Multi-Tenancy Cloud: Definition, Security & Benefits
If you have ever lived in an apartment, you know what it is like to be in a building that contains multiple tenants, or residents. The virtual equivalent of this real-world concept is multi-tenancy cloud computing when one cloud server has multiple customers accessing the same computing resources while their personal data remain separate. In cloud computing specifically, and software in general, multi-tenancy is a single software instance, or copy of a program that is running on a device, that multiple people have access to. The concept has changed how we use our physical devices, allowing access to programs and files on phones, tablets, and multiple computers.
How multi-tenancy works
Why would you want a multi-tenancy model for cloud computing services? For one thing, cloud customers are not aware of each other. While you might hear your apartment neighbors in real life, you will not “hear” other tenants in the cloud. This means you are unlikely to experience slowdowns or service interruptions simply because others share the server that you are on. Multi-tenancy is what makes cloud computing a viable concept. Cloud computing works for most people because companies no longer need to maintain their own physical servers. Someone does that for them off site. But if a cloud computing company had to house one server for every customer, there would not be enough physical room for all the boxes. Multi-tenant cloud computing is based on software as a service, or SaaS. One person has one copy of a piece of software and puts it on their computer. They then grant access to this software to other users, usually as a business or service. Each user’s information remains isolated from other users, even though they use the same program. Cloud computing pivots users to platforms as a service, or PaaS.
Multi-tenant cloud vs. single-tenant cloud
Single-tenant cloud computing is increasingly rare, but it basically means that only one user (whether a person or a company) can access information stored on the server. This does give the tenant more control over managing their data, security, storage options, and overall computing performance. Multi-tenancy on cloud servers, however, gives more people, small businesses, and even charity organizations the ability to access high-quality computing without spending a lot of money or setting up their own server farm.
Multi-tenant cloud computing examples
If you can think of a piece of software, nowadays it is likely cloud-based, meaning it is multi-tenancy cloud computing. Social media sites like Instagram or Snapchat, for example, allow users to access their account from multiple devices, even at the same time. Meanwhile, the programs also have millions of users accessing them at all times of day, all over the world. Online video streaming services like YouTube and Netflix are among the most popular uses of multi-tenant cloud services in the world. Users no longer need to store physical copies of movies and television shows they want to watch, but can instead rent or buy access to a copy of these on a remote server. In some services, they can create and upload their own videos for personal or public storage onto the server, and others can access these copies. Microsoft programs used in businesses or schools are another great example. Multiple users can store files on the cloud drive, share them with other users, and access them from different devices — all without worrying about losing a copy or having an out-of-date draft.
Benefits of multi-tenant cloud computing
There are numerous benefits of multi-tenant cloud computing.
- No physical server storage space in your home, business, or institution
- Lower costs for each customer
- Maximized use of resources, including electricity and heat distribution
- Maximized use of human power, as cloud vendors can focus on maintaining the highest quality servers and security, which one person or small organization might not be able to do as efficiently
Disadvantages of multi-tenancy clouds
There are some downsides to multi-tenancy in cloud computing.
- Storage security requirements: Some government or industry regulations require specific types of storage for security purposes, and multi-tenant cloud computing simply cannot meet these requirements.
- Security risks: If one “neighbor” has a problem with corrupted files, this could spread to other tenants on the same machine like a virus, although this problem is extremely rare.
- Server problems: If the physical server suffers a power outage or other problem, it can affect multiple tenants, but this is also very, very rare.
- Noisy neighbors: One tenant on the server might use a huge amount of computing power, which can slow everyone else down. This is also a very rare occurrence with modern cloud computing.
Okta’s cloud identity services include identity management as well as smart lifecycle management. Users get access to what they need, and only what they need, when they need it.
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). (June 2021). Investopedia.
(PaaS) Platform-as-a-Service. (July 2021). IBM.