2.8.1. Tenants

Tenants are groupings in the business organisation that need freedom and autonomy to define and manage their own sites, channels and data, while at the same time desire or require the ability to share with other tenants. For example, this could be multiple departments in an organisation with separate websites, but a willingness to collectively define and share the features available on these sites in order to reduce the cost of development and maintenance.

Multi-tenancy in Sitecore is primarily about creating a governance model and technical architecture that support different requirements and decision models.

Helix suits this scenario perfectly, as it defines a common feature and foundation layer in the implementation, but allows multiple project layer modules – one per tenant – that bring these features together. Tenants can even define and implement new business specific features, new modules, which are only used in their project layer module – and thereby the architecture allows one tenant to adapt its solutions or to change its business objectives without disrupting other tenants.

Note that although many Sitecore implementations have multiple sites, most are single tenant, where a single organisational entity can make decisions on the business direction of the overall implementation.

In any multi-tenancy scenario, it is very important to completely understand and highlight the restrictions in autonomy, as well as the benefits of the shared implementation, and subsequently define the governance model for these overlaps between tenants. Although critical for the success of the implementation, this is largely an organisational task that lies outside the realm of the technology.

In a scenario where one implementation hosts two or more tenants with no common content or desired sharing of features – in other words completely autonomous tenants – it is highly recommended to split into multiple implementations, with separate governance models.

2.8.1.1. Defining a tenant in Helix

Although Sitecore offers a great platform to support multi-tenancy in the software, there is no predefined tenant context in Sitecore. This means that the borders between what is shared between tenants and what can be defined autonomously is largely for you and the business to define. This includes content hierarchies, content repositories, media, workflows and more.

It is recommended that each tenant in a Helix compliant implementation has its own project layer module, i.e. that each tenant has the freedom to define its own set of datasource and page type templates (see Template types) as well as its own overall page layouts and sub layouts. If multiple tenants share templates or layouts, it is recommended to have a shared project layer module to host these entities. This gives the flexibility for a tenant to use shared as well as specific page types and layouts in their site or sites.

Habitat Example

In Habitat the Project/Common module contains primarily Datasource templates and placeholder settings that can be used across multiple tenants, i.e. project layer modules.

Content sharing or isolation between tenants comes largely down to content hierarchy and security. By defining organisational roles, users can belong to different tenants and content can be shared or separated. Because of the powerful, feature-rich and fine grained security model in Sitecore, pretty much any business requirements can be met. See more on security in Helix in Security and workflows.

It is often not relevant for business logic to understand the tenant context under which the business logic is running. Tenant related locations such as datasource locations, datasource templates etc. can be configured in Sitecore and there is often no use for an actual tenant context API. If this is needed, it is recommended to create it.

Habitat Example

The Habitat example site defines one project layer module – effectively one tenant. Although the current implementation only defines a single site under the tenant - which lives under /sitecore/content/Habitat - all features support a multi-site scenario. In Habitat, the tenant or site is defined to have its own shared content repositories for features such as teasers, dictionary, FAQ’s etc. – which means this content could be shared across sites but not necessarily across to other tenants.

The Habitat tenant defines isolated tenant specific data for the following areas:

  • Page Type and Datasource Templates
  • Page Layouts and Sub-layouts
  • Personas and profiling
  • Goals and outcomes
  • Campaigns and engagement plans
  • Social network accounts
  • Forms
  • Security domain

Please note that some 3rd party modules and features in Sitecore do not fully support multi-tenancy or multi-site, and thus are limited in ways they can be isolated across tenants or sites. An example is that, by default, the Sitecore Analytics only allows analytics to be broken down by site and thus not by tenant. Please refer to the product documentation for the modules you are interested in using in your implementation.