Jason Smith
Chief User Experience Officer

How to Choose a Multi-Tenant CMS

Oct 21, 2020
By: Jason Smith

CEOs, CTOs, CMOs and the rest of the C-Suite are well aware of how crucial the company’s CMS is. Choosing a CMS involves multiple stakeholders who must take various goals and priorities into consideration.

For ambitious brands looking to enter new markets, the decision-making process often extends beyond comparing costs and features, and into exploring which architecture type best supports international growth. According to Martech Advisor, by 2030, the average consumer will own at least fifteen devices connected to the internet. For companies, this means that delivering cohesive experiences across channels is a must if they want to stay at the top of their game.

Multi-tenancy, or multi-tenant architecture, is an increasingly sought after CMS architecture because of the potential it has to control and connect digital experiences using a single, streamlined plan and platform.

For companies with tens, hundreds, or even thousands of websites across the country or the world, managing content can be stressful and time-consuming, which is why companies need not only a solid strategy but also a solid CMS that makes things easier.

In this article, we’ll explain how you can go about choosing the right multi-tenant CMS for your brand.

Let’s dive deeper into the subject and see how multi-tenancy can help you scale your operations.

What is a Multi-tenant CMS?

A multi-tenant CMS consists of a single software instance that serves multiple web properties, also known as ‘tenants.’Multi-tenancy allows a brand to support more sites and teams without adding new CMS instances into the equation. This approach also allows for easier content and resource sharing.

In a multi-tenant CMS, each tenant shares a single CMS instance, and in some cases, a single database. Users who enter the data, tag specific points in the database with identifying markers for a particular client, which helps the software determine the client to whoom the data pertains.

Opting for an Enterprise CMS that provides multi-tenancy allows you to operate hundreds, even thousands of websites that share the same resources, content, and functionalities cost-effectively. For instance, dotCMS not only provides multi-tenancy, but it also offers multilingual support to serve international markets using granular locale settings.

Now that you know how multi-tenancy works, let’s take a look at some of the benefits of a multi-tenant CMS:

Key Things to Look Out For When Choosing a Multi-tenant CMS

When looking for a multi-tenant CMS, be sure to look out for the following:

  1. Proven Security Protocols

    On top of its inherently secure architecture, your chosen multi-tenant CMS should offer security features that protect and isolate each tenant’s data in more ways than one.

    Typically, a secure multi-tenant content management system will be able to restrict access by tenant and content type or structure. The multi-tenant CMS must require each tenant to use their individual log in to access their data and content. Content and assets should be able to be shared across tenants; however, only with appropriate permission. The site administrator should be able to restrict which resources are shared and which are only available to the individual tenant.

  2. Marketer-Friendliness

    While your CMO won’t pry too deeply into your CMS’s architecture, it’s vital to remember that marketers and brand managers are on the front lines of creating the content intended for your audience. Since these professionals rely on delivering professional content at speed and scale, your chosen multi-tenant CMS must also be easy to use. Content authors need a CMS that makes it simple to add, edit, arrange, and publish content quickly and efficiently regardless of channel.

    With dotCMS, global brands can leverage our visual SPA editor (Edit Mode Anywhere), to empower marketing teams with in-line editing, page layout editing, and drag-and-drop interfaces—all in a headless architecture.

  3. Headless Architecture

    Having a multi-tenant CMS with headless architecture is now a necessity. With over 50 billion IoT devices expected to be in households and businesses by 2020, we have already seen how consumers expectations have been disrupted. In the voice speaker market alone, 65 percent of those who own an Amazon Echo or Google Home can’t imagine going back to the days before they had a smart speaker.

    With a headless CMS, not only will you be able to reuse resources and content across multiple sites and web-based applications like single page applications, but you can also reuse content on various IoT devices as well, including Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple Watch.

    Read Now: The IoT Revolution in Higher Education: How Gettysberg College Build a Set of Alexa Skills

  4. Trusted by Leading Brands

    With so many CMS products on the market, it can help to know which companies have worked with that product, and the results the clients have achieved. When searching for a multi-tenant solution, look out for testimonials, case studies that prove the resilience of the platform’s architecture.

Best Practices For Implementing A Multi-Tenant CMS

Now that you know what you need to look for when choosing the best multi-tenant CMS, let’s talk about the best practices you need to follow before implementing a multi-tenant solution.

Plan Ahead

Devising a plan before implementing any solution is a must if you want things to go smooth. A plan builds confidence and gives every person involved in the project a clear view of what needs to be done to implement the tools in the right way.

Ask yourself and your stakeholders these three questions:

  • What kind of websites and apps will your multi-tenant model include?
  • What kind of elements do your websites require?
  • Are some of these elements shareable or are they unique?

Define Your Content Architecture

Too many websites and apps are designed from an organization-centric point of view, using language and structures that just confuse the customer. Defining the way your information is arranged is paramount to building a functional website.When defining your architecture, think from the perspective of the customer and aim at providing the maximum clarity and usability possible to simplify interactions and integrations.

Enlist The Right Multi-Tenant CMS

If you followed the previous suggestions, it’s time to select your neural center of operations. Here’s where a hybrid CMS comes in. By separating content from presentation, a hybrid CMS allows you to create content once and repurpose it as many times as possible and across platforms, ensuring that you send a consistent message to every channel and site.

With a multi-tenant CMS, you store data in a central location from which all the connected sites can pull, which is a must for businesses with multiple digital instances that share content. A hybrid CMS makes content reusable and scalable, which means that if you want to launch a new digital experience, your developers can focus on creating the frontend and then use the metadata to pull existing content into the new frontend.

dotCMS: The Market Leader in Multi-Tenant CMS

The dotCMS platform was built with international growth in mind. The platform’s multi-tenant architecture allows tenants to create new hostnames and aliases for each tenant, just as if each tenant had their own site. The platform also provides independent storage for each tenant, which improves the protection of data and content for each tenant. The tag repository feature also lets authors create their own tags, or use shared tags to differentiate their data.

One of the main reasons the API-first architecture can help businesses manage multi-tenanted sites is because it enables fast and affordable development and maintenance. Reusability, one of the main tenets of the hybrid architecture helps IT teams build digital experiences that are more scalable and flexible. And if you need to launch a new site, pulling content from the repository is simple enough for marketers to do it.

Besides, when you work with a hybrid headless CMS like dotCMS, you can boost your multi-tenant sites with the best-of-breed integrations out there to improve your overall website strategy. Also, you gain a granular, bird’s eye view of the operations of every site, amplifying your efforts and delivering solid gains.

Want to see how dotCMS helped Junior Achievement (one of the largest youth NGOs in the world) manage 120 websites? Read our case study: ‘How Junior Achievement Manages 120 Websites with dotCMS

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case study

How Junior Achievement Manages 120 Websites with dotCMS

Thanks to dotCMS’s NoCode approach, Junior Achievement achieved the flexibility to create multiple websites without having to worry about the code-based heavy-uplifting.

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