Back in February, we tried to shed some light on the various ERP deployment options (https://www.180systems.com/understanding-erp-deployment-options/). One of the most confusing options was whether the vendor offered multi-tenant architecture, which allows one instance of the software to serve multiple companies at the same time, and brings down the costs of the hosting fees.
Some vendors have not built multi-tenant from the ground-up or changed their code to accommodate it. Instead they have used middleware and Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) to get something equivalent. Sorry – I realize that these terms also lead to more confusion and so another approach is needed.
We are finding that vendors avoid discussing multi-tenant architecture partly because they may not offer it, but also because prospects and customers don’t understand it. Rather than figuring out the underlying technology, you can ask tough questions to determine whether the system provides the benefits of multi-tenant architecture. The main benefit is that the system is maintained and upgraded by the vendor and not by the customer. So, find out who upgrades the software and whether there are any costs associated with the upgrade.
Some vendors will tell you that only simple systems are suitable for multi-tenant architecture as you won’t be able to customize the system as needed. This is true for customizations that change the source code of the system but not true if the customization is outside of the source code. Some vendors offer what they call configuration changes to their system, which survive any upgrades. For example, you could add a user-defined field and use it to filter or sort a report outside of source code. You could even add program logic outside of source code to perform a function not included in the system.