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Single-Tenant Cloud vs Multi-Tenant Cloud: Which Is Right for You?

Posted on by Jake Fellows | Updated:
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Interested in moving to cloud computing but unsure whether single-tenant cloud vs multi-tenant cloud is right for you?

Cloud computing is the delivery of on-demand computing services. The cloud has created an information technology revolution in the last decade. More and more workloads have been moved from traditional hosting infrastructure to the cloud, leading many organizations to rely on the cloud entirely for their infrastructure needs. 

If you are moving your deployments to the cloud, there are several things to consider, as not all cloud instances are created equal. 

For instance, you might consider the following:

Indeed, countless variations and configurations of the cloud must be sorted out during any digital transformation. Finding out which of the managed cloud solutions is your best choice is the number one priority.

When running an application, one of the most common decisions we see by businesses and developers is whether to opt for a single-tenant or multi-tenant environment. In this piece, we will detail the difference between single-tenancy and multi-tenancy and examine the benefits and drawbacks of each.

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Single-Tenant Cloud 

A single-tenant cloud environment occurs when a single instance of the software application runs on a single infrastructure instance to serve a single customer. Think of single-tenancy as the entire experience for a customer, client, or user, being served without sharing resources, storage space, or even connectivity.

Single-tenancy application models most commonly occur in SaaS environments (Software-as-a-Service provided on-demand and hosted elsewhere) when the application provider offers a customer both software and infrastructure working in concert. In this model, the SaaS is responsible for both the software and the infrastructure, ensuring that they work well together, much to the user's or customer’s delight.

Benefits of a Single-Tenant Cloud

Single-tenant environments are great if the user or application requires customizations for their own use case. Because no resources or code is being shared within the tenancy, modifications can be made to both infrastructure and application to fit the particular user’s or customer’s needs. Many individuals and companies choose single tenancy for the flexibility offered for application and infrastructure alike.

Additional benefits from single-tenant environments relate to data. In a single-tenant environment, data is inherently better protected because it’s all stored securely in a single place without other users lurking around. Additionally, backups, restorations, and migrations are simpler in a single-tenant cloud because data and files are distributed in multiple locations.

Drawbacks of a Single-Tenant Cloud

The drawbacks of a single-tenant system can be primarily divided into two groups:

  • Cost
  • Optimization

In a single-tenant environment, the fact that there are no other users means that the entire cost burden falls to a single entity or organization. 

Additionally, provisioning and managing a single-tenancy is more expensive than simply adding users or applications to a multi-tenant environment.

Regarding utilization and optimization, it is common for single-tenant environments to be less efficient than multi-tenant counterparts from a resource allocation standpoint. Even though the cloud is designed to offer “...as-a-Service” and a per-use cost system in many cases, a single-tenant environment doesn’t behave the same way. If only one user or application is in a tenancy, it won’t make sense to redact or remove resources, not in use; the whole environment might accidentally disappear. That means that single-tenant users, almost by definition, will pay for resources they don’t need or aren’t using at any given moment.

When to Use Single-Tenant Clouds

If you’re working in an industry where security is a primary concern, you may want to consider a single-tenant cloud environment. For example, industries responsible for handling sensitive data (like healthcare and finance) can leverage single-tenant cloud technology to meet stringent compliance regulations imposed by organizations.  

Multi-Tenant Cloud

Unlike a single-tenant environment, a multi-tenant cloud allows many users or customers to share infrastructure resources. The users are logically isolated so that their data and usage don’t overlap, but the software and infrastructure serve them all. This is an efficient way to deliver software to users, but it also has some limitations.

Benefits of a Multi-Tenant Cloud 

The benefits of a multi-tenancy environment come down to scalability and efficiency. By deploying a multi-tenant cloud for your application, you can add more users or customers without spinning up a new cloud instance for each one. This means that your business can grow, and your maintenance and security costs are more efficient regarding utilization.

Multi-tenant environments also allow for upkeep and updates to be handled once for all instances. This means your managed provider or IT team can patch and update components and software all at once for the benefit of all users instead of performing maintenance and upgrades on many single-tenant instances.

Drawbacks of a Multi-Tenant Cloud 

While multi-tenant cloud infrastructure can be a great choice. It is not without its drawbacks. 

The most glaring downside of this architecture is significantly limited flexibility and agility. Because any change in the environment will affect all users, customizing the application, the infrastructure, or any associated integrations affects everyone.

Often, customers are willing to pay more for these special considerations or customizations. If your application is deployed in a multi-tenant environment, your ability to meet their needs will be severely affected. 

