Multi-tenant vs single tenant: Not all clouds are equal


April 28, 2023

Multi-tenant or single-tenant? Your choice of SaaS solution can have a big impact on your business, but which one's right for you?

The cloud is nothing new. It’s been around since the mid-1990s, and many feel the cloud has been responsible for creating an unprecedented cultural shift in how we live our lives. However, the cloud itself has changed significantly since those early days and continues to evolve in new and exciting ways. And this evolution has had significant implications for brands and manufacturers the world over. 

Today, it’s hard to imagine not accessing data wherever and whenever you need it. For that, we have Salesforce to thank. Back in 1999, Salesforce became the first company to offer software over the internet. This was the birth of software as a service (SaaS). Since then, SaaS offerings have diversified into many different options, such as single-tenant and multi-tenant. But what do these various tenancy options mean for you, your products, and ultimately your customers?  

What do you need from a PIM?

Read our “PIM Buyer’s Guide” to find out.

Understanding SaaS terminology 

Before we dive into multi-tenant vs single tenant SaaS, there are a few key terms you need to understand: 

When researching SaaS products, and particularly the tenancy aspect of these applications, you’ll often see two options mentioned: single-tenant and multi-tenant. Let’s explore each of these terms in-depth, and what they both mean for you. 

What is a single-tenant SaaS solution? 

A single-tenant solution runs on dedicated cloud infrastructure. There’s no sharing whatsoever. The infrastructure, database, and application are solely yours. It’s a similar concept to a traditional on-premises solution – it’s just hosted in the cloud. That’s why some refer to single tenancy as a private cloud. 

The benefits of single-tenant SaaS solutions 

Single-tenant SaaS solutions are well suited to organizations that need complete control of their software’s specifications. You can skip a software release update, add extra functionality and customize your user experience as much as you like. For large organizations that need the highest levels of security, like government agencies and healthcare providers, single-tenant SaaS is often the preferred option. 

The downside? Dedicated infrastructure can be incredibly costly, and this can make a big impact in your multi-tenant vs single tenant conversations. For example, while a multi-tenant SaaS solution’s development, monitoring, and servicing costs are shared amongst all users, single-tenant SaaS costs are solely on your shoulders. 

In a similar vein to on-premises solutions, upgrading or moving single-tenant SaaS solutions can be incredibly resource intensive. You typically won’t receive support with backup, restoring, or disaster recovery. You may also need your own team in place to maintain your system’s functionality and security after setup. 

clouds in a blue and pinkish sky, showing difference between multi-tenant and single tenant SaaS solutions

What is a multi-tenant SaaS solution? 

In a multi-tenant environment, on the other hand, the SaaS vendor provides a single version of its software (or application) for all its customers — also known as tenants. Each customer has some level of customization and their own secure instance, keeping their data secure and invisible from other tenants. 

The benefits of multi-tenant SaaS solutions 

Shared infrastructure SaaS solutions come with several advantages. Multi-tenant solutions have lower costs but more efficient resources. They offer dynamic environments that efficiently scale to meet users’ capacity needs around the clock. You can rely on a predictable cost of ownership as you’ll only pay for the resources you use. 

Maintenance and upgrades are handled by the SaaS provider, too, so there’s no need to schedule downtime and draft in experts for upgrades at your own expense. It’s no wonder that multi-tenant solutions have become the standard for enterprise SaaS environments. 

Are there different cloud computing platforms? 

The cloud isn’t just one server, but a generic name for a broad range of remotely accessible servers. Lots of companies have their own cloud computing service, making them cloud hosts. SaaS providers choose a cloud host for their software based on functionality, speed, security, and features like analytics to support their products. 

Some of the most popular platforms include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and IBM Cloud. But what do you actually get from these platforms? Let’s take a look at Microsoft’s offering, Azure. Azure has the highest security standards, both internationally and on an industry-specific level. If you choose a SaaS solution that’s on the Azure platform, you can build connectors to take advantage of Azure services’ ecosystem within your existing network. 

Finding the right multi-tenant SaaS solutions 

Multi-tenant vs single tenant is just one question to consider. With so many options out there, it can be difficult to narrow down the right SaaS provider. Make sure your vendor prioritizes security, optimum efficiency, and gives your business the capacity it needs, even if demand unexpectedly surges from a viral moment or home-run campaign. 

When it comes to PIM, Inriver’s multi-tenant SaaS solution offers the flexibility and scalability needed to meet the demands of modern commerce. With our market-leading PIM software, you can enjoy faster deployment, zero maintenance hassle, and the reassurance that you’re always on the latest release. Want to know more about the difference inriver’s multi-tenant platform can make to your business? Book a guided demo with an inriver expert today and find out. 

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  • Lisa Quinn

    Director of Product Marketing

    As our product marketing director, Lisa is a product evangelist for all things inriver. From launching new products and services to managing our analyst relationships, she is talented in cultivating key stakeholder relationships and product stories that matter. She has been working in the European market for over 15 years.

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