Single vs. Multi-Tenant Cloud Architecture: The Value of Multi-Tenancy

June 12 2019

Explore cloud architecture options such as single vs. multi-tenant clouds and which type of cloud is compatible with your organization's needs.

Cloud migration isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Your organization has many tough decisions to make before and during this critical and often complex process. One major consideration is single vs. multi-tenant cloud architecture. Is a single-tenant cloud the way to go? Or will multi-tenancy provide the most benefit for your business? Before discussing the pros and cons of each, let’s quickly distinguish between public, private and hybrid cloud offerings.

You’re no doubt aware that a public cloud provider such as Amazon AWS, Google Cloud Platform, IBM Cloud or Microsoft Azure offers computing services over the public internet. A public cloud customer typically pays only for the CPU cycles, bandwidth, or storage it uses. Benefits include:

  • Less investment in and maintenance of on-premises IT systems
  • Easy scalability to meet your organization’s growing workload
  • You pay only for the computing resources you use


In a private cloud, computing services are limited to the needs of a single organization or a select group of users (e.g., your company’s employees and contractors) over the internet or private internal network. Benefits include:

  • Better security and privacy via company firewalls and internal hosting
  • Computing infrastructure hosted on-premises that provides additional customization and control


While the private cloud offers greater control, it comes with a few drawbacks—most notably maintenance, management and staffing responsibilities that rival those of a conventional datacenter. The IT department will be responsible for managing this private cloud, including the accountability and costs associated with it.

There’s another private cloud option—a virtual private cloud (VPC) from a public cloud provider. The VPC is ideal for the enterprise that wants the benefits of private cloud without the high costs and managerial headaches of an on-premises private cloud implementation.

A third option is the hybrid cloud, essentially a fusion of private and public cloud services that work in conjunction with each other. For many enterprises, the hybrid cloud provides the best of both worlds; it delivers the benefits of the public cloud while allowing the organization to maintain a private cloud for applications and data that are sensitive, mission-critical, and/or highly regulated.

A multicloud environment occurs when an enterprise uses multiple cloud providers. According to IDC, the applications most often deployed on public clouds include big data analytics and social and mobile workloads, which are highly scalable, external facing, and vary greatly in terms of resource requirements. However, the majority of those applications are often supported by on-premises or dedicated host infrastructure. Application security, image processing, and internal IT operations workloads are usually deployed on physical and virtual non-cloud infrastructure. And enterprise resource management (ERP)  (more on this below) and content management/backup workloads are typically deployed into private clouds.

Multi-Tenant Cloud Architecture

Now let’s discuss single versus multi-tenant cloud. In a multi-tenant cloud environment, a public cloud provider gives each of its customers a separate, secure space for storing data and projects. Each user can access only its own stored information, and the cloud provider’s complex suite of permissions and security prevents other customers from accessing this content. Since a multi-tenant cloud architecture means that the same servers are hosting multiple users, it’s critical for public cloud customers to carefully understand the performance and security offerings of its cloud provider.

Multi-Tenant vs. Single-Tenant Cloud

The alternative to multi-tenant cloud architecture is single-tenant cloud, where a server hosts only one customer, or tenant, who has sole access. In a single-tenant architecture, the customer has greater control over multiple capabilities, including data, performance, security and storage.

ERP is a category of business management software. It’s often a suite of integrated applications that a company uses to collect, manage and interpret data from multiple business activities. For organizations that lack in-house security and management teams, multi-tenant ERP is a good option. Why? Because a major cloud provider will have strong security integrated into its service, and this protection will likely be better than what many enterprises have in-house.

There are security advantages to single-tenant ERP, too. For instance, an enterprise with a first-rate security team can carefully isolate sensitive data from the rest of the cloud implementation.

What is Multi-Tenancy? An Apartment Building in the Cloud

TechTarget uses a great apartment building analogy to explain multi-tenant cloud architecture. Think of a multi-tenant cloud as urban apartment building. The entire building shares resources, such as electricity and common areas, but each tenant (customer) can enter only its specific apartment.

So how can multi-tenant cloud architecture benefit your enterprise? It can:

  • Make a wider variety of resources available to more people in your organization—all without slowing down applications or hampering security and privacy
  • Provide greater storage capacity and improved access versus a single-tenant cloud design with limited access and security parameters
  • Cloud-based virtualization of storage locations offers greater flexibility and easier accessibility from nearly any location or device.


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