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Choosing Between Single-Tenancy and Multi-Tenancy for Your Enterprise

A house versus an apartment

What’s the difference between a single-tenant and a multi-tenant architecture? Is one type better than the other for enterprises? Here’s what you need to know. 

In the enterprise tech space, “tenancy” refers to the exchange of computing resources in either a private or a public environment. The terms “single-tenant architecture” and “multi-tenant architecture” are used frequently when talking about software-as-a-service (SaaS) delivery models or cloud services, but what do they actually mean? Is one architecture better than the other? Here’s everything you need to know about each type of tenancy, including how to determine which type is best for your enterprise.

What is a single-tenancy?

In a single-tenant architecture, each SaaS client has its own database, software instance, and supporting infrastructure, meaning it doesn’t need to share resources with any other clients. You can think of it like living in a single-family home. Once the software has been installed, the client is free to customize the software and UI to best suit their needs and their specific environment. This architecture is most common in cloud computing and among private cloud services. 

There are numerous benefits to working in a single-tenant architecture, the most important benefit being security. A single-tenant architecture is a natural safeguard against hacking. Since your data is completely isolated from anyone else’s data, you don’t have to worry about someone accidentally accessing your sensitive data or a hacker using someone else’s system as a backdoor into yours. Other key benefits include: 

  • More reliable operations: Your activities in one application can’t impact others in a single-tenant architecture—if one application goes down, the rest of the applications in your ecosystem won’t come to a standstill. This allows you to more reliably keep critical services up and running. Also, you have more control over upgrades, updates, and restores so it’s easier to stay current and keep web application vulnerabilities patched.

  • More flexibility: Single-tenant environments are yours and yours alone so you can customize them as you see fit 

Still, a single-tenant architecture does come with a few drawbacks. For example, these systems typically require more hands-on maintenance and it’s up to the user to manage them alone. Plus, single-tenant systems aren’t always optimized for effective resource usage. There’s also the matter of cost. Between setup, resource allocation, customization, maintenance, and purchasing a new instance for every customer, some single-tenant systems can get pretty expensive. 

Want to see how easy building in a single-tenant architecture can be with no-code? Watch this brief demo.

What is a multi-tenancy?

In a multi-tenant architecture, a single software instance serves multiple tenants and multiple instances of an application can operate in the same environment. You can think of it like living in an apartment or a condo building. Each tenant is integrated into the same system physically, but not logically, meaning that a single instance of the software can run on one server and then serve multiple tenants. Tenants use the same software to share and store data, and they can customize some limited aspects of the application like UI or business rules. 

A multi-tenant architecture’s number one advantage is cost. The cost-per-user in a multi-tenant system is much lower than that of other systems because the resources are shared and you don’t have to pay maintenance fees. In fact, all maintenance costs are typically subsumed under a SaaS subscription. Other notable benefits include: 

  • More computing capacity: Multi-tenant architectures naturally have more computing capacity because power needs to be spread across multiple tenants, so it’s unlikely that you’ll ever run out of server space

  • More efficient resource usage: Similarly, multi-tenant architectures use resources extremely effectively because resources are shared among multiple tenants at once 

Unfortunately, this architecture is less secure than a single-tenant architecture—multiple tenants mean multiple access points for hackers to exploit. Plus, it’s harder to keep up with patches in a system with so many moving parts. Additionally, any changes made to the core software will affect all tenants within the system—either negatively or positively. 

Choosing the right architecture for your enterprise

So, which kind of architecture is right for your enterprise? Generally, multi-tenant architectures are a good option for smaller businesses and companies that want fewer hardware requirements, are on a budget, or don’t have the resources to handle a single-tenant system. 

For large enterprises, a single-tenant architecture is the only way to go. Web application security is more important than ever before, and multi-tenant systems can’t offer the enterprise-grade protection you need to keep user data safe. 

For large enterprises, a single-tenant architecture is the only way to go. Web application security is more important than ever before, and multi-tenant systems can’t offer the enterprise-grade protection you need to keep user data safe. With Unqork, you get the security and flexibility of a single-tenant system with none of the maintenance headaches or resource usage issues. Only your products, rules, and customers live inside of your instance and you can run your no-code application on Amazon Web Services’, Google Cloud’s, or Microsoft Azure’s scalable, secure, and reliable platforms. Plus, we take care of all backend maintenance for you so all you have to focus on is innovation.

Want to learn more about how no-code can be used at your organization? Schedule a personalized demonstration with one of our in-house experts. Also, sign-up for the Unqork newsletter to keep up-to-date on the latest in the world of no-code.