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Multi-tenancy: Emulation Or The Real Thing?

March 22, 2011 No Comments

It’s a mark of how much progress SaaS has made towards mainstream acceptance that vendors entering the space now proudly wear multi-tenancy as a badge of honor, rather than espousing the argument that it’s a side-issue that’s irrelevant to customers. But in their eagerness to put a check mark in the box, I do find that some vendors are inclined to use a somewhat limited definition of what constitutes multi-tenancy. Not that I want to veer into a ‘green crystals’ debate here about whose multi-tenancy follows the one true path. But the fact remains that there are ways of emulating multi-tenancy that deliver a quick-fix route to some of the advantages of the model, without delivering the full benefits of a top-to-bottom multi-tenant architecture.

This line of thinking was brought into focus for me during a briefing the other week with cloud platform vendor Gigaspaces, which was preparing to launch its new cloud enablement offering at the recent Cloud Connect conference. Gigaspaces is already well known for its cloud infrastructure platform products. It is now going to offer PaaS and SaaS platform software, too. These products will make it much easier for enterprises and ISVs to gain many of the benefits of multi-tenancy, much in the same way that the Corent and Apprenda products I wrote about last month do for ISVs. But whereas those platforms had built-in as-a-service components that took care of important operational functionality such as provisioning, entitlement management and usage monitoring, Gigaspaces leaves it up to the customer to plug in their choice of third-party middleware to add such functions. This means that its own platform stands or falls very much on the core proposition of how well it makes multi-tenancy work for its customers.

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