Software-as-a-Service: The foundation of succesful multi-tenancy buildings?

Sharing and collaborative consumption are rapidly growing in popularity. Think about Airbnb (home sharing) or Uber (ride sharing). We expect this trend to reach the world of office buildings in 2016.

We’ll see a rise in so-called “multi-tenant buildings”. We are currently involved in real estate development projects that will allow three or more organizations to occupy the same space and share facility services. Centralized and integrated systems are essential to structure the distribution of these buildings. Just imagine four organizations all implementing their own systems; booking a room would be a nightmare! To efficiently share resources in a building, the systems to manage those resources need to act on the building-level, not on the level of an individual tenant. So to make sure that shared rooms aren’t double booked, you need a software multitenancy that suits the physical multi-tenancy of the building.

That’s where SaaS comes into play. In software terms, multi tenancy is an architecture in which a single instance of a software application serves multiple customers. This architecture is quite common in SaaS services. For example, organizations that use a cloud solution for their email services (such as Office 365 or Gmail) do not have their “own” dedicated server farm running at the SaaS vendor. Instead, server resources are shared amongst tenants whilst a strict separation between the tenants is maintained on the functional and data level.

Although multitenancy in SaaS is an existing and common phenomenon, the rationale for choosing SaaS in multi-tenancy buildings is different. It’s not about increasing efficiency of server resources, adding redundancy, or reducing operational costs of ICT administration. It’s all about manageability and sharing. Imagine four tenants in a building, all with their own ICT systems and facility management software. To allow for (for instance) room sharing, these four tenants would need to somehow interconnect their individual room booking systems. That’s six connections in total, maintained by four different ICT departments. In other words: a nightmare. When instead a dedicated third party platform for resource sharing is used, each of the tenants has their own integration with that platform, that they control and maintain. Adding and removing a tenant does not involve actions from the other tenants, as long as there is a clear set of common rules and standards that a tenant must adhere to in order to join the resource sharing community.

To summarize: when you want to provide services like room sharing at the building level, you will need your software solutions to act at the building level. Further, a clear set of standards is needed for the way that tenants technically communicate with that solution. With Mapiq we aim to cross the boundaries between organizations by offering such a SaaS platform that inherently supports multi-tenancy.

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