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The Power of Multi-Tenant CMS: Manage Multiple Websites from a Single Platform

Victoria Burt

In today’s world, managing multiple websites efficiently and at scale is no small feat.  Whether you’re a business with multiple brands or product lines, a franchise that oversees several locations, or a web development agency handling many clients, there are challenges that come with managing multiple sites. 

Not only do you need to develop multiple websites to cater to the needs of different markets, but you might also need to localize content in multiple languages or present content in a format common to consumer behaviors in that region while also maintaining brand consistency. Many companies are using single-tenant CMS solutions or those not specifically designed for enterprises that have hundreds, if not thousands, of websites

Traditional CMS solutions generally cater to building individual websites, overlooking the challenge that many businesses face when they have several to thousands of brands, product lines, franchises, or locations that need to be centrally managed. This scale of content management 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” or, more simply, sites. Since it allows you to host multiple sites on a single instance, it allows for sharing content, resources, and files. This means that brands can scale with additional websites and applications – whether these sites share the same brand resources or completely separate. The infrastructure of a multi-tenant is specifically optimized to scale with thousands of sites and heavy resource usage.

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Use Cases

Franchise Model: Central management + central template 

In the franchise model, a business could have multiple locations and need a consistent online presence while maintaining localized content. With a multi-tenant CMS, each franchisee or location can have its own website with unique content and languages, but it’s managed from a standard template to ensure consistent branding across the franchise. Permissions can be configured so that each location has control over certain content changes, but the franchise marketing team controls the overall look and feel and core content. 

Multi-Brand Model: Central management + different templates 

In the multi-brand model, a business would have separate sites for each of their brands or subsidiaries, all with their own unique template and look and feel, while still managed under the instance for simplicity and efficiency. For IT, this can help consolidate multiple tools into one platform and provide granular control over permissions and access.

Benefits of Consolidating on a Multi-Tenant CMS

There are several benefits to consolidating multiple sites onto a multi-tenant model: 

1. Streamlined Website Management
One of the most significant advantages of a Multi-Tenant CMS is the ability to centralize control. With all your websites managed from a single dashboard, you have a birds-eye view of all the sites that you’re responsible for maintaining, and you can simplify the day-to-day management and design.

2. Consistency 
Centralizing control also means that you can maintain brand consistency across multiple sites. Implementing a uniform design across sites but making minor changes to localize content and layouts saves teams a ton of time when they are rolling out new sites or making changes. Creating, editing, and publishing content across sites simultaneously reduces duplication of effort and minimizes the chances of inconsistencies. 

Caliber decreases bounce rate and increases website traffic by replatforming multiple sites to dotCMS

Caliber, a multi-service automotive company, hosts their website on dotCMS to offer all its brands and services under one umbrella.

Read their story

3. Reduce Costs 
Managing multiple websites individually or on multiple CMSs often leads to higher platform and hosting costs. A multi-tenant CMS utilizes shared resources and scales up as you grow, so you can host multiple sites on a single instance, significantly reducing software and hosting costs.

Developing and maintaining separate CMS installations for each site can be time-consuming when you have to build on multiple platforms and upgrade and support the infrastructure. On a multi-tenant infrastructure, software updates are rolled out across every tenant. This also means your teams must be trained on multiple platforms, and you’re dealing with several vendors for training and support.

4. Scalability 
As your business or web presence grows, adding new sites becomes easy. There’s no need for complex installations or migrations – you can create a new site within the system and start reusing the existing layouts and templates. 

Key Features to  Look for

  1. Permission Management: A Multi-Tenant CMS must provide robust permission and user management so administrators can decide which users should have control over which sites and who can make changes to content/layouts on sites and pages. 

  2. Templates: Reusable and shareable templates and the ability to copy sites to create a new one will help brands that are growing or deploying new sites easily get up and running within your brand parameters.

  3. Content Reuse: Centralizing content and being able to edit it across channels saves time and administrative burden. 

  4. Multilingual: Built-in translation is important so sites can be localized and translated based on geography. 

  5. Hybrid-Headless: Developers should be able to architect different sites as needed. They should have full control over developing the front-end in their framework of choice, while another site can be delivered traditionally within the CMS’ site-building framework.

  6. Visual Editing: Even if sites are built headlessly, marketing teams should have the ability to manage their pages and layouts in an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop editor

  7. Publishing Across Channels: When rolling out new content across multiple sites, users should be able to select which sites, applications, servers, channels or regions they want that content to be published on.

dotCMS: The Market Leader in Multi-Tenant CMS

dotCMS platform was built with growth and scalability in mind. Since day one, dotCMS has taken the structured content approach to content management, ensuring that content is organized into clear data structures that make it easy to reuse and integrate across channels and devices. This approach has helped organizations maintain consistency and improve the efficiency of their content operations versus traditional CMSs that have rigid structures and are designed for static pages with limited metadata.

The platform’s multi-tenant architecture allows tenants to create new hostnames and aliases for each tenant, just as if each tenant had their own site. The platform also provides independent storage for each tenant, which improves the protection of data and content for each tenant. The tag repository feature lets authors create their own tags or use shared tags to differentiate their data.

The hybrid-headless approach of dotCMS also means that even if a business has multiple sites with vastly different use cases, dotCMS can handle it. If one of your existing sites is built headlessly with its own front-end, and others currently built on a traditional platform that is delivering the front-end, dotCMS can do both without sacrificing the authoring experience for marketing teams. 

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 first can help you get there. With a lower total cost of ownership, scalability, and easy maintenance, brands that have to solve these complex content management challenges are finding a multi-tenant solution the best solution to scale long term.

How Junior Achievement created a centralized system for managing region-specific sites and content

With over 470,000 volunteers across the world serving 10 million students, Junior Achievement needed a robust platform to deliver highly targeted content across devices and countries.

Read their story

Victoria Burt
Director of Product Marketing
March 11, 2024

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