Medical professionals considering cloud EHRs or practice management systems for their clinics, often hear all sorts of arguments from enterprise software vendors against cloud computing. Among the most common are the criticisms levelled against multi-tenancy, an important feature of the cloud that enables tremendous cost savings for users.
Multitenancy is the name given to describe many customers using the same cloud platform. Multiple tenants share the same application, running on the same hardware and operating system but each tenant’s data and configuration files are kept separate. Individual clients see and work with a customized instance of the application.
It offers numerous benefits to practices using cloud platforms:
1. Cost savings
Multi-tenancy allows for significant cost savings since the processing overhead is shared among many users. The vendor can develop the software once and deploy it for multiple customers instead of starting from scratch for each one.
2. Updates and release management
In traditional enterprise software, code and database changes have to be applied on client hardware or multiple servers for every new release or update. SaaS providers with multi-tenant architecture need to apply the update on only a single server.
The simpler update process allows providers to deliver innovative features faster since they don’t have to deal with a long drawn out schedule for each new release. Additional functionality can be included at frequent intervals without any downtime for customers.
Cloud cynics generally claim that since many companies have to share limited IT resources with other subscribers, processing demands will pile up causing performance to suffer. Vendors may also cite security and privacy concerns regarding user data residing on the same hardware. So, should you be worried about multi-tenancy causing problems for your practice?
In short, the answer is no. There are different approaches that cloud service vendors can take to scaling and tenant management, but most use distributed servers and virtualization to handle the workload. They can provide as many additional servers as necessary to fulfill the demands of all their customers. As for security and privacy concerns, multi-tenant systems are designed from the ground up to keep clients’ data and application configuration files separate from each other as well as from the system code. No client will be able to see or access another customer’s data.
As you can see, far from being an obstacle, multi-tenancy is an important feature of the SaaS model that allows your practice to experience all the benefits of cloud computing.