How to Choose a Multi-Tenant CMS

Image Credit: Domenico Loia
November 02, 2022
Jason Smith

Retailers with multiple locations across the country and global companies seeking to enter new markets have to consider a lot more than smaller businesses regarding their CMS. Managing content can be stressful and time-consuming for companies with tens, hundreds, or even thousands of websites across the country or the world. These organizations need a sound strategy and a robust CMS that makes things easier.

A CMS with multi-tenant architecture can enable them to manage multiple websites and content applications using one CMS instance. 

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. 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 whom 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.

Why Enterprises Prefer a Multi-Tenant CMS

Having a multi-tenant CMS provides numerous advantages, particularly for enterprise companies:

Establish a Global Presence

A multi-tenant CMS enables brands to establish a global presence more easily. They can quickly launch new websites that cater to different audiences in different countries without suffering from a drain on resources. 

Lower Total Cost of Ownership 

The alternative to a multi-tenant CMS is having multiple CMSs to handle different sites, which can quickly become very expensive. With a multi-tenant CMS, the total cost of ownership becomes much lower as hundreds of sites can be managed using a single CMS.

Better Scalability

Scaling with a multi-tenant CMS is smoother than with other CMS platforms. Hosting capacity can be quickly added if another site is needed while maintaining the same shared code. 

Easier Maintenance and Upgrading

IT staff only need to worry about one CMS instance when it comes to upgrading and maintenance. Software updates can be rolled out across every tenant using the CMS rather than dealing with each one separately. 

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:

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 can restrict access by tenant and content type or structure. The multi-tenant CMS must require each tenant to use their individual login 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.

Headless Architecture

Having a multi-tenant CMS with headless architecture is now a necessity. 

With a headless CMS, you will be able to reuse resources and content across multiple sites and web-based applications like single-page applications. You can also reuse content on various IoT devices, including Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Apple Watch.


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.

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 clients’ results. When searching for a multi-tenant solution, look for testimonials and 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 smoothly. 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 correctly.

Ask yourself and your stakeholders these three questions:

  1. What kind of websites and apps will your multi-tenant model include?

  2. What kind of elements do your websites require?

  3. Are some of these elements shareable, or are they unique?

Define Your Content Architecture

A major benefit of multi-tenancy is the ability to create content once and reuse it across sites. Once you have a plan for your global site strategy, it’s time to define the specific content types to be shared across your digital properties. 

  1. Define the content types you plan to structure and reuse.

  2. Think about all of the ways a particular content type may be displayed– in a product listing, detail page, banner ad, app vs website, etc. 

  3. Define the granular fields for each content structure– Titles/Headlines, short descriptions, long descriptions, images, etc. 

  4. Plan for how content will be sorted, curated or related. Will you need consistent categories or tags? Which relationships will there be between content types, like authors and articles, or products and instruction guides, etc. 

Leverage Pre-approved Content Blocks

With pre-approved structured content blocks, your marketing and development teams can easily roll out campaigns or new websites. Content blocks that have already been authorized and templated can be used to maintain consistency and streamline workflows, reducing the time that needs to be spent back and forth between different users or departments.

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. 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

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 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 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.

Junior Achievement, a global non-profit that reaches more than 12 million students in over 100 countries worldwide and needed a way to manage hundreds of region-specific sites. However, their previous system left them with inconsistent branding and difficulty training their staff. They were also looking for better workflows to keep those hundreds of microsites consistent, the ability to reuse content to reduce workloads, data privacy, and SEO features. By opting for dotCMS, they could achieve that consistency and much more. Time and money resources can be saved, and new launches happen much faster. 

Canadian telecommunications company TELUS, which generates over $10 billion per year and employs over 5000 people, was searching for a new internal portal that could keep all of its employees up to date. The slow and inefficient system they had before was causing latency issues, and with a plan to double the number of users on the platform, they knew they needed a change. After migrating to dotCMS, they could set up multiple brands and manage them all using dotCMS’ multisite feature. The new portal has also made the employee experience a whole lot better. 

Learn more about dotCMS’ multi-tenant features

Jason Smith
Chief User Experience Officer

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