Why Global Brands Need a Multi-tenant CMS

Victoria Burt

For an enterprise to attain an international presence, they need to develop multiple brands and websites to cater to the needs of different markets, and they also need to localize their content to make it relevant. This can include delivering content in multiple languages or presenting their content in a format depending on the common consumer behaviors associated with that region, which is best accomplished with a multi-tenant CMS. 

What is a multi-tenant CMS?

A multi-tenant CMS is a centrally hosted CMS instance with one central database serving multiple “tenants”, each of which can manage and control their host independently. For instance, most SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) applications are multi-tenant, as the cloud-hosted application serves thousands of customers, with updates and bug fixes happening centrally, not on a per-user or per-tenant basis.

Multi-Tenant software includes all the necessary infrastructure needed to serve multiple clients. Clients share both a single CMS and a single database. Users who enter the data tag specific points in the database with identifying markers for a specific client, which helps the software determine the client to which the data pertains. 

Since a multi-tenant CMS allows for the sharing of content, resources, and files, brands can scale with multiple websites and applications knowing that their campaigns have consistent brand messaging, and all teams have access to the same, centralized resources. Also, content creators can create content for one site and share the same content across multiple sites or channels without the need to create duplicate content for each channel.

The limitations of a single tenant solution 

Many enterprises still use single-tenant CMS solutions (i.e. multi-site solutions) to develop multiple websites and applications. On a small scale, these single-tenant solutions are manageable, but when it comes to delivering a consistent experience at enterprise-level where there are hundreds, if not thousands of websites, single-tenant solutions immediately show their limitations.

While single tenant solutions enable users to create multiple sites, each instance has its own set of files, folders, databases and content repositories. And when you’re having to manage thousands of sites individually, you can imagine how resource-intensive this can get.

In the single-tenant environment, developers have to maintain, update and upgrade each instance individually, and marketers have to create and manage content for each site as well. So when a large enterprise grows, developers can't keep up with the overwhelming workload, and marketers manually duplicate their content leading to inconsistencies and errors in their brand messaging.

This is why enterprises NEED multi-tenant CMS solutions.

Multi-tenant CMS vs. multi-site CMS

Before choosing a CMS, an important distinction must be understood: the difference between a CMS that has the capability of handling a multi-tenant environment, as opposed to a system that can manage multiple sites.

A multi-site CMS handles each site individually, without necessarily giving each site access to a centralized software or database. This silos teams, and removes multi-tenant benefits such as content repurposing and organization-wide updates, as each site will need to have its own set of resources, files, and content. The multi-tenant system on the other hand, allows all sites to draw from a central content repository, simplifying site and content management and streamlining international growth.

Why look for a CMS that has both multi-site and multi-tenant built-in?

While your choice of multi-tenant vs. multi-site can depend on your business goals and requirements, a system that has both capabilities has some powerful advantages. For projects that require multiple databases or differing infrastructures, a multi-site CMS can be highly useful. For companies that rely on only a single database to deliver their content across multiple platforms, the multi-tenant CMS can still be effective. The platform that supports both types of delivery can be highly flexible and adaptable to your needs.

dotCMS has both multi-tenant and multi-site capabilities

For brands wanting to achieve a global presence, or are already serving many international markets, a multi-tenant CMS can prove to be key to your international growth. Below, we’ve highlighted how a multi-tenant CMS like dotCMS simplifies the process of launching new websites, single page applications, and other web properties.

1. Lower Total Cost of Ownership, More Time Saved

Since multi-tenant CMS solutions share its resources, content, files, databases and folders, your investment will dramatically reduce over time, as you increase the number of tenants (or sites) on the platform. Following the principles of economies of scale, each time you add a new tenant, you are incurring no additional cost.

And because your sites are using the same set of resources, content creators will no longer have to produce content separately for each instance. Instead, they have gained the ability to make content once, and reuse it multiple times. As for updating the content, they would only need to make the necessary amendments via the central repository and it will automatically update all the instances that are utilizing that particular content.

One of our clients at dotCMS, TELUS, experienced these benefits when they switch from their aging content portal (serving over 400 retail stores) over to dotCMS' multi-tenant CMS offering. They saw the speed of their daily content editing reduce from 10 mins down to 30 seconds, saving both time and money.

2. Greater Efficiency During Growth

With resources and other technological elements shared with the multiple instances in a multi-tenant architecture, developers have a much easier time assessing and optimizing the performance of the entire system as well as updating the central technology stack if and when needed.

dotCMS Cloud provides your enterprise with the capability of deploying websites, intranets, extranets, portals and apps in a secure, scalable and fully-customizable manner without heavy reliance on the IT team. Thus achieving faster time-to-market and reducing total cost of ownership.

3. Easily create localized sites for customer segments

International brands, as mentioned, serve many different markets with each having their own needs and requirements. But for enterprises to deliver more effective campaigns to increase engagement, generate new leads and improve conversions, enterprises have to segment their target market.  

A multi-tenant CMS makes it easier to create landing pages, microsites, blogs and brand websites for specific segments. The localization and multi-language capabilities of dotCMS further enhance the local customer experience. 

4. Easier To Maintain, Update, and Upgrade

The maintenance process of a multi-tenant CMS is extremely cost-effective since all the tenants share code and databases from the same pool. Developers no longer need to go into each instance to run maintenance or install any upgrades or updates, everything is done in one centralized location.

And since developers are not spending most of their time on looking after every single instance, they have more time to focus on more pressing matters and develop innovative applications which could give your enterprise a competitive advantage. This makes developers happy and much more efficient. And because dotCMS is a frontend framework-agnostic CMS, developers can pick and choose their favorite development tools to create their frontend applications and integrate it with the dotCMS platform via its API-first environment.

5. A Multi-Tenant CMS is Built to Scale

As all your instances are sharing the same core codebase, a multi-tenant CMS enables you to quickly scale your instances by developing on top of the shared code, making it ideal for enterprise companies and organizations.

Unlike a single-tenant CMS solution that required developers to create everything from scratch, with a multi-tenant architecture there is no need to increase the number of data centers or your hosting capacity to accommodate for each tenant. dotCMS’ architecture is composed of multiple microservices which can be scaled independently and horizontally.

The key to growing your brand presence

Whether your brand already operates in many locations or you plan to grow in the near future, building with a multi-tenant solution like dotCMS can help you achieve your goals. With a lower total cost of ownership, scalability and easy maintenance, brands are finding that multi-tenant CMSs are the best path for growth.

Image Credit: Photo by Kelsey Knight on Unsplash
Victoria Burt
Director of Product Marketing
October 27, 2022

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