Multi-tenant architecture for Enterprises?

The world is shrinking and the traditional boundaries between Desktop, Client-Server, Web and Cloud technologies are getting blurred. While some of your business applications should be strictly on-premise, some have to move to the private cloud and some more to the public cloud.

The users of today’s applications are spread across product divisions, geographies, business units, upstream vendors, downstream partners and customers. Configurability and customization requirements, security and data-scope policies, data isolation and scalability requirements, administration and reporting needs, all these can be quite diverse. The challenges of architecting and engineering such applications are many.

While SaaS as a business model may not be relevant to an enterprise application, multi-tenant architecture and SaaS like features can substantially reduce the operational and infrastructure costs of an enterprise.

Let us look at some examples that we have recently come across:

One enterprise with a strong franchisee model, is thinking of migrating its application to a multi-tenant architecture. The objective is to bill its franchisees for the usage of IT infrastructure and applications on a monthly variable model, instead of a fixed upfront cost.

A BPO is building a multi-tenant platform to manage its processes, but would be sharing the same application with all its clients.

And there is a large enterprise that is wondering whether it would make economic sense to build a single multi-tenant app. to be used by various SBUs, products, geographical units and subsidaries (each unit to be treated like a tenant).

Why not? Data isolation, data scoping and access control, horizontal scaling, tenant wise customizability and configurability, hosting on a hybrid but elastic infrastructure, single code base, ease of maintenance, reduced opex all these could indeed give this enterprise unparalleled cost savings and benefits.

Vendor management and e-procurement are some other examples where a multi-tenant architecture could be considered.

So thinking about the cloud, is not just about moving or not moving your existing applications and infrastructure to the cloud. It is also about re-thinking your application development framework and how you can leverage the benefits of a Multi-tenant architecture.

So whether you are building a new application or planning to migrate an existing application, you should carefully evaluate the kind of engineering stack that you would like to build (or buy).

Disclosure : Techcello will soon be launching another product called “Cello Frame” : – a Multi-tenant Development Framework for Enterprises.

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