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(also multi-tenant systems)

Multitenancy definition

Multitenancy is a software design where one application serves many customers or user groups (tenants). Each tenant's data is separate and invisible to the others to ensure privacy and security. This system shares resources like storage and computing power, and it simplifies updates, which are applied to all users at once. It's a common model in cloud computing and software as a service (SaaS) applications.

See also: cloud forensics, intelligent cloud, zero-knowledge, web authorization management, lattice-based access control

History of multitenancy

Multitenancy gained popularity in the early 2000s with the rise of cloud computing. As more businesses moved online, there was a need for scalable and cost-effective software solutions. Multitenancy met this need by letting several customers use the same platform securely and privately.

How multitenancy works

In a multi-tenant setup, tenants share resources such as databases, computing power, and storage. However, each tenant's data is kept in its own isolated section, usually through special database setups.

While tenants can customize parts of the application, like the user interface, they can't change its core functionality. A major advantage is that the software provider manages all updates and maintenance. This ensures that all users have access to the latest software version without needing individual updates.

Uses of multitenancy

  • SaaS applications. Common in cloud-based services like CRM systems (e.g., Salesforce), email services (like Gmail), and office tools (like Microsoft 365).
  • Cloud hosting. Web hosting services use multitenancy to host websites for multiple clients on single servers.
  • Enterprise software. Large companies use multi-tenant setups for internal systems to manage resources across departments.
  • E-commerce platforms. E-commerce services like Shopify offer individual stores that all use the same infrastructure.
  • Public services. The public sector uses multitenancy in systems like citizen portals, where different departments share the same platform.