Single-Tenancy Versus Multi-Tenancy in Cloud Computing

Benefits of a Multi-Tenant CloudThe cola wars of the 1980s have become the cloud wars of the 2010s. Forget Coca-Cola versus Pepsi, today the question on everyone’s mind is public or virtual private? Single or multi-tenancy? But just like the cola wars, there’s no right or wrong answer. It simply comes down to personal preference and what’s best for your organization.

Public vs. Virtual Private Cloud

Nothing new to see here, folks. By now, plenty has been written about the public cloud and virtual private cloud (VPC), so there’s no need to do a deep dive. But, to understand single- and multi-tenancy properly, a quick refresher is in order. In a nutshell:

  • Public Cloud: A large physical and virtual infrastructure shared with thousands, or perhaps millions of users. Heavyweights like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Services, and IBM Cloud are prime examples of public cloud hosts that most people are familiar with.
  • Virtual Private Cloud: Just as virtual as the public cloud, however instead of sharing resources and space in a public infrastructure, they operate with a certain level of isolation between customers.

Single-Tenant vs. Multi-Tenant

Most public cloud offerings are multi-tenant, meaning multiple customers (tenants), share one piece of software or instance. While the software is shared, data is not—protections, or “fences,” are in place to keep one tenant from snooping on another; of course, fences are fallible, and security can be compromised. While tenants benefit from economies of scale and sharing the cost of automatic updates and upgrades, the downside is that configuration is limited. Public cloud providers renting to thousands or even millions of tenants can’t change the environment to better meets the needs of an individual.

On the other hand, most VPCs are single-tenant clouds, meaning there is just one instance to one customer. This provides a much higher level of performance—as well as flexibility—enabling the customer to tailor the cloud to their needs. Single-tenant clouds also offer greater levels of security because their cloud is accessed through a private IP subnet or Virtual Local-Area Network (VLAN) on a per customer basis. This isolation is what lends itself to the term “virtual private”—the user is in a cloud, but is not dependent on any physical hardware. This is an important distinction that some shady cloud providers skirt around by inaccurately marketing their physical services as a “private cloud.”

Do You Want to Take a Taxi or a Bus?

Dean McGlone of Information Age describes single- and multi-tenancy as the difference between a taxi and a bus, and we can’t think of a better analogy! Single-tenancy is the “taxi”, and you’re the sole rider. It takes you wherever you want to go, and can change direction instantly. Multi-tenancy is the bus; the journey is shared with others, going from point A to point B without re-routing. So, while most would prefer to travel by taxi, some take the bus because it’s cheaper.

Finding Your Ideal Cloud

Which cloud is right for you? Like we said before, there isn’t a “correct” answer. You may decide to use one, or several, cloud solutions depending on your organizational needs and data-sensitivity. No matter what you choose, we can help. DSM, Florida’s predictable cloud provider, can easily and seamlessly migrate you to the cloud. Our VPC offering is designed for business, healthcare, and government, meeting compliance standards and exceeding industry standards for uptime and recovery. Interested in learning more? Speak with one of our IT experts today.

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