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This content is part of the Essential Guide: How best to secure cloud computing in this critical era
Definition

multi-tenant cloud

Contributor(s): Laura FItzgibbons

A multi-tenant cloud is a cloud computing architecture that allows customers to share computing resources in a public or private cloud. Each tenant's data is isolated and remains invisible to other tenants.

In a multi-tenant cloud system, users have individualized space for storing their projects and data. Each section of a cloud network with multi-tenant architecture includes complex permissions with the intention of allowing each user access to only their stored information along with security from other cloud tenants. Within the cloud infrastructure, each tenant's data is inaccessible to all other tenants, and can only be reached with the cloud provider's permissions.

In a private cloud, the customers, or tenants, may be different individuals or groups within a single company, while in a public cloud, entirely different organizations may safely share their server space. Most public cloud providers use the multi-tenancy model. It allows them to run servers with single instances, which is less expensive and helps to streamline updates.

Multi-tenant cloud vs single-tenant cloud

In a single-tenant cloud, only one customer is hosted on a server and is granted access to it. Due to multi-tenancy architectures hosting multiples customers on the same servers, it is important to fully understand the security and performance the provider is offering. Single-tenant clouds give customers more control over the management of data, storage, security and performance.

Multi-tenant vs. single-tenant

Benefits of multi-tenant cloud

Multi-tenant cloud networks provide increased storage and improved access compared to single-tenancy clouds that include limited access and security parameters. Multi-tenancy in cloud computing makes a greater pool of resources available to a larger group of people without sacrificing privacy and security or slowing down applications. The virtualization of storage locations in cloud computing allows for flexibility and ease of access from almost any device or location.

Example of multi-tenancy

Multi-tenant clouds can be compared to the structure of an apartment building. Each resident has access to their own apartment within the agreement of the entire building and only authorized individuals can enter the specific units. However, the entire building shares resources such as water, electricity and common areas.

This is similar to a multi-tenant cloud in that the provider sets overarching quotas, rules and performance expectations for customers but each individual customer has private access to their information.

This was last updated in May 2019

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Has your organization turned toward cloud multi-tenancy and how has your experience been so far?
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Most Cloud Providers do a good job of hiding the data another tenant might have stored on a cloud system that you aren't using.  This is by design.  However, the fact that this happens on shared multi-tenant clouds should not be construed as a guarantee of security.

I would review the security profile of any multi-tenant cloud I planned to use, before putting my companies data, potentially at risk for a higher level 'cloud' breach.
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Veretax! Thank you for your comment.
I'm trying to learn more about the subject.
We've seen some breaches recently such as the Equifax case...but there is always a risk correct?
I mean, AWS, Amazon's largest revenue portion comes from their infrastructure services. Their are selling multitenant cloud and yet, we could argue it is somewhat secure to have data stored there?
I'd love to understand why not leave your data with Amazon or Microsoft Azure?
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