Henry Olson provides his views on approaches taken by ISVs to SaaS solutions.

These two deficiencies are serious. As the number of customers of a virtualized application grows, the complexity and cost to operate it continues to grow as well. As Henry Olson, former CEO of Edge Dynamics, has said, “Virtualizing a single-tenant application … is the definition of insanity.”
Treb Ryan talks about how many customers a virtualized approach to SaaS can support.
A fundamental question becomes, How many customers can a virtualized approach handle before it all breaks down? “The reality is I’ve seen people fall over at eight,” said Treb Ryan, CEO of OpSource, a leading cloud provider.

Ryan also noted: “People are using virtualization to take traditional software and deploy it into the cloud … as a way of faking ‘true’ multi-tenancy.”

Advantages of Multi-Tenancy

Because a single instance of the application can be leveraged by all customers, the “true” multi-tenant application is the de facto architecture for the highest level of SaaS efficiency. With this approach, all application infrastructure is shared with a single logical instance of the database, and the business logic is also leveraged across all users.

A “true” multi-tenant architecture has several key benefits for a SaaS provider:
Treb Ryan talks about "faking multi-tenancy using virtualization."
Treb Ryan continues to talk about "true" multi-tenancy.
The most successful SaaS companies, such a Salesfore.com, NetSuite, and Success Factors, all utilize and evangelize this “true” multi-tenancy approach. So why doesn’t every SaaS company?

Simply stated, achieving “true” multi-tenancy can be downright hard and expensive. Re-designing an existing on-premise application is difficult, time-consuming, and fraught with considerable risk. It requires that the database schema (all tables and views) be changed to support the concept of a tenant identifier (tenant ID). In addition to this requirement, each SQL access statement must be modified with a filter that returns data filtered by the tenant ID. What happens if a filter is forgotten? The security and integrity of all tenants’ data is compromised! Imagine one tenant running a query to return all sales leads for their company and receiving sales leads of its competitors.

Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, a leading SaaS and cloud consulting firm, believes multi-tenancy is essential for market leadership, operational efficiencies and ongoing customer retention.

The obvious conclusion is that “true” multi-tenancy is a requirement for SaaS.
Jeff Kaplan provides his views on multi-tenancy for SaaS applications.

A “Plug-In” Approach to “True” Multi-Tenancy

For most aspiring SaaS providers, an application rewrite is simply not a realistic option for two reasons:

Infrastructure and middleware software are well-understood concepts. The notion of layers of abstraction has been standard practice in the industry since E.F. Codd wrote his landmark white paper in 1969 introducing the concept of a relational database that gave rise to the client/server era. In 1991, James Gosling introduced the Java programming language. Within three years, BEA Systems was born with the notion of centralizing and abstracting business logic from the operating system. In other words, the Web application server was born.

Today, developers don’t attempt to write their own databases or application servers, so why would it make sense to undertake the complex process of building customer management constructs into the application? Ideally, multi-tenancy should be available as a “plug in” component just like an application server or database. The simple reason the paradigm of multi-tenancy as middleware has not yet reached critical mass in the SaaS community is that there is no legacy of vendors bringing such a solution to market as a product … until now.

Corent Technology, Inc. is introducing the first Multi-Tenant Server™ (MTS). It is now possible to “plug in” multi-tenancy into any Web-based application to realize all of the benefits associated with “true” multi-tenancy in efficient and sustainable SaaS. The company’s website shows its devotion to this cause, from videos of industry experts to a white paper explaining the requirements and benefits of multi-tenancy. Corent is so bullish on the future, in fact, that it’s offering a no-cost conversion of single-tenant applications to multi-tenant SaaS solutions.

Weaving in multi-tenancy by hand is no longer necessary. Now it’s easier than ever to achieve “true” multi-tenancy.

Additional Resources

About Treb Ryan

CEO at OpSource

Since 1996, Mr. Ryan has been instrumental in defining and creating services organizations that improve the quality and reliability of the technology infrastructures businesses depend on for communications and commerce. He is currently considered one of the leading thinkers in SaaS and sits on the Software Executive Board at the SIIA.

view the cloudbook profile for Treb Ryan >>

About Henry Olson

Former CEO at Edge Dynamics

Henry is a proven innovator with deep expertise across the enterprise solutions and services lifecycle. Veteran of multiple startups with leadership experience in products, technology, services and general management. Industry experience in manufacturing, distribution, financial services and healthcare.

view the cloudbook profile for Henry Olson >>

About Jeff Kaplan

Founder & Managing Director at THINKstrategies, Inc

Jeff Kaplan is the founder of THINKstrategies, the only independent strategic consulting firm dedicated to helping enterprise IT decision-makers and technology solution providers achieve their business objectives by leveraging the value of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), cloud computing and managed services.

view the cloudbook profile for Jeff Kaplan >>

About Corent Technology, Inc

Corent’s Multi-Tenant Server™ (MTS™) provides a smarter path to SaaS. It is a software “plug-in” that instantly transforms conventional software applications into robust multi-tenant SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions. Corent’s Smarter Platform for SaaS Transformation and Service Delivery not only helps clients avoid the time consuming and costly process of re-architecting their applications into SaaS, but provides them with a turnkey environment to deploy, operate, and manage their newly transformed SaaS solutions on any public, private or hybrid cloud with the technology stack of their choice while ensuring the lowest cost of service delivery.

view the cloudbook profile for Corent Technology, Inc >>

Cloudbook Journal
Vol 2 Issue 1, 2011

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Vol 2 Issue 1, 2011 of the
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