Saturday, November 15, 2014

Who actually uses the Dynamics GP Multi-Tenant feature?

By Steve Endow

When Microsoft announced that Dynamics GP 2013 would include Multi-Tenant support, there was some buzz.  The ability to have multiple separate Dynamics GP installs on the same SQL Server instance seemed like an obviously beneficial feature, and during presentations at Tech Airlift, it was explained that the functionality was largely designed for partners looking to host Dynamics GP.

But even for GP partners who needed multiple demo environments, or consultants who needed different GP configurations on a laptop, multi-instance would seem to have some benefits, right?

Since then, I've spoken with some customers, partners, and a few GP hosting providers, and I haven't found any that use the multi-tenant feature.

Quite a while ago, I had a call with a large Dynamics hosting provider, and when I asked if they used the GP multi-tenant feature, I thought I heard a scoff as a "No" response came back immediately.  When I asked why, I was told that having a separate SQL Server instance per customer was easier for them to manage, and that the multi-tenant feature would add more complexity than benefit.  Admittedly, I'm not an expert on GP hosting, but I was surprised that the feature that was supposedly designed for GP hosting partners was completely dismissed by an actual hosting partner.

During the reIMAGINE 2014 conference last week, I attended several sessions on the new GP 2015 Service Based Architecture (SBA) functionality.  In a few of the sessions, the speaker, from Microsoft, discussed several design elements and features of SBA that existed to accommodate multi-tenancy.  One statement was along the lines of, "We did this at the request of some of our large hosting providers."  So apparently someone is using multi-tenancy?

After one of the presentations, I visited a vendor table for one of the GP hosting providers.  I asked them if they used the GP multi-tenant feature.  After double checking with an engineer at their office, the salesperson confirmed that they did not use multi-tenancy--they use a separate SQL instance for each customer.  Hmmm.

After the conference was over, I was in the palatial lobby of the Holiday Inn Fargo, and I happened to chat with someone who worked with a different Dynamics hosting provider.  You can guess what my first question was.  Once again, I was told that they also do not use the GP multi-tenant feature.  When I asked why, the explanation I received was that they regularly have partners request 'sa' access to the SQL Server (because GP often requires SQL access to fix issues, they explained), so it is easier to have a separate SQL instance to accommodate the SQL access request.

However, the person told me that they did offer GP hosting in Azure, where they do utilize the GP multi-tenant feature, but that hosting package is more limited than their internally hosted GP solution, and presumably they do not offer 'sa' or direct SQL access to the Azure customers.  Not sure how they fix GP SQL issues on Azure.

Last, during a lunch discussion at the conference, I asked a few partners if they have ever used or implemented GP multi-tenant.  One person said that they had used the feature for a customer that had two instances of GP, for two different legal entities.  The person said that it turned out to be a mistake, as they have had numerous technical issues with the multi-tenant install and will never use it again.

So I guess I'm surprised and puzzled.  GP multi-tenancy was a pretty big deal when it was announced, but if 3 large Dynamics hosting partners don't want to use it, who are these "large hosting providers" that Microsoft is working with as they invest in architecting new features to support the functionality?

Do you know of any Dynamics hosting providers who use the feature?  If so, who are they?  I'd love to chat with them.

If you are a hosting provider or partner that has chosen not to use the multi-tenant feature, why not?  What limitations or issues are causing you to avoid it?


Steve Endow is a Microsoft MVP for Dynamics GP and a Dynamics GP Certified IT Professional in Los Angeles.  He is the owner of Precipio Services, which provides Dynamics GP integrations, customizations, and automation solutions.

You can also find him on Google+ and Twitter



1 comment:

Darren Woodbrey said...

Steve, We have just started a hosting business and are utilizing Azure & multi-tenancy for our platform. Admittedly, we only have 3 customers currently, but have 2 more signed on for next month. We have had trouble with some ISVs not being compatible with named System databases. If you would like to chat, please let me know.

Darren Woodbrey
Technical Director
Tidestone Solutions
dwoodbrey@tidestonesolutions.com