Is Multi-Tenancy a prerequisite for SaaS?

I recently attended a conference on cloud computing and one of the speakers said, if your application is not multi-tenant, then your application is not SaaS.

Let us look at the SaaS system Characteristics

1. Availability via Web Browser
2. On-demand availability
3. Pay-per usage
4. Minimal or zero IT Demands.

Let us look at what a multi tenant application is all about.  It’s a model where multiple clients can be supported in one single software instance. This will help the SaaS Provider to support more clients on fewer hardware components; rollouts/updates will be easier.

Read this post on Multi Tenant Architecture from MSDN to know more about Multi Tenancy.

My point here is, it depends on the service offerings and the customizations required. Also, it’s about the way you manage your deployments. I am not disagreeing that this may provide the SaaS Provider some cost benefits, which may result in the form of lower services fees to the end users. It’s based on what is really needed.

I was searching in web and found a post on similar lines

If you buy SaaS, don’t get lured into multi-tenancy marketo-munjo-jumbo and concentrate on features, SLA, integration options and cost.

If you are a service provider, then, yes, multi-tenancy is a (potentially very important) internal secret sauce that you can use to augment your economy of scale (at the expense of other aspects) but it is by no means a prerequisite, the right trade-off between multi-tenancy and isolation will depend on a myriad of factors and is often unique to the situation. As mentioned in this blog in the past and in Phil’s post today, virtualization can be a very successful way of achieving interesting levels of economy of scale without architecting the application for full multi-tenancy.

A high level model that served me well in the past in helping company understand whether they should go multi-tenant or not is the “cost per feature” vs. “cost per tenant” model.

Viahttp://blogs.msdn.com/gianpaolo/archive/2008/06/20/i-can-t-believe-we-are-still-talking-about-whether-saas-multi-tenancy.aspx

Some useful links
http://blogs.zdnet.com/SAAS/?p=251
http://www.saasblogs.com/2009/04/24/is-multi-tenancy-more-important-than-just-cost-savings/
http://blogs.msdn.com/gianpaolo/archive/2007/01/25/cost-per-feature-vs-cost-per-tenant-or-how-to-choose-whether-to-go-multi-tenant-or-not.aspx
http://ematters.wordpress.com/2009/04/15/multi-tenant-vs-single-tenant-saas-debate-10-needs-an-upgrade/
http://blogs.atlassian.com/news/2009/04/when_it_comes_t.html
Cloud Application Architectures: Building Applications and Infrastructure in the Cloud

Happy Learning!!!

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One thought on “Is Multi-Tenancy a prerequisite for SaaS?

  1. Pingback: Software as a Service and more choosing the right multi-tenancy model « Sendhil's Cyber Home

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