Best ERP Multi-Tenancy Options

When talking about Cloud ERP alternatives, you often hear references to tenancy – and most often multi-tenancy.  What does this mean? And if you are choosing a cloud ERP solution why should you care?  In this blog, I will explore what tenancy really means, how it has changed over the years, and how a modern ERP system, Acumatica Cloud ERP, has taken advantage of technology advancements to provide a more flexible approach to the tenancy concept.


Cloud ERP solutions first became viable about 15 years ago.  NetSuite was one of the first web based ERP (Now called Cloud ERP) options available and became the most well-known solution in this space.

Cloud ERP Benefits


As shown in the summary above, Cloud ERP solutions offered a number of benefits over the traditional on-premise ERP solutions. Some of the most commonly cited include:

  • Elimination of local hardware
  • Local database and network software
  • Reduction of IT personnel needed to support this on-premise environment
  • Scalability
  • Lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)


Multi-tenancy was Born

In order to deliver these benefits, these initial solutions were delivered in a multi-tenancy environment.  Tenancy has to do with how your data is stored and used by the application as well as how an application is used by multiple customers.  Multi-Tenancy is an architecture in which a single instance of a software solution or a database serves multiple customers.  A customer is considered a tenant, much like an apartment building has multiple tenants sharing the same environment.  Multi-tenancy is a common approach used by most cloud ERP providers such as NetSuite and Intacct.


Historically, there were a number of multi-tenancy benefits being touted.  Many of these are shown in the graphic above.  But these tenancy benefits were at times only superficial and perhaps more of a benefit to the software publisher than to the user.  And in some cases the true benefit to users was exaggerated.

In addition there were some limitations to this multi-tenant approach that need to be considered:

  • Lack of control over when you upgrade
  • Limited customization capabilities
  • No full access to your data
  • Inability to get your data in a full database format when desired


But that was then.  Technology continues to evolve  and many of the technological limitations that led to a multi-tenancy approach are no longer a restriction.  This has led to more flexibility in your tenancy options.  You will still find the full multi-tenant options where everything is run on shared, virtualized, multi-tenant resources and a provider hosts your solution on a subscription basis.  But in addition to this option, you are now seeing both Hybrid Cloud and Private Cloud models that offer a different set of benefits and capabilities.  The graphic above shows some of the options available.


A Better Approach

Acumatica Cloud ERP, a newer exciting option in the cloud ERP space, has taken technology enhancements made available in recent years and leveraged those to deliver the greatest level of flexibility with your cloud deployment options.

As mentioned previously, the technological constraints that drove many cloud ERP software companies to adapt a multi-tenant approach as its standard no longer apply.  Some of the capabilities that have evolved in the last five years include:

  • High availability and disaster recovery – this used to be touted as a benefit of multi-tenancy. However you no longer need multi-tenancy in order to deliver high availability and disaster recovery.  Virtualization, replication, and multi-geo zone deployment capabilities built into moderns solutions address these concerns.
  • Continuous delivery of updates, the ability to stay on the current version, leaving no one behind – this too was framed as a benefit of multi-tenancy. But today it can be delivered without multi-tenancy. Agile development and technologies that allow developers to manage code and merge in fixes and features on demand have evolved to a level where systems are smart enough to make updates and upgrades really simple.
  • Snapshotting – the capability to create an image of your complete system and data that can be used to restore to previous states or to create additional test (“sandboxes”) or development environments used to be difficult and time consuming. With today’s technology they are easy and quick.
  • Customizations – in most multi-tenant environments, you were limited in what customizations you could apply. But now with built in Customization Manager modules, the capture of customizations that sit on top of your application allow you to create more robust customer-specific customizations and these can move freely between versions.


How to Think About Tenancy

When talking about tenancy you are really thinking in terms of two aspects of the cloud ERP solution – the application and the database.

You can now have tenancy options across both of these areas, meaning you could have:

  • both a multi-tenant application and multi-tenant database instances,
  • a multi-tenant application but dedicated (single) instance, or
  • a dedicated (single) instance of both the application and database.


You Are Unique

This flexibility makes the greatest deployment options available to fit the particular needs of a specific customer – rather than every customer being deployed in the same environment.

Acumatica has fully embraced this and provides multiple Cloud Deployment Models to better match your environment.

You can choose from a Public, Hybrid or Private deployment option.

Acumatica’s default deployment model is either Hybrid or Private. based on number of users, volume, and size.


The Hybrid approach is typically chosen if the customer wants continuous updates.  However, it should be understood that even a Hybrid approach can deliver such things as load balancing and high availability with multiple application servers.  And Acumatica will utilize some multi-tenant aspects such as at the hardware level via shared virtual servers.


So what does this mean to you?

What value does this new deployment flexibility deliver?  With this approach to deployment along with Acumatica’s powerful underlying platform, you will find a compelling list of advantages not offered by any other mid-market ERP solution.

Some of the most highly valued benefits include:

  • Data ownership and access as a complete database,
  • Free sandboxes,
  • Snapshots for easy point in time restore,
  • Ability to customize and upgrade those customization easily.


And this can be delivered in either a SaaS (hosting provided), private cloud (self-hosted) or on-premise deployment.

In addition, as an added licensing benefit, Acumatica does not license per-user allowing the customer to add users to the system and involve everyone in various aspects of the Acumatica application and platform.

Acumatica offers a unique and compelling option if you are considering a new ERP solution.

If you are beginning a search for a new ERP solution, download our handy ERP Evaluation Toolkit. It’s free, and works for any solution. Get the Toolkit Now.

Contact Crestwood Associates (847-394-8820) to learn more about Acumatica and how it can benefit your growing business.

by Crestwood Associates




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