CDD’s software architecture advantage, part II

Cloud vs. “Fake Cloud” – The Single Tenant vs. Multi-Tenant Architecture Debate in Drug Discovery

From the desk of Sylvia Ernst, Sr. Director, Community Growth

multi-colored building

Part II – Updates, software releases, maintenance, customization vs. configuration, Collaboration.

  • Updates, new releases, maintenance: Software evolves rapidly.  We all get updates and upgrades of operating systems, bug fixes, security patches, new security software, new features at an ever faster pace.  This is a big plus for customers of a multitenant application because all of the updates, latest security features, and new functionalities can be implemented quickly without interfering with each client’s implementation.This is inherently a bigger headache for single tenant implementations because each tenant often will have customized their implementation (in the database layer).  And as you can easily intuit, once you have a couple hundred customers this becomes very hard to maintain for the vendor – in which case, from a cost perspective, it is almost similar to having your own custom in-house solution (i.e. that gets passed along as an extra cost to you the customer).
  • Customization vs. Configuration:  Proponents of the single tenant environment argue that the customer can customize their system much more and adjust to their personalized needs because the customer can typically have deeper access to the software, underlying database schema etc.While this is true, this too makes it “less cloud” – and hence Marc Benioff labeling it “fake cloud”.  That concept defies some of the core benefits of the cloud:Ease of access, speedy rollout (login and go), ability to use the system without IT expertise or dedicated staff from anywhere, economicalAlso, each one of those ‘customizations’ needs to be tested and secured every time the software changes. It usually has a multiplicative effect on bugs and security issues.The customization argument also is a bit of an illusion rooted from the old days and old ways when software was static to the user and writing code was needed to change things. Today modern web programming creates very dynamic and customizable user environments.Therefore many SaaS multitenant applications allow their users many options to configure the application to adapt to their workflows and data relationship needs.The CDD Vault, for example, can be configured to work with pretty much any type of drug discovery data and to accommodate any workflow – while still allowing Vault administrators the ability to enforce business rules among a group of users to keep the data clean and organized.  One can easily configure the CDD Vault to work with information as diverse as assay data, ADME/Tox data, analytical data, ADCs (Antibody Conjugates), compound management workflows and more.
  • Collaboration:  The multitenancy concept enables easy, fast and economical collaboration. Collaborations are driven by economics which means that parts or all of a drug discovery project have been given to 3rdparties (screening assays, synthesizing compounds, etc.).Multitenancy makes it easy for the software vendor and customer to provide features which allow users to selectively share or partition data and work together securely.  Setting permissions and data flows between single tenant entities typically requires IT support and database expertise for movement/import/export of data, plus licenses to the underlying database (often Oracle).With the CDD Vault Users can share some data (e.g., bioassays) while masking other data (e.g., structures) – or vice versa, with refined control all the way down to individual experiments and data points. Which all is achieved in the application itself and hence under the user’s control.

To get the whole article, part I-III as convenient pdf document please click  the download button below.

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Part I and III introduce to the debate and discuss the architectural impact on: Economics, Security,  and what we at CDD learned since 2004.