Enterprise Multi-Tenant Management: Policy Compliance and Lifecycle Management for M365

Enterprise Multi-Tenant Management: Policy Compliance and Lifecycle Management for M365

By
Josh WIttman
July 5, 2022

If your organization has a lot of users, Microsoft strongly recommends you design a multi-tenant architecture to manage your business’s Office 365 usage.

This isn’t just a cursory recommendation. Apart from keeping your business data manageable, a multi-tenant setup also helps you bypass resource limitations imposed on single tenants and ensure better regulatory compliance if your organization is spread across multiple regions.

That said, Microsoft 365 doesn’t make it particularly easy for a single organization to configure and manage multiple tenants at scale. Multi-tenant configuration management as a feature is completely missing from the picture.

In this article, we’re going to go over the challenges of setting up and maintaining multiple tenants as an enterprise on Microsoft 365. We’re also going to present a solution that’ll change the way you think about multi-tenant management. Keep reading to find out more!

Why Enterprises Should Have a Multi-Tenant Architecture

There are several reasons why large organizations should consider designing a multi-tenant architecture for managing Microsoft 365. Let’s start by going over a few scenarios where a multi-tenant architecture makes the most sense:

  • If your business spans across multiple products or services or you’ve made mergers and acquisitions of other companies
  • If your organization is set up across multiple geographical regions with different local regulations for storing and managing data 
  • If your work requires a degree of separation between departments, perhaps due to clearance issues or other business-critical reasons

Microsoft recommends employing a multi-tenant architecture whenever the number of users in your organization exceeds 1 million. Not only does this keep data manageable, but it also helps with regulatory compliance and ensures a proper quality of service. Here are some common reasons for considering a multi-tenant approach to managing Microsoft 365:

  • Resource Limitations: Microsoft imposes certain resource limitations per tenant for Microsoft Azure and Azure AD. A multi-tenant architecture allows you to bypass these restrictions and quotas.
  • Regulatory Compliance: When your organization is set up across multiple locations, different regions may have different regulations imposed by their local administrations. This is especially true for multi-national companies dealing with vast amounts of customer data.
  • Ethical Barriers: Sometimes, organizations have to construct virtual barriers between departments to restrict the flow of information that could result in conflicts of interest. A multi-tenant setup helps create a degree of separation so that department administrators don’t have access to data from other departments.
  • Data Management: A multi-tenant architecture ensures that certain Microsoft services, such as the people picker, continue to function optimally for organizations with a large number of user accounts. It also keeps data manageable, searchable, and easy to navigate. 

Challenges With Multi-Tenant Management in Microsoft 365

Microsoft has added quite a few quality-of-life features to make multi-tenant configurations more viable for enterprises. Things like tenant-to-tenant collaboration and mailbox migration are welcome additions that make having multiple tenants a little easier for organizations.

But if there’s one thing completely missing from Microsoft’s multi-tenant approach, it’s the ability to manage all your tenant configurations from a single pane of glass with a source of truth that lets you keep track of any changes made to your environments.

Let’s say for example that you’d like to have two separate environments for testing and production with Microsoft 365. This is common practice in software development so that any developmental testing you conduct doesn’t interfere with the experience of the end user.

So, you’d like to create a test tenant for experimenting with new configurations and then deploy those configurations into your production tenant when the time comes. Sadly, Microsoft doesn’t have the tools required to help you conduct this operation. 

You can set up a test environment, but you cannot clone that environment into production without manually copying the entire configuration by hand from one tenant to another. There are no one click options to migrate configuration settings from one tenant to another.

There are thousands of options for you to configure across hundreds of different screens, so manually copying them from one tenant to another is neither practical nor secure, because a single error can introduce vulnerabilities in the system that causes your tenants to get hacked.

That’s the problem with having multiple tenants in Microsoft 365. Many enterprises try to get around this by using PowerShell scripts to automate configuration changes, but those are a pain to set up and not very reliable to begin with.

And that’s not all. Microsoft 365 doesn’t keep track of changes to your tenant configurations, meaning that you have no way to troubleshoot your system in the event of a tenant malfunction. All you can do is try to solve the problem through trial and error, which can take months. 

There’s also no centralized documentation, audit trails, or backups to fall back on with Microsoft 365. If you were hoping to keep a detailed record of your configuration changes for compliance purposes, you can forget about it now.

A Different Take on Multi-Tenant Management With Simeon Cloud

Of course, none of this should actually dissuade you from using Microsoft 365. It’s still the best productivity suite for businesses thanks to a range of products under the umbrellas of Office 365, Azure, and Intune.

It also just doesn’t make sense to expend a huge security budget on developing a software stack for configuration management, when you’re already paying hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for Microsoft 365.

The need of the hour is a dedicated solution that takes care of backups, security, documentation, and multi-tenant configuration management using a single pane of glass for Microsoft 365. Until now, such a tool didn’t exist.

Simeon aims to change that. A configuration-as-code solution that automates the entire process of setting up and maintaining Microsoft 365, we offer everything you’ll need to manage multiple tenants at scale for your enterprise. 

Imagine being able to manage your configuration across multiple tenants with features like baseline configurations, one-click deployment, tenant-to-tenant migration, backup and restore, as well as detailed documentation for all of Microsoft 365. 

Sound interesting? Request a demo to know more about how Simeon Cloud can help your enterprise set up and manage Microsoft 365.