Additionally, even though customer data and files are separated within the environment, the fact that they share resources to some degree DOES create a non-zero chance of data breach or corruption.

How to choose between single-tenant cloud and multi-tenant cloud.

When to Use Multi-Tenant Clouds

Suppose your cloud environment supports a consumer-facing application. In that case, a multi-tenant cloud environment may be the best choice since supporting multiple users is integral to what a multi-tenant cloud is.

Multi-tenant environments support multiple users through virtualization. Virtual instances on the same host server allow multiple users to access the same host data and features while keeping their personal information private.

Similarities and Differences 

Single-tenant and multi-tenant cloud environments are often discussed simultaneously. As a result, it can be easy to confuse each infrastructure and need help determining which might be best for you. So let’s take a quick look at comparing single-tenant vs multi-tenant environments.

By their very nature, these two types of cloud environments are opposites. When you look at single-tenant vs multi-tenant cloud hosting, there aren’t any features they have in common. Their most critical differences are:

  • Affordability: Multi-tenant cloud hosting costs much less than single-tenancy since resources are shared among multiple users.
  • Security: Multi-tenancy environments are generally less secure than single-tenant clouds. Since multiple users are accessing the same server resources, it can be easier for hackers to find loopholes and vulnerabilities.
  • Maintenance: Single-tenant hosting environments require regular updates for which the user is typically responsible. On the other hand, multi-tenant updates are generally handled by the application or software provider. 

Choosing What Is Right for You

When choosing the type of environment or managed enterprise hosting for your application or users, there are several things to consider. 

Whether to use a single-tenancy environment or a multi-tenant setup will depend on cost, how customized the application needs to be for each user, and who will manage the infrastructure and keep it secure.

Single-tenant environments are indeed more flexible but bring additional costs. Multi-tenant environments work well for serving the most users most efficiently, but there are some tradeoffs with what you can do at both the software and infrastructure level. 

When deciding what is right for your needs, think about the present needs and what your needs will look like in the future. Planning for growth is a great way to right-size your infrastructure for the long term while avoiding making a decision that could haunt you later.

Making the Cloud Work for You

Choosing a single-tenant vs multi-tenant cloud environment for your application or workload can be confusing.

  1. Do you choose public cloud or private cloud
  2. Which provider do you choose? 
  3. What type of database, storage, and web server is right for you? 

It can all seem overwhelming. But, despite the difficulty, you must choose the right cloud environment to get the best performance and maximum return on investment for your spending. 

Choosing between a single-tenant or multi-tenant cloud environment is one of the most critical cloud decisions you can make. The team at Liquid Web has years of experience in providing class-leading VPS and dedicated servers but also in designing and deploying dedicated cloud hosting environments. From small and mid-sized businesses to multinational enterprises, the team of the Most Helpful Humans in Hosting® can help with your infrastructure needs. Reach out to learn more about how Liquid Web can help make the cloud work for you.

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What is a multi-tenant cloud?

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What is single-tenant cloud?

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What is the difference between multi-tenant and single-tenant?

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Do I need a multi-tenant cloud?

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Do I need a single-tenant cloud?

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What is a multi-tenant cloud?

A multi-tenant cloud is cloud infrastructure that provides resources to multiple users or applications at once. Multi-tenant cloud benefits include scalability, cost control, and management.

What is single-tenant cloud?

A single-tenant cloud is infrastructure for only one customer, client, or application at a time. Single-tenant cloud benefits include the ability to customize the infrastructure or application to the specific user’s needs.

What is the difference between multi-tenant and single-tenant?

Multi-tenant infrastructure is used by multiple users, clients, applications, or customers at once. Single-tenant infrastructure is used by only a single user, client, application, or customer at a time.

Do I need a multi-tenant cloud?

If your application or business would benefit from managing many customers or clients in one cloud instance, then multi-tenant might be the best choice. Multi-tenant clouds are built to manage multiple users and applications.

Do I need a single-tenant cloud?

If your application has specific customization needs when it comes to your infrastructure, then a single-tenant cloud might be the best choice. Single-tenant clouds are built with this type of customization and flexibility in mind.

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About the Author

Jake Fellows

Jake Fellows is the Sophisticated Hosting Product Manager for Liquid Web's Managed Hosting products and services. He has over 10 years experience involving several fields of the technology industry, including hosting, healthcare, and IT-system architecture. On his time off, he can be found in front of some form of screen enjoying movies, video games, or researching into one of his many technical side projects.

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