Multi-tenant WordPress for Enterprise

WordPress is the most popular CMS publishing platforms on the Internet today. Developers are familiar with it, designers love the simplicity of creating themes, and site editors love the way off content creating in an easy way.

Can WordPress really work in the enterprise?

I say yes it can, you just have to do some planning and work through internal  compliance, security issues, support, not to mention the need to manage many websites with a limited staff.

There are so many things that have to come together to make WordPress a viable solution that is scalable and manageable in an enterprise environment.

WordPress is really easy to setup as a single site, for the enterprise you need to set it up as a Multitenancy. Multitenancy is an architecture in which a single instance of a software application serves multiple customers.

For WordPress, multitenancy means multiple WordPress sites running off a single WordPress codebase. This sounds similar to WordPress Multisite.

WordPress Multisite combines all site resources (themes, plugins, etc) together under a single WordPress install (code and database). Whereas, multitenancy allows for completely individual WordPress sites (own resources and database) sharing a single WordPress codebase.

Any admin of a WordPress Multisite install bears the burden of the Network Admin. Any developer of multiple WordPress sites bears the burden of keeping WordPress updated.

With WordPress multitenancy, the admin has their own site and the developer manages WordPress in a single place. Adopting a multitenant architecture provides additional benefits, aside from management, such as scaling.

Automate the hell out of the multi-tenancy – use puppet to automate your distribution of your code changes when they happen to all your sites in your environment.

Write your own plugins or themes. You may want to have logins integrate with a Single Sign-On system, or share visitor data with a CRM system.  If you have developers in your enterprise, you’ll find that writing WordPress plugins is straight forward. WordPress has a well-documented codex on how to build plugins and there are many resources available to train developers to build WordPress Plugins.

WordPress themes just act like giant plugins, if you want some really integrated functionality in your theme, you can add it to the theme’s functions.php file.

Tier your sites out. Between the load balancer, caching server, web servers, shared storage, and database, there’s no limit to how much you can spread out the potential load of your WordPress sites to reduce the risk of having downtime.  And when you’re deploying WordPress in the enterprise, there’s a good chance you already have most of the tools in your environment to make a multi-tiered system like this work smoothly.

Multitenancy is a solution to an architectural problem.

Don’t be afraid to fail, you will learn from failing and eventually you will have a workable multitenancy site for your enterprise.