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Demystifying multitenancy 1: the technology behind a multitenant system

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<< Demystifying multitenancy: Introduction

Demystifying multitenancy II: Configuration and Maintenance >>

Demystifying multitenancy III: How does this technology contribute to the HR management of your business >>

Demystifying multitenancy: 4 keys to saving time and money >>

 

As already mentioned in my introduction, a simple definition of a multitenant system that includes all the implications of the technology behind it would be the following: “A system which is shared among many customers, but that behaves in a flexible way and operates as if it is not shared with anyone else”. As I also pointed out, I believe this is not something trivial. Here you’ll find some technical aspects of a multitenant system that explains why.

All for one, one for all!

The same way The Three Musketeers used to live by the motto “un pour tous, tous pour un”! a multitenant system is a combination, of three basic (core) features that separately are not very differential but jointly are very powerful:

• Data security and data sharing
• Process sharing and object orientation
• Flexibility

As in the case of the three inseparable friends Athos, Porthos and Aramis, each one is very important to the other. The multitenant principle will just be achieved when we manage to get the right combination of these three elements. I could write several pages to describe the benefits, but for the time being I will try to summarize each of them just enough for someone to get a clear understanding of the general concept.


Data security and data sharing

Data security is critical and basic. So essential that we assume that a system without a role based scheme, auditory, etc., is not qualified to support virtually any multitenant environment. You’ll need common security roles to meet the majority of the security use-cases you might come across. To save time in security management, common definitions should also be shared among all customers connected to the platform. This drives us directly to the concept of data sharing, since role definitions are data in the backend repository. Also, data sharing makes it possible to create, for example, a report across different companies of a large organization. In a multitenant environment you can quickly create reports consolidating data from different companies like a real-time worldwide employee headcount.

Process sharing and object orientation

In a multitenant system and similar to data sharing and data security, processes follow the same principle. They should be defined and shared among different customers who could reuse common processes or only adjust some aspects of those processes. In special cases a new process can be created for a group of companies and then eventually be promoted to be available at a global level to be shared among different customers.

This brings me to introduce here the concept of object orientation. As you can imagine, processes and objects share many concepts and in fact you can associate a process to a business object. A common process (or in other words an object) could be defined as a ‘parent’ object. A process adapted to a specific customer could ‘inherit’ the parent object properties and contain some specific customer behaviours. This object oriented technological features are related to the next topic.

Flexibility

One of the most important aspects of a multitenant system is its flexibility. A customer may request specific and unique changes to a process making it no longer be suitable for general sharing. The main problem here is that we want to reuse some aspects of this common process but also add these changes to accommodate these specific client requests all while maintaining the lifecycle and reusability of the pieces involved. We also can’t forget our commitment to other clients using these processes and must ensure no negative impact on their use of this same functionality. The question is how can we manage this incredibly complex situation?

Edu Fernandes

Eduardo Fernandes recibió su Ph.D en Ciencias Físicas en la EuropeanSpace Agency (ESA) / Universidad Complutense de Madrid (1995). Actualmente es Jefe Tecnológico de Producto en Meta4. En esta posición es responsable de la definición de las líneas estratégicas de la base tecnológica de los productos de Meta4, como las soluciones KnowNet y PeopleNet. Su principal función es analizar el mercado en búsqueda de nuevas corrientes tecnológicas estudiando la posibilidad de integrarlas con el producto global. Anteriormente a su etapa en Meta4 fue responsable del departamento de software del Centro Científico Operativo del Minisat-01 (ESA), el primer satélite español. Mientras realizaba sus estudios de postgrado, el Dr. Fernandes se encargó de la construcción tanto de software como de hardware para la automatización del mayor telescopio brasileño (1992). Eduardo está certificado como personal investigador por la Agencia de Acreditación en Investigación, Desarrollo e Innovación Tecnológica (AIDIT).

Eduardo Fernandes received his PhD in Physics from the European Space Agency (ESA) / Complutense University of Madrid (1995). Currently the Head of Product Technology at Meta4, he is responsible for defining the strategic lines of the technology-based Meta4 products like the PeopleNet and KnowNet solutions. His main role is to analyze the market in search of new technology trends, studying these to see how to integrate these with the global product. Prior to Meta4 he was Head of the Software Department at the Scientific Operations Center for Minisat-01 (ESA), the first Spanish satellite. While undertaking his PhD studies, Dr. Fernandes was also responsible for building both the software and hardware for automating Brazil's largest telescope (1992). Eduardo is a certified professional researcher through the Spanish Accreditation Agency for Technology Research, Development and Innovation (AIDIT).

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