Finding a SaaS solution that best fits your business model, compliance needs, and culture is perhaps the most important part of the digital transformation strategy of an enterprise. With the explosion in popularity of the public cloud, multi-tenant solutions are by far the most used, but there are distinct benefits of single-tenancy that might make it a better fit for certain organizations. Let’s look at the differences and benefits of single-tenant vs multi-tenant SaaS solutions.
What is the Difference Between Single-Tenant and Multi-Tenant?
Single-Tenant and Multi-Tenant refer to two different types of server ecosystems for SaaS products. Single-tenant refers to solutions where each client has their dedicated application, database, and server, and is usually a customized ERP (enterprise resource platform) or in-house application. Multi-tenancy refers to a SaaS product wherein multiple users may share a database or server, but with their customized UI and secure data storage.
The best way to visualize the difference between single tenant and multi-tenant SaaS solutions is to think of the architecture like housing options. With single-tenant, imagine that each business has its own custom “house” or SaaS product. Every aspect of their product is completely customized to fit their needs, and their data is securely siloed in its own space for added protection. Multi-tenant, on the other hand, is more like an apartment building, wherein each business has a similar space and service level within one SaaS product, but with their own personalized experience and security.
Most SaaS products are configured with multi-tenant architecture, and for good reason, multi-tenancy offers many business and cost benefits. There is, however, also a time and a place for single tenancy, and in some cases, it might be the best option for your organization. Let’s review the differences in benefits between single and multi-tenancy:
Benefits of Single-Tenant SaaS Architecture
Single-tenant architectures are widely considered to be more reliable because the performance of one customer’s software instance is not affected by the performance of another user or instance.
- Easy Backup & Recovery
Because your system is backed up to a dedicated part of a SaaS server, it is much easier and convenient to restore or backup your database. Your team can easily access historical information and restore previous settings. In a multi-tenant environment, the process can be much more complex.
- Simplified Migration
Exporting and transferring data to a new environment, whether cloud-based or on-premises, is much easier with single tenancy because all your information is located on one server.
- Full Control & Customization
With single tenancy, you have complete control over all features, storage options, security settings, and upgrades on your program. Unlike a multi-tenancy architecture, where you must wait for scheduled maintenance or updates, in single tenancy, you have immediate service and complete flexibility.
With separate servers for each client, there is no way for anyone outside of your organization to accidentally access your data, as might happen in a multi-tenant configuration. All your sensitive and proprietary data is siloed and safe.
Benefits of Multi-Tenant SaaS Architecture
- Cost Savings
Since multi-tenant architecture enables the exchange of services, databases, resources, and applications, it can cost less than a single-tenant structure. Scaling has fewer implications because new users can access the same software as the original buyers. Additionally, maintenance and upgrade costs are usually built into the SaaS subscription fee, so there shouldn’t be any surprise charges.
- Optimum Efficiency
To ensure that all users receive the same level of service, multi-tenant SaaS solutions utilize resources that offer optimum efficiency. Computing loads are balanced between users to provide greater flexibility for the single customer by planning for capacity at the group level.
- Easy Onboarding
Multi-tenant software is architected for instant set-up and self-service configuration, which makes the onboarding process easy and user-friendly. Customers can customize their accounts by adding users, data, and even third-party integrations and extensions with no administrative support from the SaaS vendor.
- Streamlined Maintenance
Maintenance costs are rolled into the price of the SaaS subscription, which saves users from investing in costly on-site technicians and updates. Regular updates and new releases are available to all customers, leading to improved uptime and operational capacity.
- Scalability & Larger Computing Capacity
Multi-tenant SaaS solutions are designed to service all sizes of businesses, both large and small. If your computing needs change, the software is easily scalable and elastic to changing demands.
Cons of Single-Tenant and Multi-Tenant Architecture
When considering which solution is best for your organization, it is important to also consider the drawbacks of each architecture. Single-tenant solutions are much more costly, require more maintenance, and can be less efficient than multi-tenant models. On the other hand, multi-tenant users can sometimes experience more downtime, more in-app disturbances, security breaches, and frustrations with limited customization options.
How to Choose Between Single-Tenant and Multi-Tenant Architecture
Because of the low price point, easy maintenance, and flexibility, most organizations will choose a multi-tenant SaaS solution. Some examples of popular multi-tenant programs are HubSpot, Dropbox, or Salesforce. However, there are still very valid reasons why single tenancy might be the best option for some companies.
To choose the best option for your business, consider what you hope to accomplish with your solution and how your organization operates. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- How much control do you need over the application environment?
- What’s your budget?
- Do you have robust in-house security expertise?
- How many users do you need to support for both the short and long-term?
In 2020, over 90% of enterprises will use multiple cloud services for businesses and platforms, according to IDC1. Understanding what type of tenancy is best for your organization will help you maximize these critical investments.
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1. IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Cloud 2018 Predictions