The Benefits of Multi-tenant CMS Solutions

Mar 26, 2019

As enterprise organizations set out to achieve international growth, we are seeing many firms switching out their single tenant CMS solution for a multi-tenant CMS. This article takes a look at the reasons for this change.

What is a Multi-tenant CMS?

A multi-tenant CMS is a centrally hosted CMS instance with one central database serving multiple “tenants”, each of which can manage and control their host independently. For instance, most SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) applications are multi-tenant, as the cloud-hosted application serves thousands of customers, with updates and bug fixes happening centrally, not on a per-user or per-tenant basis.

Multi-Tenant software includes all the necessary infrastructure needed to serve multiple clients. Clients share both a single CMS and a single database. Users who enter the data tag specific points in the database with identifying markers for a specific client, which helps the software determine the client to which the data pertains. 

Since a multi-tenant CMS allows for the sharing of content, resources, and files, brands can scale with multiple websites and applications knowing that their campaigns have consistent brand messaging, and all teams have access to the same, centralized resources. Also, content creators can create content for one site and share the same content across multiple sites or channels without the need to create duplicate content for each channel.

The Flaws of Using a Single Tenant Solution For International Growth

For an enterprise to attain an international presence, they need to develop multiple brands and websites to cater to the needs of different markets, and they also need to localize their content to make it relevant. this can include delivering content in multiple languages or presenting their content in a format depending on the common consumer behaviors associated with that region.

Before, enterprises had used single-tenant CMS solutions (i.e. multi-site solutions) to develop multiple websites and applications. On a small scale, these single-tenant solutions were manageable, but when it came to delivering a consistent experience at enterprise-level where there are hundreds, if not thousands of websites, single-tenant solutions immediately began to show its limitations.

While single tenant solutions enabled users to create multiple sites, each instance had its own set of files, folders, databases and content repositories. And when you’re having to manage thousands of sites individually, you can imagine how resource-intensive this can get.

Developers had to maintain, update and upgrade each instance individually, and marketers had to create and manage content for each site as well. Developers ended up with an overwhelming workload, and marketers had to manually duplicate their content which led to inconsistencies and errors in their brand messaging.

This is why enterprises started moving to multi-tenant CMS solutions.

A multi-tenant CMS allow enterprises to operate multiple sites through a single interface. But instead of assigning each site its own separate resources, a multi-tenant CMS centralizes all the resources, including content, and shares it with all your sites.


Multi-Tenant Ready CMS vs. Multi-Site CMS

Before choosing a CMS, an important distinction must be understood: the difference between a CMS that has the capability of handling a multi-tenant environment, as opposed to a system that can manage multiple sites.

A multi-site CMS handles each site individually, without necessarily giving each site access to a centralized software or database. This silos teams, and removes multi-tenant benefits such as content repurposing and organization-wide updates, as each site will need to have its own set of resources, files, and content. The multi-tenant system on the other hand, allows all sites to draw from a central content repository, simplifying site and content management and streamlining international growth.

Why You Should Look For a CMS That Has Both Multi-Site and Multi-Tenant Built-in

While your choice of multi-tenant vs. multi-site can depend on your business goals and requirements, a system that has both capabilities has some powerful advantages. For projects that require multiple databases or differing infrastructures, a multi-site CMS can be highly useful. For companies that rely on only a single database to deliver their content across multiple platforms, the multi-tenant CMS can still be effective. The platform that supports both types of delivery can be highly flexible and adaptable to your needs.

dotCMS supports both multi-tenant and multi-site capabilities. When creating a new site in dotCMS, you are able to assign a site to either a shared repository or an independent via its tag storage feature.

For brands wanting to achieve a global presence, or are already serving many international markets, a multi-tenant CMS can prove to be key to your international growth. Below, we’ve highlighted how a multi-tenant CMS simplifies the process of launching new websites, single page applications, and other web properties.

1. Lower Total Cost of Ownership, More Time Saved

Since multi-tenant CMS solutions share its resources, content, files, databases and folders, your investment will dramatically reduce over time, as you increase the number of tenants (or sites) on the platform. Following the principles of economies of scale, each time you add a new tenant, you are incurring no additional cost.

And because your sites are using the same set of resources, content creators will no longer have to produce content separately for each instance. Instead, they have gained the ability to make content once, and reuse it multiple times. As for updating the content, they would only need to make the necessary amendments via the central repository and it will automatically update all the instances that are utilizing that particular content.

One of our clients at dotCMS, TELUS, experienced these benefits when they switch from their aging content portal, that served over 400 retail stores, over to dotCMS' multi-tenant CMS offering. They saw the speed of their daily content editing reduce from 10 mins down to 30 seconds, saving both time and money.

2. Greater Efficiency During Growth

With resources and other technological elements shared with the multiple instances in a multi-tenant architecture, developers have a much easier time assessing and optimizing the performance of the entire system as well as updating the central technology stack if and when needed.

dotCMS Cloud provides your enterprise with the capability of deploying websites, intranets, extranets, portals and apps in a secure, scalable and fully-customizable manner without heavy reliance on the IT team. Thus achieving faster time-to-market and reducing total cost of ownership.

3. Smoother Onboarding of New Customers

International brands, as mentioned, serve a plethora of different markets with each having their own needs and requirements. But for enterprises to deliver more effective campaigns to increase engagement, generate new leads and improve conversions, enterprises have to segment their target market.  

A multi-tenant CMS makes it easier to create landing pages, microsites, blogs and brand websites for specific segments. dotCMS, for example, allows you to create new experiences via its user-friendly interface with drag-and-drop capabilities to create unique page templates that you can reuse on different domains and subdomains.

4. Easier To Maintain, Update, and Upgrade

This is a huge benefactor for developers. The maintenance process of a multi-tenant CMS is extremely cost-effective since all the tenants share code and databases from the same pool. Developers no longer need to go into each instance to run maintenance or install any upgrades or updates, everything is done in one centralized location.

And since developers are not spending most of their time on looking after every single instance, they have more time to focus on more pressing matters and develop innovative applications which could give your enterprise a competitive advantage.

dotCMS is a framework agnostic CMS, which means developers can pick and choose their favorite development tools to create their frontend applications and integrate it with the dotCMS platform via its API-driven environment.

5. A Multi-Tenant CMS is Built to Scale

As all your instances are sharing the same core codebase, a multi-tenant CMS enables you to quickly scale your instances by developing on top of the shared code, making it ideal for enterprise companies and organizations.

Unlike a single-tenant CMS solution that required developers to create everything from scratch, with a multi-tenant architecture, since each tenant is using a common infrastructure, there is no need to increase the number of data centers or your hosting capacity to accommodate for each tenant.

dotCMS’ architecture is composed of multiple microservices which can be scaled independently and horizontally.

The Key to International Growth

Whether your brand already operates internationally, or you plan to grow internationally in the near future, building with a multi-tenancy solution, like dotCMS, can help you easily achieve your goals. With a lower Total Cost of Ownership, scalability, and easy maintenance, brands are finding that multi-tenancy CMSs are the best path for international growth.

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