  • Resilience and business continuity 
  • Unlock innovation and scalability 

Centralised management and control 

A key goal is to provide a unified management layer that summarises the underlying complexities of various cloud platforms. This includes centralised monitoring, governance, security, and operations for all services, regardless of the underlying platform. It should simplify the administration of resources, making it easier for teams to deploy, manage, and scale applications and data. 

Workload interoperability and portability 

Supercloud should enable the development and deployment of portable applications across different environments. This is achieved using standardised APIs, containers, and microservices architectures, which allow for the movement of applications and data without being tied to a specific cloud provider. 

Enhanced governance and security 

Supercloud architectures focus on robust security frameworks and consistent compliance controls across all integrated cloud platforms. This approach ensures that security policies and compliance standards are uniformly applied, reducing the risk of vulnerabilities due to inconsistent security measures across different cloud platforms. 

Cost optimisation and efficiency 

By leveraging the best capabilities of each cloud provider, Supercloud architectures aim to optimise performance and cost efficiency. This includes intelligent workload placement, auto-scaling, and the use of spot instances or reserved instances across clouds, to minimise costs while maximising performance. 

Resilience and business continuity 

By leveraging multiple cloud platforms, organisations can remove the reliance on single providers and ensure ongoing operations during critical outages of a single provider. This provides the highest data protection and system availability levels, minimising downtime. 

Unlock innovation and scalability 

Supercloud enables organisations to access the specific services offered by different cloud providers, enabling them to take advantage as outcomes require. This concept supports the rapid deployment of new applications, allowing organisations to quickly adapt to market trends and opportunities. 

Supercloud architectures are designed to operate across multiple cloud environments seamlessly. This principle is fundamental to overcoming the limitations of a single cloud or multiple clouds operating in silos. Supercloud enables smooth interoperability and management across different cloud platforms, such as AWS, Google Cloud, and Azure, without the complexities traditionally associated with this space. 


Let's recap: Supercloud is an architectural concept and not a product you can buy; it promises to solve all problems, including making your morning brew! So, the question looms: why is it different for some organisations? Please tune in for part 2, when we will dig into the challenges. 


  • Rob Sims

    Chief Technologist - Hybrid Platforms

Subscribe to email updates

Related insights

HPT Supercloud Pt2 Summary
  • Hybrid Platforms

Hybrid Platforms Trends Series: Supercloud - The Challenges 

Rob Sims explains the challenges of the Supercloud. What are the challenges of Supercloud? How do we solve the challenges of Supercloud? 

Read article
HPT Supercloud Summary Pt3
  • Hybrid Platforms

Hybrid Platforms Trends Series: Supercloud - A Journey to Supercloud  

Rob Sims explains the journey to embedding Supercloud, and explores the benefits of adopting the Supercloud. 

Read article
  • Hybrid Platforms

Hybrid Platform Trends Series: What Are Hybrid Platforms?

Every organisation is operated with a selection of applications and various repositories of data. The types of applications (legacy, traditional, web or modern) will vary, along with the performance and location requirements of each.

Read article