Multi-tenancy is an architecture in which a single instance of a software application serves multiple customers. Each customer is called a tenant. In this way, a software application in a multi-tenant architecture can share a dedicated instance of configurations, data, user management and other properties.

The concept of multitenancy dates to the 1960s, when companies rented time on mainframes, which were rare and expensive. Back then it was called time sharing. Multiple customers could access the same apps at the same time, a feat only mainframes could do.

In the modern era, multitenancy is part and parcel with software-as-a-service models. In a multitenancy environment, multiple customers share the same application, in the same operating environment, on the same hardware, with the same storage mechanism.

In layman’s terms, this means your customers’ data will reside in a database alongside the data of any other company using the same CRM provider, but each dataset remains separate.

The benefits of multi-tenant architecture include:

  1. Economies of Scale

Multi-Tenant Architecture allows renting the common resources for your application on the cloud infrastructure. The cost you pay to host an application is fixed and may vary with time. But, the value coming from each of the customers is only likely to expand.

Long term value of multi-tenant architecture is greater than the initial investment

You pay for cloud resources (which are fixed and vary with scalability), but the value and profits it brings along with every added customer are high. Thus, helping in improving economies of scale.

  1. Expedient Maintenance, Updates, and Upgrades

In the case of SaaS Multi-tenant Architecture, users do not have to pay a considerable amount of fees to keep the software up to date. Maintenance costs are usually associated with a SaaS subscription and aren’t charged per case, unlike a Single-tenant structure. Thus, making a multi-tenant architecture a cost-effective solution.

Even the software architecture does not need any change as the code is shared and remains standard. It is easy to make upgrades to the technology stack or the application itself since it needs to be done at just one centralized point and is then reflected at all tenant ends.

The maintenance costs, especially for updates, get shared by all the tenants as they use the code from the same pool. This reduces the overall cost of maintenance for each tenant.

  1. Convenient Onboarding of New Tenants

Multiple customer onboarding has become a prime focus for vendors since a poor user experience can directly affect the growth prospects. Hence, bringing customers and multiple users on board for using the product is a crucial task.

In a Multi-Tenant Architecture, the process of signing up and configuration of subdomain/domain are automated. The application also automatically performs tasks like the setup of default data for clients and configuring the application, thus making it easier still for the user to configure.

  1. The Virtue of Scalability

As more hardware is added to a Multi-Tenant SaaS model, the horsepower of the entire system is powered up, thus providing scalability to all the tenants that are using the application and not just the newly added tenant. At times, it can be as simple as adding more hardware for the same existing resources of the technology stack.

  1. Segregation of tenants in a multi-tenant environment

Unlike a single-tenant solution, a vendor does not need to build a new and unique data center for every new tenant when using a multi-tenant architecture. In multi-tenant applications, the server space scales up and down based on the tenant strength.

  1. Fast deployment:

Multitenancy makes it easy to add new customers by limiting the manual work needed to get the solution implemented while vastly increasing time-to-value for the end customer.

  1. Shared analytics and intelligence:

SIEMs that support multitenancy make it easy to apply analytics, such as dashboards and reports, across customers. MSSPs can detect and respond to threats from a single pane of glass.

  1. Privacy and security:

It’s easy for customers to access their logs in a multitenant SIEM and obfuscate data. Customers can keep sensitive data confidential from MSSPs while still allowing efficient threat detection and response.

  1.  Cost:

A multitenant SIEM allows MSSPs to reduce labour resources and scale their business. SIEMs priced by the number of devices sending logs, rather than the amount of data, have a predictable total cost of ownership, simplifying budgeting.

The uses of Multi-tenant architecture are as follows:

Customization: Multitenant applications are typically required to provide a high degree of customization to support each target organization’s needs. Customization typically includes the following aspects:

Branding: allowing each organization to customize the look-and-feel of the application to match their corporate branding (often referred to as a distinct “skin”).

Workflow: accommodating differences in workflow to be used by a wide range of potential customers.

Extensions to the data model: supporting an extensible data model to give customers the ability to customize the data elements managed by the application to meet their specific needs.

Access control: letting each client organization independently customize access rights and restrictions for each user.

Quality of service: Multitenant applications are expected to provide adequate isolation of security, robustness and performance between multiple tenants which is provided by the layers below the application in case of multi-instance applications.

Here single-tenancy falls back due to following factors:

First is cost. There is no cost sharing for things like serviceability, system monitoring, and deployment.

Clients need to worry about their own data backup/restore and disaster recovery system as well as manage their own patching and updating (which means high IT costs).

Single-tenant systems can be less efficient as well. Firstly, because they’re running on entire servers that might not be at capacity. Secondly, because the underlying software is only serving one client and not benefiting from all the services provided by multi-tenant solutions.

And since multitenant architecture is a clear winner, let us learn more about it.

There are two types of multi-tenant architectures. These include:

  1. One App Instance, One Database

In this setup, a single instance of the software supports a single database. All the user accounts that access the software product have their data stored in a single database.

  1. One App Instance, Several Databases

In this setup, a single instance of the software supports multiple databases. Each of the tenants has a dedicated database that is exclusively and independently maintained.

This type of multi-tenant architecture can get expensive as you are asking for a separate space to store the tenant data. For expanding scalability, you would have to request the addition of database nodes, which can further add to the expenses.

Choosing between single- and multi-tenant often comes down to a choice of on-premises vs. cloud. For instance, there is no single-tenant version of Salesforce, and in contrast, major databases tend to be single-tenant so as to have full access to resources.

Security of data is clearly a concern, but that falls primarily on the shoulders of SaaS providers. They are the ones responsible for monitoring tenants and making sure there is no data bleed from one customer to another, and they do a good job of it.

The client’s primary responsibility for securing the data falls to their client device. All of the major SaaS providers do offer two-factor authentication to secure logins. After that it’s up to you to maintain the security of the endpoint device.

This was all about what is a multi-tenant architecture and what goes at the backend when developing a SaaS product. If you are developing a SaaS application, a complete understanding of multi-tenant architecture is essential since the choice you make is going to set the foundation for your business in the long run.

Related Blogs

No posts found