What is Multi-Tenant SaaS Architecture? Single Tenant vs Multi-Tenant SaaS Architecture
What is Multi-Tenant SaaS Architecture?
Multi tenant SaaS architecture is a method that allows multiple tenants to use the same software system or SaaS environment such as application servers, storage, and networking.
The tenants are usually companies or institutions in different industries with different needs and both types of tenants share application resources in harmony.
This type of architecture provides benefits for both developers as well as the users.
Developers have an easier time managing resources and can optimize their development cycles because they do not have to worry about keeping an eye on individual customers deploying their own version of applications that share commonalities.
Users on the other hand can now enjoy applications that are tailored to fit their needs without these applications interfering with each other.
The most successful examples of this architecture are SaaS (Software as a Service) providers such as Microsoft or Salesforce.com.
These providers can offer different versions of the same application to different companies at different prices without much worry for compatibility issues because if there is some kind of conflict, only one tenant will be affected.
Consider an example. Assume a company has a website and two apps on their SaaS platform. This company’s website is built on a cloud based wordpress which is used by the marketing department to show their new products and services in the market.
There is also an app that their sales team uses to record sales made by the customers so that they can track if each customer is receiving value for every dollar spent.
And also, there is an app that the finance department uses to calculate how each salesperson is performing. Now their customers can use these apps but they may not want to use the wordpress app.
They may be more interested in using Salesforce.com’s CRM which is a cloud based application that allows sales and customer relationship management (CRM) functionality to be used by more than one company at a time.
The customers can now use both the wordpress app and the CRM without being affected by each other on the same platform.
If a developer wants to change the storage used by the wordpress app, he can do it without being concerned that it will affect the CRM and if he wants to add more features or services to wordpress, he can do so without affecting either of the other apps as these are all running on a different version of the same cloud platform.
Single Tenant vs Multi-Tenant – What’s the Difference?
Multi-tenant software as a service (SaaS) architecture is a type of application deployment model in which a single software application is installed and used by multiple customers.
Each customer is isolated from the other customers, but shares the application instance and underlying infrastructure.
Multi-tenant SaaS architecture delivers a number of benefits, including increased efficiency, economies of scale, and improved reliability.
In a single tenant SaaS deployment, there is only one customer. The application, data, and all resources are dedicated to that customer.
This offers a high degree of security and performance, but is also more expensive and may not be suitable for all applications.
The main difference between single tenant and multi-tenant architecture is that in a single-tenant architecture, one single application service web server is provided to a unique tenant.
In multi-tenant architecture, one application service web server serves multiple tenants with different identity and does not know about each other.
Applications are usually programmed to know about the resources of the current user.
In multi-tenant SaaS architecture, the application service is usually provided to the users based on their security identity.
The main differences between single tenant and multi-tenant architecture are:
– Single tenant architecture uses different application deployment for each unique tenant whereas multi-tenant architecture uses identical application deployment for all the tenants.
– In single tenant architecture, the deployment platform usually runs the processes of one client or service. In multi-tenant architecture, it runs processes of multiple clients or services at the same time.
– Single tenant architecture is inherently vulnerable to a single point of failure while multi-tenant SaaS architecture offers multiple redundant points of services using a load balancer or a clustering algorithm.
– Single tenant architecture uses single software deployment platform while multi-tenant architecture uses multiple application deployment platform.
Advantages of Multi-Tenant Architecture
1. It is cheaper than single tenant architecture:
It is cheaper since it does not require the same hardware to be installed at every customer, so less equipment is needed on the vendor’s site.
2. It reduces the installation costs required because of its scale:
This makes it more efficient for each application to run on a separate server and scale up or down as required.
3. Each application can be customized for each client:
Each application can have different security settings and its own database (DB). This enables applications to run on a variety of operating systems and platforms.
4. It reduces the costs of hardware and maintenance:
Each application service can be managed on its own, reducing the need to have secure and reliable hardware in one place.
