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What Is a Multi-Tenant CMS?

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Amanda Tevis

For global organizations, having proper infrastructure is critical to fueling international growth, expanding into new markets, and managing large multinational teams. When we sprinkle remotely distributed teams into the mix, it can be challenging for large companies to manage everything well without the right tools. 

When it comes to content management, these enterprises and high-growth startups need technology capable of managing localization as well as multilanguage campaigns and sites without incurring the high costs of deploying each site or campaign on a different platform. 

If you use WordPress for your website, this isn’t possible as the platform is hardcoded as a single site CMS. As a result, you’ll need to add another CMS instance (or use its multisite add-on) to manage multiple sites. 

Luckily, that’s where multitenancy and a multi-tenant CMS enters the picture. Using this type of architecture, organizations can control the content assets and digital experiences that might have previously been scattered across multiple CMSs and centralize them in one single platform and shared infrastructure. 

In this article, we’ll dive into the concept of a multi-tenant CMS and explain how global companies can benefit from it. We’ll also showcase how you can use a platform like CrafterCMS to manage multiple projects, sites, or apps, and how each can have their own set of users and roles. 

 

What Is a Multi-Tenant CMS?

A multi-tenant CMS provides a single software instance capable of simultaneously serving multiple web projects, sites, and apps. This is extremely important for larger organizations that have multiple use cases for their CMS - corporate website, intranet, customer portal, maybe a mobile app, landing pages, campaign sites, just to mention a few.

A tenant refers to a web project and group of users who share access to that project, running on a single shared CMS platform that is shared with different web/app projects and users. For example, for an enterprise with multiple websites, each website can be considered a tenant. 

Multi-tenancy allows a company to have multiple unique organizations or departments working on the same infrastructure. However, each would have access to different resources, such as unique projects, content, groups, and permissions. Software applications that rely on multitenancy are designed to be shared instances rather than running as separate or isolated. 

Using a multi-tenant CMS, a large brand with offices around the globe can support all of its websites and teams without needing an additional instance, thus allowing teams to share the same infrastructure that runs all their sites and apps.

A multi-tenant CMS can also be useful for multinational corporations, for example, a global hospitality company like Marriott with thirty different brands and thousands of hotel properties across the globe. Rather than setting up a new CMS instance for each brand, multiple brands can be managed using one CMS instance. 

Each tenant can then customize their end user experience, content, branding, workflows, access controls, CMS users, and more to operate independently yet still capitalize on the ability to share resources. 

 

Benefits of a Multi-Tenant CMS

Multi-tenant CMS platforms are ideal for global businesses as they provide several benefits: 

Faster Updates

Performing upgrades and software updates on a multi-tenant CMS is far easier than on a single tenant platform. Since tenants share underlying backend code and infrastructure, developers don’t need to upgrade or run maintenance on each instance individually. Instead, everything can be upgraded from a single system.

Increased Scalability

All instances in a multi-tenant CMS share the same backed codebase. As a result, you can easily scale by simply expanding the underlying infrastructure running that shared code. Each tenant uses the same common infrastructure, meaning IT operations can increase hosting capacity that accommodates all tenants, nor do DevOps need to spin up multiple CMSs for different sites, making it much easier to scale. 

Cost Effectiveness

With shared infrastructure, a multi-tenant CMS is more cost-effective as adding a new tenant doesn’t incur additional costs. Starting a new web project is generally a click of a button, not deployment of another instance of the CMS software.

Easier User and Project Onboarding

A multi-tenant CMS enables global businesses to cater to multiple markets. While each market will have its own requirements, enterprises can quickly create custom landing pages, brand websites, and more for different customer segments. It also allows an organization to define roles for only specific areas, such as giving access to a third-party agency.

Centralization of Content in Single System

Different tenants using a multi-tenant CMS don’t have to create content each time they have a new campaign. Content can be created once and distributed across sites, saving time and improving reusability. Also, updates to shared content can be automatically made available across all projects.  

No Vendor and Technology Fragmentation

Without a multi-tenant CMS, each tenant within an organization would need to select their own technologies or software vendors to perform different tasks. A multi-tenant CMS helps businesses to avoid this issue, lowering the total cost of ownership. 

 

Features to Consider in a Multi-Tenant CMS

Enterprise brands considering a multi-tenant CMS may come across several options. However, there are some key features that any CMS you choose should include. 

Headless Architecture

In the current digital ecosystem, content doesn’t only need to be published to one channel. While a multi-tenant CMS is perfect for managing multiple websites and apps, today’s customer journey is omnichannel and spans numerous devices. Headless architecture should therefore be a key feature in any multi-tenant CMS to provide that omnichannel content delivery for any and all projects. 

Server-Side Rendering

Headless CMS platforms by default offer client-side rendering, so once you have headless architecture, you can count on that. But sometimes, you need to develop on the server. A multi-tenant CMS that offers server-side rendering as well gives developers more options such as building HTML5 sites via Freemarker or using Nextjs, Nuxtjs, and Groovy for different use cases. 

Marketer-Friendliness

Enterprises selecting a multi-tenant CMS should also look out for marketer-friendliness. While headless architecture is essential, many headless CMS platforms often neglect the content authoring experience, the ones meant to create and edit content. Visual editing, in-context preview, drag/drop, and an easy-to-use interface must be included to give the best content authoring experience. This allows content authors to create new content and edit as necessary without having to beg for developer assistance. 

Role-based Permissions

When working with multiple sites, having role-based permissions for authors is essential to keeping everything organized and allowing content authors to remain focused. With permissions in a multi-tenant CMS, each group can have different roles for different tenants. Someone might be an editor on one project but only a reviewer on another. Establishing permissions in this way makes it easier to develop workflows and avoid clutter. 


CrafterCMS: A Headless CMS For Multiple Sites and Apps

Large enterprises and multinational corporations need a headless CMS specifically built for enterprises that can support that growth and allow them to scale as necessary. 

CrafterCMS offers a headless CMS and multi-tenant architecture built for global brands. With headless capabilities, brands can create content once and publish it to multiple channels. Also, content teams in different locations can easily reuse content across branches and tenants without having to create content from scratch every time. Developers can leverage these headless capabilities to create engaging frontend experiences using the JavaScript frameworks, HTML templating frameworks, or any other frontend technologies they want.

CrafterCMS also makes it easy for marketers and content authors to create, edit and manage content on any channel with drag and drop tooling and in-context previews. This allows them to deliver personalized campaigns to meet the varied needs of global audiences. 

For managing multiple tenants, enterprises can create any number of projects, sites and apps operating all on the same underlying infrastructure and assign certain sites to different groups, restricting user access to only the specific sites in their region or department so that everyone can remain focused. 

Marriott International uses CrafterCMS to manage content for a variety of use cases - their corporate website, global intranet, AR/VR experiences, digital signage, live OTT video streaming, and more. From streaming enterprise video to employees around the world to composing brand-specific experiences to deliver an engaging experience for customers, employees and associates, CrafterCMS’s multi-tenant capabilities are crucial for accomplishing everything and delivering the best content-enabled experiences possible. 

Read more about CrafterCMS in our Case Studies: Marriott Streaming Enterprise Video in the Hybrid Cloud and Taking Hospitality to New Levels with CrafterCMS. 

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