Multi-customer, multi-tenancy considerations

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Multi-tenancy in cloud service models implies a need for policy-driven enforcement, segmentation, isolation, governance, service levels and chargeback billing models for various consumer constituencies. Consumers might use a public cloud provider’s service offerings or actually might be from the same organization, such as separate business units rather than distinct organizational entities, but still share infrastructure. This feature of cloud computing becomes critical to help eliminate the concern of using shared infrastructures between competing organizations or customers with sensitive data. All customers want to ensure that, although from a physical perspective, they are sharing the same infrastructure, from a logical perspective they are isolated without risk to their workloads.

From a provider’s perspective, multi-tenancy suggests an architectural and design approach to enable economies of scale, availability, management, segmentation, isolation and operational efficiency; using shared infrastructure, data, metadata, services and applications across many separate consumers. Multi-tenancy can also take on other definitions depending upon the cloud service model of the provider, because it might involve enabling the capabilities described above at the infrastructure, database, or application levels. An example is the difference between an infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and software as a service (SaaS) multi-tenant implementation. Cloud deployment models place different importance on multi-tenancy. However, even in the case of a private cloud, a single organization may have a multitude of third-party consultants and contractors and want a high degree of logical separation between business units. Thus, multi-tenancy concerns must always be considered when looking at cloud solutions.

In IBM® SmartCloud Enterprise, many of these issues are addressed by allowing customers to have a segmented VPN or private VLAN to segment their workload. This way ensures that their work is completely isolated from the work of other customers working in the IBM SmartCloud Enterprise. This approach is also addressed by IBM Cloud Service Provider Platform (CSP2) offering, which allows service providers to build robust public cloud environments that have the characteristics of multi-tenancy.

For organizations to feel comfortable about running their workloads in the cloud with other competitors and or sensitive data, cloud providers must address the idea of multi-tenancy. IBM addresses this concern by ensuring that customers can isolate their workloads with a VPN solution or isolated VLAN solution. In addition, IBM gives service provides the ability to build multi-tenancy enabled cloud solutions with the CSP2 solution. This solution provides the market place with both the ability to consume and build robust cloud solutions that address the challenge of multi-tenancy.

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