5. It makes it easier to move applications or resources from one place to another:
The application or resource can be moved from a single tenant architecture system to a multi-tenant architecture system with relative ease as it does not require much configuration changes.
6. Secure and reliable infrastructure:
The application can be upgraded without having to re-install all users applications at the same time.
7. Reduce dependencies on a single platform:
It enables customers to publish their own custom applications on the same platform. This can reduce the dependence on any one vendor by allowing a customer to provide its own database or programming language engines.
Disadvantages of Multi-Tenant Architecture
1. It can be difficult to manage different types of access:
If network access is based on a common identity model, then there will be no way for each user to gain access to his or her personal information. For example, a customer cannot have read-only access for a blog account and read-write access for an email account.
2. It requires special hardware and software:
In order to run the applications share the same hardware it has to use special security requirements.
An organization may want to keep personal financial, medical and employment records separate from business. Organisations are increasingly concerned about hacking and security issues, which can be more difficult in a multi-tenant architecture
4. Application upgrade is difficult:
Customers could get access to the latest version of their applications only if there is a method being used by the vendor to upgrade them all.
5. Providers cannot guarantee support for older releases and legacy platforms:
When using a SaaS solution, customers need to be able to access older applications that are not supported by the provider.
6. Less control over the application:
When using a multi-tenant architecture platform, users usually do not have direct access to the source code. Therefore, users cannot customize their applications and develop customized processes. They are limited by the functionality provided by vendors.
Customers cannot customize the application to their needs.
Multi-tenant SaaS Architecture Examples
Salesforce is a provider of CRM and online marketing cloud services founded in 1999.
Salesforce uses a multi-tenant architecture, which allows the applications to be shared by multiple users from different organizations. Its flagship product, Sales Cloud, is a customer relationship management (CRM) application for sales teams.
Sales Cloud enables account executives to manage their territories and sales leads and track their sales cycle from beginning to end.
The multi-tenant architecture enables Salesforce to use a single software deployment platform that runs the processes of different organizations.
2. Google Apps
Google Apps uses a multi-tenant architecture for its webmail and office productivity suite. Google has implemented a multi-tenant system in order to lower costs and enable them to provide their services for free with advertising.
Google’s system architecture is based on Google’s own internal infrastructure called the Google Fusion Architecture. Its system design is centered on a massively scalable, reliable load-balanced Google App Engine server cluster.
The software can be updated without having to re-install all users’ applications at the same time.
3. Amazon Web Services
Amazon works on a multi-tenant architecture for its cloud services. It allows its customers to use the same platform, but with different computing resources, in order to manage their applications as needed.
Amazon’s system is based on Amazon’s own internal infrastructure called an Elastic Computing Cloud (EC2). All EC2 users share a pool of AWS computing and storage resources.
Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud enables users to provision their own virtual instances (virtual machines) and run applications in the cloud.
Why Choose Multi-tenant SaaS Architecture
Multi-tenant SaaS Architecture should be considered when you:
- Are offering a service that can scale to thousands of customers, but only a relatively small number of developers are expected to build, manage and maintain the platform.
- Need to provide a service that has multiple tenants, each having their own data and process model for running the application
- Would like to be able to integrate other applications on the same platform, or migrate legacy systems off a single platform
- Want applications with different security requirements: The underlying hardware is owned by the vendor and can be customized by your organization, allowing you to run applications on a variety of operating systems
- Want an environment where you can upgrade applications that are not supported by the provider
- Want to provide your customers with an environment that offers high availability and reliability
The most important thing to consider when dealing with multi-tenancy is security and isolation of data between tenants, as two tenants should not be able to see the data from each other (regardless of whether it’s customer data or application metadata).
This is particularly critical for applications that deal with payments and personal customer information.
Multi tenant SaaS Architecture FAQs
1. What is multi-tenant cloud architecture?
Multitenancy is a type of software architecture in which a specific type of the software may serve many, distinct user groups. Multitenancy can also apply to shared hosting in cloud computing, in which server resources are shared among several clients.
Simply put, multi tenant Saas architecture is a software as a service delivery model in which a single software application is shared by multiple organizations (tenants).
