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Multi-tenant architecture is becoming increasingly popular in SaaS circles due to its ability to save resources, accelerate development times, and address multiple use cases. Let’s take a closer look at what it’s all about and learn about the main benefits.
Multi-tenant architecture is the use of a single logical software application or service to serve multiple customers. In this model, each customer is referred to as a tenant. You can provide a tenant with the ability to customize certain parts of the application, like business rules, users, displays, and database schemas. However, a tenant typically cannot customize the application code.
With multi-tenant architecture, several application instances operate in a shared environment. Each instance can serve one or more tenants. This works by running tenants on the same physical infrastructure, while keeping them logically isolated. All tenants share some aspects of the application—such as the business logic and central configuration—while having their own separate data, customizations, and user management, isolated from all other tenants.
This is part of an extensive series of guides about IaaS.
In this article:
Multi-tenant architecture is a foundational technology behind cloud computing. Cloud providers use multi-tenancy to manage multiple customers on the same infrastructure, and this is the basis for the economic benefits and elasticity of the public cloud. Private clouds can also make use of multi-tenancy, to share the same resources between multiple users, projects, or organizational units.
The cost effectiveness made possible by multi-tenancy is possibly the biggest driver encouraging enterprises to adopt multi-tenant architectures.
Another important driver is scalability. A single platform that serves multiple public cloud customers or multiple units within an organization makes it possible to operate at a very large scale. This means that cloud users have access to virtually unlimited resources at the click of a button. If multi-tenancy was inefficient or cumbersome, cloud computing would not be possible.
When designing a SaaS application, providers must choose their tenancy model: single or multi-tenant. The tenancy model has major implications for a SaaS provider, including the resources needed to serve the application, scalability, and operational complexity.
A single-tenant architecture provides a single instance of the software or infrastructure to one customer. This instance includes all customer data and is physically isolated from other customers. Customer data and operations are never shared with other application instances.
In this model, the provider manages the software instance on dedicated infrastructure, typically with its own database, while providing the user a high level of flexibility over software and hardware customizations.
A single-tenancy model typically provides more control and improved security for the user. However, it also increases complexity for users, because they need to configure their instance and have more limited scalability options. This model is also likely to be much more expensive for the user, while software functionality remains the same.
A multi-tenant architecture uses a single instance of the software application to serve multiple customers. All tenants share common features like security, business logic, and resource management. At the same time, each tenant is isolated from the others to protect its private data and settings. Customer data is kept confidential by permissions mechanisms that ensure each customer can only see their own data.
In this model, providers save costs, and users also receive important benefits such as scalability, automated setup and ease of use. At the same time, multi-tenancy naturally creates greater security risks, as well as other concerns such as performance and reliability. The client cannot always predict in advance how their tenant will perform and whether they will be impacted by resource constraints of the provider or the activities of other tenants.
Learn More: Multi-tenant SaaS
Here are key advantages of multi-tenant architecture for SaaS:
Here are notable drawbacks of multi-tenant architecture for SaaS:
One of the main challenges when building multi-tenant applications is managing user identities. Multi-tenant applications require managing users in the context of their tenants, in such a way that each user belongs to a tenant:
The authentication process is as follows:
The authorization process is as follows:
Learn more: Multi-Tenant Authentication
Use the following best practices to ensure a multi-tenant architecture is secure:
In a nutshell, Frontegg’s PLG-centric and end-to-end user management platform is multi-tenant by design.
By developing the platform to the essential requirements of the B2B SaaS, we know that each tenant has its own configurations, user sets, and security settings. This is why Frontegg allows each environment to hold segregated sets of tenants, assign users to each one of them, and hold a separate configuration for each one of them in a way that doesn’t affect the neighboring tenants in any way or form.
In the complex B2B world, each customer requires fine grained control on each configuration. That requires professional products to keep pace with these requirements and develop a multi-tenant capable infrastructure from day 1. Frontegg just makes it easier.
Together with our content partners, we have authored in-depth guides on several other topics that can also be useful as you explore the world of IaaS.
Authored by Run.AI
Authored by NetApp
Authored by Spot.Io