Multi-tenancy vs. Single-tenancy: Have We Reached the Multi-Tenant Tipping Point?
The multi-tenancy vs. single-tenancy hosting debate has raged for years. Businesses’ differing demands have led to a stalemate, with certain industries more likely to lean one way than the other.
But with advancements in cloud computing and storage infrastructure, the stalemate could be at the beginning of its end.
To understand why multi-tenancy hosting is gaining traction over single-tenancy, it’s important to understand the fundamental differences.
Multi-Tenancy vs. Single-Tenancy
Gartner defines multi-tenancy as: “A reference to the mode of operation of software where multiple independent instances of one or multiple applications operate in a shared environment. The instances (tenants) are logically isolated, but physically integrated.”
The setup is comparable to that of a bank. The bank houses the assets of all customers in one place, but each customer’s assets are stored separately and securely from one another. Yet every bank customer still uses the same services, systems and processes to access the assets that belong to him/her.
The single-tenancy counterpart removes the shared infrastructure element described above. It operates on a one customer (tenant) per instance basis.
The trouble with the single-tenancy approach is that those servers are maintained separately by the host. And of course, this comes with costs – time as well as money – and customers have to foot the bill.
Additionally, the single-tenancy model involves tenants drawing from the power of a single infrastructure. Businesses with thorough Big Data strategies (of which numbers are increasing), need to be able to deal with a wide variety of data sources. The data is often high in volume, and must be processed at increasingly high velocities (more on the Three Vs of Big Data here).
Such businesses need greater ‘elasticity’ to operate efficiently, with ‘elasticity’ referring to the ability to scale resources up and down as required.
Along with cost savings and greater elasticity, multi-tenancy is also primed to make things easier for the tenant from the ground up. The host upgrades systems on the back-end, with updates instantly available to tenants. Maintenance is handled on the host side as well, and only one set of code is needed for delivering, greatly increasing the speed at which new updates can be made.
Given these considerations, it’s hard to fathom why the debate over multi-tenancy vs. single-tenancy has waged for so long.
Diminishing Multi-Tenancy Concerns
The advantages of cost savings, scalability and the ability to focus on improving the business, rather than up-keep, would seem to pique the interest of any business leader.
But the situation is more nuanced than that. Although all businesses would love to take advantage of multi-tenancy’s obvious advantages, shared infrastructure remains a point of contention for some.
Fears about host data breaches are valid and flanked by externally dictated downtime.
But these fears are now increasingly alleviated by sound reassurances. Multi-tenancy hosting initially spun out of single-tenancy hosting, and the fact it wasn’t built for purpose left gaps.
However, we’re now witnessing a generation of purpose-built, multi-tenancy approaches that address the aforementioned fears.
Server offloading means maintenance can happen without tenant downtime and widespread service disruption.
Internal policies and improvements in the way data is managed and siloed on a tenant-by-tenant basis serve to squash security concerns.
Of course, shared infrastructure will still be a point of contention in some industries, but we’re approaching a tipping point as evidenced by the success of such multi-tenancy hosts as Salesforce.
Through solid multi-tenancy strategy, Salesforce has dominated the CRM market, outstripping the growth of its contemporaries. Analysts expect further growth this year to match the uptick in cloud adoption.
What are your thoughts on multi-tenancy vs. single tenancy hosting?