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How to implement scalable design into a multi-tenant app

6 minute read
How to make multi-tenant web application

Implement a multi-tenant app to easily scale as your customer base grows

According to the IDC, 80% of enterprises have moved infrastructure to the cloud. This is no surprise because cloud apps are more accessible and cost-effective than traditional software solutions. Also, in the cloud ecosystem, companies can experiment with various development approaches to achieve strategic business goals. 

One such approach allows a single software instance to run across multiple customer organizations (tenants). This provides ample opportunities for companies to save their resources, speed up development, and scale apps as the business grows.

If you are going to develop software in the cloud and want to ensure it can handle the load, consider designing a multi-tenant app. In this post, we’ll explain what multi-tenancy is and whether it is a good choice for your software project.

Modern examples of multi-tenant architecture

Multi-tenant architecture is when multiple software users share the computing resources of a single SaaS platform. Each customer’s data is isolated from other customers, and each customer has their own tenancy. 

There are a few modern examples of multi-tenant architecture from which you can take inspiration.  

Salesforce

This world-renowned platform for sales and marketing hosts the data of different customers in a single Salesforce instance. Each dataset has its own “cell” which ensures that customer data is never shared and each customer has the security and performance they need.

Multi-tenant architecture of Salesforce
Salesforce architecture

Google Apps

Google Apps include Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, Google Forms, and more. It uses a multi-tenant SaaS architecture to host millions of customer accounts on a single platform. Thanks to multi-tenancy, Google easily scales apps to meet the needs of every customer without having to create and manage separate instances for each one.

Zendesk

Zendesk is a customer service software used across enterprises and startups. It is a multi-tenant solution that allows sharing powerful resources to provide customer care and resolve software-related issues. At the same time, Zendesk users have ample opportunities for customizing the product as per their needs.

Netflix

Netflix is a subscription-based streaming service that lets you watch ad-free movies and TV shows on an Internet-connected device. The Netflix content is stored in a single cloud space accessible by all users. However, every user’s data is securely separated and protected against unauthorized access.

Netflix multi-tenant solution
Netflix uses multi-tenant architecture

GitHub

This is the largest web service for code posting and joint development of IT projects. GitHub works based on a multi-tenant architecture, which allows users to share code-writing tools, comment on edits, and follow friends’ news. With all that, every developer has a unique coding space that they can customize for productive work.

How to scale SaaS: best practices

Scalability is the ability of the software to work efficiently under a growing load of customer requests. There are a few key steps you can take to ensure that your SaaS app is scalable. Here are the best practices to follow:

1. Choose cloud-native app architecture. Typically, SaaS applications architecture is built as a set of loosely-coupled microservices, which are packaged in containers and managed by agile DevOps processes. Any microservice can be deployed, upgraded, scaled, or restarted independently of other app services. Therefore, your SaaS can be updated frequently without downtime and inconvenience to customers.

2. Use caching. With caching, you can store the results of a complex query in the server’s memory so that you don’t need to access the database to execute it again. As a result, the application can serve more user requests at the same time with fewer database operations.

3. Implement load balancing. This will help you distribute tasks across a pool of application servers and reduce request processing time. As your user base grows, you can add application servers to the pool without downtime. And if one server goes down, the others will keep the application up and running.

4. Optimize your database design. First of all, you need to choose the appropriate type of SaaS database according to your app specifics. For example, you might opt for a NoSQL database if you are constantly adding new features, functions, and data types. However, your choice may be in favor of SQL if you’re working with complex queries and reports.

5. Automate tasks wherever possible. This may include workload monitoring, supporting remediation workflows, or running ETL processes. Automated tasks should be set according to SaaS nature and requirements. They should help keep your multi-tenant system running smoothly, even if it experiences a surge in traffic.

Five steps to build SaaS applications architecture
Steps to make a scalable SaaS

A hybrid approach in SaaS development

Various benefits are associated with the use of cloud SaaS. Businesses can quickly access a full-fledged application, save on in-house development, and optimize processes within the organization. However, many companies experience security concerns when migrating to the cloud. Often, they don’t want to store sensitive data on third-party resources for fear of data leakage, unauthorized access, and reputational harm.

To assure your customers of the reliability of your multi-tenant software, you can offer a hybrid SaaS model. This involves combining on-premises and cloud environments for a more flexible and secure provision of software functions. 

In the majority of cases, hybrid design patterns of SaaS aim to isolate organizations’ databases from the rest of the software infrastructure. While the functional aspect of the app is stored in the cloud, the customer data is kept on the company’s proprietary resources. This approach provides the security of a dedicated server while maintaining the cost-efficiency of a shared infrastructure. 

Thus, by offering a hybrid model shared tenant app, you gain an advantage over your competitors because you solve two main business problems by 

  • allowing quick access to business-critical functionality and
  • providing full control over sensitive information

Basics of the scalable design in a multi-tenant SaaS

A multi-tenant architecture is great for SaaS, as it allows you to scale your product more easily by adding tenants and sharing resources between them.

There are a few basic things that will help you design a robust multi-tenant web application:

1. Reliable cloud. AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud are currently leading the market, but you can check other providers to see if they can meet your business needs.

2. Data separated from logic. This allows for adding new tenants without affecting the existing ones.

3. Tenant identifiers. They simplify data structuring and let you know which organization it belongs to.

4. Stored procedures. They provide an important layer of security between the user interface and the database.

5. Dependency injection. This separates the creation of an object from its usage and reduces the boilerplate code in your business logic.

How can Erbis help with multi-tenant app architecture?

At Erbis, we help tech companies scale their business and disrupt the market. One of the ways we do this is by developing B2B and B2C multi-tenant applications.

Our team creates designs that are easily scaled to accommodate more users without affecting performance. As part of the multi-tenant platform implementation we undertake to: 

  • design a multi-tenant database 
  • create an efficient caching system 
  • implement a load-balancing system 
  • recommend strategies for partitioning your data 
  • create (for new projects) or optimize (for legacy projects) your code for speed and performance

If you need help with creating a multi-tenant environment for a SaaS app, get in touch. We will be happy to help.

July 15, 2022
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