Multi tenant Saas applications are typically hosted on a public cloud infrastructure, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure, and can be accessed by authorized users from any device. 2. What are the benefits of multi tent SaaS architecture?
Multi tenant Saas architecture delivers a number of benefits, including cost savings, improved security, and simplified management.
In a multi tenant SaaS environment, customers share the underlying infrastructure, such as application servers, storage, and networking, but not the application itself.
4. What is the difference between Single Tenant vs Multi-Tenant SaaS architecture?
Multi-tenancy can be described as a system that enables multiple tenants to share one or more resources. The general concept behind this architecture is that the shared resources are partitioned and managed by an application service provider. All users share the benefits of the shared resources, but are not required to have their own local copies of the software in order to gain access.
Here’s a look at the key differences between the two: A single tenant platform is hosted on a private server and is only accessible to your company.
This can be a good option if you want complete control over your data and security. However, it can also be more expensive and may limit your scalability.
A multi-tenant platform is hosted on a shared server and is accessible to multiple companies.
This can be a good option if you want to keep your costs down and don’t need complete control over your data.
However, it can also be less secure and may limit your ability to customize the platform to your needs.
5. How does multi-tenancy work?
Multi-tenant SaaS architecture can be implemented in several ways. Some SaaS applications are architected and optimized to support multiple tenants on the same application platform and databases.
Most applications, however, rely on the architecture of the underlying IaaS (e.g., multi-tenant public PaaS, multi-tenant private PaaS) or cloud infrastructure to provide isolation between tenants.
No, the use of isolated database instances prevents SQL injections and other attacks. To prevent a tenant from accessing the databases of another tenant, most multi-tenant applications rely on either “per-instance” or “per-tenant” databases.
In per-instance architecture, each tenant has its own copy of the database and is not allowed to access any other instance’s data.
In per-tenant architecture, each tenant is allowed to access the databases of other tenants in the same virtual server.
7. How do you implement multi-tenancy in your cloud application?
Most common methods include:
– Isolation of resources using dedicated physical server, virtual server, and virtual machine instances
– Isolation of resources by virtualizing the underlying operating system
8. What are the challenges of Multi-tenancy platform?
The key challenge is to ensure data isolation due to the architecture enforced by a multi tenant SaaS platform.
To ensure that a tenant has access to only its own data while also allowing the tenant to access that of other tenants, a multi-tenant SaaS architecture must have a shared database service.
But if you only have a single instance of the database, it is possible for one tenant to modify or delete data belonging to other tenants.
In this scenario, the application must keep track of all modified data so that there are no inconsistencies between tenants and all changes are visible.
The solution is to use per-tenant databases or indexes (e.g. SQL database indexes and clustered indexes) to ensure that all tenants can only access their own data, even though only one tenant is allowed to modify it.
9. How do you apply security in Multi-tenant platform?
Multi-Tenant SaaS architecture has a clear separation between one tenant’s data and others. Each tenant may use a different database, different software or a particular application on that respective database.
This can be achieved by following a manual security policy that restricts user access to the specific resources of a particular tenant.
10. What are the different types of Saas solutions?
Multi-tenant SaaS was defined as a type of solution that enables organizations to share use of shared resources amongst multiple parties.
This can range from public cloud instances and servers, solely dedicated virtual machines to dedicated physical servers hosted in corporate data centers.
Today, we can classify SaaS solutions in three categories – Single Tenant, Multi-Tenant and Hybrid. Here’s a look:
1) Single Tenant: This is the most direct form of delivering SaaS. When a customer purchases services using software in this type, they get a subscription to the application that they want on their own virtual machine or server.
2) Multi-Tenancy: In this, the users share the same applications but keep their own copies of the software in order to manage it themselves. This can be done through the use of different database instances and databases that allow the same application to be accessed by multiple users.
3) Hybrid: In this, the customers get a subscription to a multi-tenant SaaS solution that allows them to share the resources but their own costs are offset through sharing resources with other businesses.