With the rise of remote work around the globe, MSPs and IT service providers have found themselves busy spinning up tenants to support remote work for many companies and universities. Almost overnight, organizations needed to enable their employees to work from home. But many found that they were ill-equipped to support those employees. Consequently, they called upon service providers to meet an urgent need for cloud-based technologies.
This work is reactive, however, and it often lacks a company-wide cloud-enablement plan. As a result, these organizations end up managing more multi-tenant environments or public and private cloud resources, which is costly and interferes with operational efficiency.
As companies look to optimize their operations, consolidating a multi-tenant environment is key to success. Consolidation allows companies to employ cloud solutions more effectively, improve overall cost management and enhance collaboration and engagement between tenants.
Challenges of multi-tenant environments
So how do organizations deal with the challenges of multi-tenant environments? Often, larger companies use different domains or sub-brands. A parent company might assign a separate tenant to smaller companies or branches under its umbrella. Tenants that operate differently can be split. For example, university tenants are often split between teachers and students.
Multi-tenant splits can lead to a host of challenges. Where do end users log in? Where is my data? If these portals and applications aren’t appropriately synced with the new platform, the end user will have to log into several different places to access them. In addition, users may be confused about finding and accessing their data, where that data lives, how it will be shared and if it’s still on-prem or moved to the cloud.
For IT teams, multi-tenant environments present more locations from which to pull data. End users are often unsure of what kind of data they have and where it is stored. This means more time and effort from the MSP locating data and resolving issues, which increases IT costs.
Benefits of a larger cloud enablement plan
Implementing a larger cloud enablement plan allows a host of benefits. First, it enables a plan for expansion. Companies have a more detailed roadmap for what needs to be moved during a migration, and more control of what the company will look like. It gives these companies the ability to grow in the cloud and not worry about on-prem data that might be lost due to an unforeseen catastrophe.
Additionally, a cloud enablement plan helps companies comply with the industry regulations, keeping companies ahead of regulatory shifts and evolving security requirements. A consolidated cloud environment offers better access to users and their activity, as well as improved report monitoring. With this access and these insights, the cloud improves security in ways that an on-prem environment simply can’t.
Best practices for consolidating multi-tenant environments
When consolidating multi-tenant environments, you’ve got to have a clear, detailed plan. MSPs and IT service providers should have a checklist of tasks to execute when merging or consolidating clients to ensure the project is seamless.
For example, if a tenant is being consolidated in a M&A scenario, it’s important to take into account the type and total number of users. Are these users in-office or remote? Consider, too, the industry compliance regulations, as well as how much data needs to be migrated. Take inventory of what technology the company relies on. And then determine if the consolidated users will be taking on a new company name.
With regard to cost, MSPs and IT service providers must work with organizations to make sure licenses are accounted for and whether they will fully benefit end users. In-the-field employees might only need email and data backup. They won’t require platforms and services like Teams and OneDrive. Service providers need to consider the nature of the company’s operations, who the users are and what their day-to-day looks like to effectively anticipate the project costs for their customer organization to maintain operations.
Increased consolidation on the horizon
The need to consolidate tenant environments will continue to significantly rise thanks to the increase of remote work. Mergers and acquisitions, which may be momentarily paused, will ultimately continue and further drive the need for consolidated tenants. Companies will be purchased and join other companies. Companies that began moving to the cloud will further leverage cloud services to enhance their operations. In addition, the rollout of technology improvements from cloud providers like Microsoft will call for upgrades and drive migration projects.
A change of societal norms is occurring. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, some markets were hesitant to adopt the cloud. Now, with the growing need to maintain business continuity, many markets are embracing the cloud.
Since the pandemic, businesses were forced to quickly mobilize a remote work plan, turning to cloud services to keep operations humming and spinning up new tenants for the short term. Now, as these companies look to the long term, consolidating multi-tenant environments will only lead to more efficient operations, optimized collaboration and engagement, and improved resource management. Having a larger cloud-enablement plan will help companies ensure they’re operating as efficiently as possible, and in the long run, are positioned for continued growth.
Lauren Brunson, Senior Technology Strategist, BitTitan