Some cloud service providers are built on a legacy construct that’s called single-tenancy, also sometimes referred to (tongue-in-cheek) as “multi-instance.” Many of these are in fact legacy on-premise vendors that simply “host” their product and thereby offer it as a “single tenant cloud solution.” And, all of the best platforms, including companies such as Salesforce, Workday, and Samanage are built from the ground up as multi-tenant solutions. So, with all those fancy codewords floating around, how can you be sure of what you’re getting? If the providers are using or perhaps even fabricating names to create confusion, how can you figure out which solution has a true and long-lasting advantage?
What’s the Difference?
Here are the basics:
- Multi-tenancy — Like a tenant in an apartment building, you can make your space your own and customize it as you see fit. Your space is also safe from the other tenants in the building thanks to the security measures the apartment owner took. If something breaks, the owner will pay for it, and maintenance and utility fees are also up to the owner.
- “Multi-instance” — Also known as a fancy way to say “single-tenancy,” is like buying a home. While you may have the illusion of owning your space, it also means that you’ll be paying for maintenance, fixes, upgrades, and any other trouble that pops up on your own.
So, what’s the true advantage of multi-tenancy over “multi-instance” solutions?
For some, it is easy to forget that the success of companies, such as Salesforce and Workday, is entirely built on an uncompromising position like a multi-tenant SaaS vendor. Surprisingly, the argument of whether or not multi-tenancy actually delivers benefits to both the vendor and the customer still continues in some circles and is heightened by the marketing spin from some vendors as succinctly projected in an early (2007) Salesforce white paper:
“For some, it is easy to forget that the success of Salesforce is entirely built on its uncompromising position as a multi-tenant SaaS vendor. Surprisingly, the argument of whether or not multi-tenancy actually delivers benefits to both the vendor and the customer still continues in some circles.”
The white paper goes on to summarize the key customer advantages as follows:
- Upgrades can be made more often, with less customer risk and much lower adoption cost.
- New capabilities are accessible to all users simultaneously without the delays and labor-intensive processes of conventional software upgrades.
- Lower initial cost, zero-touch upgrade, lower administrative cost and greater user satisfaction.
And nothing has changed…