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Tim Lozier

Management

Dedicated or Multi-Tenant Cloud Deployment?

Which should you choose?

Published: Tuesday, August 15, 2017 - 12:02

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The difference between cloud providers is often found in their chosen deployment method. Typically, software can be implemented either through multi-tenant or dedicated cloud environments. With the advent of virtual servers, cloud environments have moved past the “trend” phase and are now a reality, and almost a standard, of many quality management system (QMS) software offerings.

Multi-tenancy is the ability to serve multiple customers from a single, centralized system. All the data are stored in shared databases and hosted on shared servers, yet are designed to ensure separation of data across all the customers so that the data aren’t shown to the wrong user. Cloud environments are hosted realms where servers enable virtual operating environments to “float” and draw what bandwidth is needed to make the software work.

At one point, multi-tenancy (meaning shared) was considered the only delivery method for cloud implementation. It was most attractive to cloud vendors in that it reduces infrastructure costs and consolidates administration tasks. Deploying a single, multi-tenant system is potentially less expensive for the service provider. System updates can be rolled out in less time, and server resources can be more flexibly allocated. But these advantages seem to only benefit the service provider, with very little positive impact on the customer.

On the other hand, dedicated (not shared), secure cloud environments provide far more benefits to customers than multi-tenant systems, leading to a better QMS experience.

Here are some of the benefits of deploying software through a dedicated cloud environment:

Security

Security is a top priority for all organizations in need of quality management. It’s even more important within regulated industries, such as life sciences and food and beverage, where the smallest release of information into the wrong hands could have potentially disastrous consequences for the integrity of the business and possibly the product and consumers.

Even though cloud systems have made great strides in their security, organizations cannot be completely certain that information is safe when it is sharing its solution with other companies. Even if the data segregation is completely successful, the chance of a security breach from an internal bug or an external hack is inherently greater than if the databases were separate. Due to the large number of access points, the chances of an unauthorized user entering your designated server space is greater.

Regulated industries need the assurance of a dedicated, secure personal cloud. This type of cloud provides a greater sense of security because the company has control over who can access it.

Control of product and upgrades

If everyone is using the same cloud, how much control could you have? How could you configure it to meet your specific needs when everyone needs to do the same? What you end up with is a system with a large feature set and many options, just like a system with no configuration at all. You pay a premium fee for a product and yet must use the system under the settings of all the tenants. Configuration is limited because it would affect the performance of the other cloud users, making multi-tenancy the least effective choice for organization that have specific needs or are looking for a customizable QMS.

Multi-tenancy does not just limit your control over the product itself; it also limits how the product works for you over time through updates and changes. Although fast and simple upgrades are often the biggest benefit of a multi-tenant cloud, a closer look reveals that it is more of a benefit for the vendor than for the customer because:
• There is no choice in the timing of the update, forcing customers to follow the service provider’s schedule.
• Any change management task (e.g., internal training, updating documentation) must be done within strict dates set by the service provider.
• There is no possibility of delaying an update, even if it may affect the customer’s business processes.

You should be able to control how and when they upgrade and make changes based on what works best for the organization. With multi-tenancy, the level of control is sacrificed. The service providers roll out their upgrades and changes quickly and on their own schedule because it is cost-effective for them, without the concern for how it may impact other business operations. Both day-to-day activities as well as major projects can suffer from poorly timed interruptions by unplanned updates.

By choosing a dedicated, secure cloud model, you are regaining the control to move within the cloud. If you want a dedicated server with a secure connection as an extension to your own network, that should be a choice. You can choose when to update, how long you need for testing and change management, and even roll back the update if necessary. You can adjust server resources to meet your unique needs. You can even take your system in-house at any time, if you want. Again, the benefit lies in the control and flexibility of a dedicated cloud environment, allowing you to make your QMS mold to your needs, not the other way around.

This is an important decision because it’s a permanent one. Once you pick a location for your solution to be hosted, it cannot be moved. Don’t be fooled by multi-tenant hosts that claim they can eventually move you to a private cloud, since that just can’t happen. Look for a solution that’s a dedicated from the beginning so you can be sure you have your own cloud and your own space.

Cost

As vendors compete for space and business, they are lowering their prices to stay competitive. Therefore, your focus when choosing a system should not be so much the cost, but what you are getting for the cost.

For example, let’s say you are shopping for a new car. When you get to the dealership you realize that you’ve stumbled across a sale where all makes and models of cars are available and are the same price. Suddenly, your possible choices have grown.

Similarly, without cost as a factor when choosing a cloud solution, you can focus on what the solutions have to offer you. Based on the key differences outlined between multi-tenant and secure dedicated cloud, you would want to pick the dedicated cloud. You are receiving a better software experience and not paying any extra for it.

Conclusion

Cloud solutions have many potential benefits for your organization—but remember, not all cloud models are created equally. Different cloud deployment options have different impacts on the businesses using it.

When planning to implement a QMS, look for the solution that will keep your data safe and secure, and will provide you with the level of service you need, the flexibility to optimize your business processes, and the speed and performance that is expected of an enterprise solution.

In a multi-tenant environment, a shared environment can lead to a loss of bandwidth, lack of flexibility and control, and compromised security. In a dedicated cloud environment, you get the same benefits as a multi-tenant environment, but with additional benefits such as optimized bandwidth, flexibility to adapt to your business processes, control over maintenance and updates, and additional security.

Discuss

About The Author

Tim Lozier’s picture

Tim Lozier

Tim Lozier is the director of product strategy for EtQ, in Farmingdale, New York. He has extensive experience in the software industry, and has been involved in the creation of leading-edge technologies in user-interface design and development. He began his career in digital marketing before taking a turn into software design and marketing at Quark Inc. Since then, he’s never looked back—helping to foster the development (and blog about) leading quality management software solutions.