Multi-tenant cloud systems have long been a good option for various companies in the cloud space. However, many companies still don’t realize how multi-tenant architecture can work to their benefit. Some companies have adopted a complex multi-tenant cloud system while unaware of the challenges this setup presents.

Here’s a brief guide to multi-tenant cloud systems, their benefits and challenges, and how Pepperdata can help.

What is multi-tenancy?

Techtarget defines multi-tenant cloud as “a cloud computing architecture that allows customers to share computing resources in a public or private cloud.”

A simple analogy of this is an apartment building. Each individual owner has access to the unit they own, and only that unit. The owner of the building and other key personnel (housekeeper, electrician, etc.) can have access to all of the units. However, everyone in the same building still shares resources, like water and electricity. 

A multi-tenant architecture follows that logic. It allows users individualized spaces to store their projects and data. In a cloud network, multi-tenant cloud systems include complex permissions that allow users access only to their data, while keeping it secure from other tenants. Only through enabling certain cloud provider permissions can tenants access the data of others.

What are the benefits of multi-tenancy?

Many of the benefits of cloud computing are only possible because of multi-tenancy. Here are two crucial ways multi-tenancy improves cloud computing:

  • Better use of resources: One machine reserved for one tenant isn’t efficient, as that one tenant is not likely to use all of the machine’s computing power. By sharing machines among multiple tenants, use of available resources is maximized.
  • Lower costs: With multiple customers sharing resources, a cloud vendor can offer their services to many customers at a much lower cost than if each customer required their own dedicated infrastructure.

Moreover, multi-tenant cloud users can also enjoy a system they can scale on demand. Not having to manage software or infrastructure is an added bonus as well. This means tenants have more opportunity to focus on other important tasks. 

What are the drawbacks of multi-tenancy?

As with any system, multi-tenancy does have its own disadvantages:

Possible security risks and compliance issues

Some companies may not be able to store data within shared infrastructure, no matter how secure, due to regulatory requirements. Additionally, security problems or corrupted data from one tenant could spread to other tenants on the same machine. 

The “Bad Tenant” Effect

If one tenant is using an inordinate amount of computing power, this can slow down performance for the other tenants. This could mean that at least one tenant is getting the “temporarily restricted” warning. Moreover, other instances of the bad tenant effect can include storage requirement issues in modern cloud hosting in addition to hypervisor and processor behavior that results in operations taking more time to complete.

The bad tenant effect can be avoided if the cloud provider client knows precisely what workloads are being impacted and how. Case in point: Pepperdata Platform Spotlight helps with quick diagnosis of performance issues and allows you to make resource decisions that eliminate this effect. A cluster performance monitoring solution that includes real-time and historical information about your clusters—like system demand, abusive users, and wasteful applications—will help you drill down into your system and big data applications. Thus, ensuring fair resource allocation and management among the tenants.

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