The major advantages of multi-tenant architecture in SaaS applications

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If you consult the modern digital or technology-based dictionary today, the term SaaS has become quite prominent. The Software as a Service is a alternative mode of software distribution in the recent times where a third-party usually hosts the application in the cloud. It is then made accessible for the users through the internet. In fact, SaaS is one of the three major wings of cloud computing; the other two including Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS).

One of the key reasons why SaaS has gained the upper hand the application development industry is due to the fact that it is offering an efficient architecture and also helping a great deal in adopting the cost-cutting methodology. However, you can only reap its actual benefits if you are opting for the multi-tenant architecture when developing the SaaS applications.

It is certain that you would be entitled to receive a host of other advantages upon the selection of multi-tenant architecture for SaaS application. However, before moving on forward let’s first compare the multi-tenant architecture with single-tenant architecture to better understand its pros.

The multi-tenant architecture

A Multi-Tenant Architecture is based on a central administration and involves a common code application and operates common instance(s) of application for multiple tenants. In addition, it also secures the private data for each of the tenants from the other.

To explain things in a simple way one can cite the example of a residential complex which comprises of several apartments each having centralised security at the main entrance along with electricity and water supply, maintained by apartment owners.

Let’s take this a little further. The Salesforce.com has shown the right way on how to implement the multi-tenant architecture. The organisation is catering successfully to a number of clients or tenants employing the similar architecture.

The single tenant architecture

In the single-tenant architecture, the single instance and the other assisting infrastructure offer services to an individual customer. Here every user or customer will have his own independent database and instance of software. There is no scope of sharing in the case of single-tenant architecture.

The key difference between the two

However, as far as the multi-tenant option is concerned, the single instance of the software along with the other assisting infrastructure will offer its service to multiple clients. The customers are free to share their software application as well as the database. The data is tagged into the database as the software application smartly identifies whose data is it.

According to tech giant Microsoft there are three types of multi-tenant architecture that the database professionals develop for various tenants. They include shared, separate or even both based on the needs.

The major advantages of multi-tenant architecture in SaaS applications

Helps a great Deal in Cutting the Cost of Investment

Today every client is possibly looking for the best deal and affordable development cost when it comes to building a SaaS application. And all thanks to the multi-tenant architecture, which helps a great deal to reduce the cost of investment in the long-run. Also it wins the battle over the single-tenant architecture, which proves to be more expansive in comparison to multi-tenant. This is mainly due to the fact that the customers using multi-tenant can share their databases, resources and applications.

Since each of the individuals is using the same application and database, the cost of development and maintenance lowers down for all the customers. Another vital factor that helps in cost reduction is the fact that multi-tenant application does not require new software resources or the change in codes and not even the setting up of database for every increased tenant. The cost of on-boarding a new tenant tends to be zero at the full scale and there is only a slight hike in the cost associated with each new tenant.

Adding a New Customer is Easy

The addition of new customers has always been a major challenge for the software vendors as any bad on-boarding service can lead to poor prospects. Therefore, you need to implement the right technique to add the customers on-board. The self-signup process is important in this case.

The multi-tenant application will offer the benefit to the vendors as it has an automated signup process. The configured domain and the sub-domain are also automated. The other automated tasks include setting the default data and configuring the application.

It Becomes More Convenient to Maintain the Same Application

The architecture of the multi-tenant application is developed in such a way that it makes it far more convenient for the vendors to maintain the application. The modules can be configured easily and makes using the application expedient. You do not need to change the codes or the data structure because the shared codes are basically common.

The cost of maintenance also reduces as it is mostly shared by the tenants as when an update is needed. This takes place as all the tenants use the common code.

Maximising the Resource Usage

One of the popular traits that go in the favour of multi-tenant application is its ability to maximise the usage of the resources optimally. And this is another area where multi-tenant proves better than single- tenant. The potential to use the same infrastructure and resources is what gives multi-tenant an advantage to optimise maintenance and utilisation gets automated. Furthermore, in case a customer is not making use of any resource, the same can be used by another customer or tenant. The machine is continuously moving.

Holds Multiple Tenants all at the Same Time

In the case of a multi-tenant architecture, the vendor does not require to develop a new and exclusive database for each of the new tenant. However, this task was needed in single-tenant. The multi-tenant architecture allows tenants to use a Single-Tenant common infrastructure. The data centres also need no increment for every single tenant. The scaling has reduced implication for the vendors. But it will depend on the size of the application and the volume of the infrastructure.

Let’s wind up

It is clear that the multi-tenant architecture plays a pivotal and comprehensive role in developing the SaaS applications. It offers a host of benefits ranging from reducing the cost of development and maintenance as well as investment. It also supersedes the Single-Tenant architecture in many areas. But it is not very easy to work on as you have to face a few challenges if you want to maximise its benefits.

The challenges may include those related to confidentiality and security of the data efforts to load the development. However, you can build a database architecture and also identify to tackle the issues.

Mehul Rajput, CEO and co-founder, Mindinventory
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