EHS SaaS Multitenancy explained and why it matters.

There is a considerable degree of (intended) confusion in the EHS software space when it comes to cloud computing and multitenancy. If your software vendor cannot share statistics in real time like shown in the figure nearby, most likely they do not run on a multitenant SaaS platform.

The real-time information on system performance and security of SaaS cloud platform is the most important element that frequently gets overlooked during EHS software selection process. Success in the cloud is built on trust.  Trust starts with transparency.
Our real time status monitoring (ran by an independent provider of web monitoring services) provide transparency around service availability and performance for Locus’ EHS SaaS products.
Just as with airlines that fly through clouds, our entire business is built on trust and security of our cloud offerings. Over 700,000 locations around the globe trust Locus to safeguard their data in the cloud.

Cloud Computing
Since the turn of the millennium, cloud computing has revolutionized the landscape of the computing world because it provides enterprise-grade computing resources that are affordable and instantly available. Clouds provide straightforward access to IT resources—you just access as many resources as you need when you need them, and never have to deal with the complexities of managing all of the underlying infrastructures that provide those resources. EHS manager job is suddenly a lot simpler and easier with cloud computing. You don’t even need help from IT department (if you don’t want it).


Multitenancy is the fundamental technology that clouds use to share computing resources cost-efficiently and securely. Just like a bank—in which many tenants cost-efficiently share a hidden, common infrastructure, yet utilize a defined set of highly secure services, with complete privacy from other tenants—a cloud uses multitenancy technology to share IT resources securely among multiple applications and tenants (businesses, organizations, etc.) that use the cloud. Some clouds use virtualization-based architectures to isolate tenants; others use custom software architectures to get the job done. The multitenant design of a cloud service can have a dramatic impact on the application delivery and productivity of an IT organization, yet most CIOs, CTOs, system architects, and developers who use clouds don’t give it a second thought because it’s all magic that transparently happens behind the scenes.

Locus Platform is the proven cloud application development platform that powers popular Locus cloud EHS and Sustainability applications as well as custom applications that customers build to satisfy their specific EHS+S requirements.

There is a considerable degree of (intended) confusion in the EHS software space when it comes to multi-tenancy.  Companies that are considering Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) hear all sorts of things from EHS software vendors hoping to tap into the momentum of cloud computing.  Among the most common is that multi-tenancy is a “techie” thing that doesn’t need to be part of the conversation.  Many go as far as saying “sure, we can do multi-tenant, single-tenant, whatever you need!”— anything to win the job.

Unfortunately, those vendors simply do not understand what they are talking about.  Multi-tenancy is a major shift in computing and requires all new approach to software architecture and delivery model.  It is transformational, and customers who intend to buy the next generation of EHS software should spend the time to understand differences.

Multi-tenancy is the core foundation of modern SaaS and shouldn’t be taken lightly, generalized, or massaged into something that suits a vendor’s self-serving interpretation of SaaS.  Having experienced first-hand the true benefits of multi-tenant SaaS, I can’t conceptualize how SaaS would have delivered those benefits if it wasn’t multi-tenant.  Can anyone imagine companies like Salesforce, NetSuite, Google, or Amazon offering a “single-tenant” solution side by side to their multi-tenant clouds?  I will go as far as say that any company offering a single-tenant solution cannot be a serious contender in offering multi-tenant SaaS.

I would also add that single-tenant (hybrid) cloud applications are worse than on-premise installment.  Why?  Because they are fake clouds.  In these instances, a customer is, in fact, outsourcing maintenance of their application to a vendor that is not equipped for that maintenance.  No single vendor in the EHS software industry is large enough to undertake maintenance of the single-tenant infrastructure on behalf of their customers, regardless how inexpensive hardware may be.

There are many ways to take the functions of on-premise installed software model of the 1980s and package them as services.  Some of these service delivery modes– such as ASP, single-tenant hosting, and hybrid clouds– merely relocate and reassign long-standing problems and potentially make them worse.  In a single-tenant model, user customizations may infiltrate throughout the stack, in a way that makes it difficult to upgrade the performance of the stack.  The true SaaS models confront and mitigate– or even eliminate– some of the most vexing elements of software installation and maintenance: configurability on the fly, software maintenance, and upgrades.  It is “a tyranny of software upgrades” that kills the single-tenant model.

Let me offer a simple analogy to drive home the point as to why multi-tenancy matters: Tesla vs. Edison– War of Currents.

The War of Currents was a series of events surrounding the introduction of competing electric power transmission systems in the late 1880s and early 1890s that pitted companies against one another and involved a debate over cost and convenience of electricity generation and distribution systems, electrical safety, and a media/propaganda campaign, with the main players being the direct current (DC) based on the Thomas Edison Electric Light Company and the supporters of alternating current (AC) based on Nikola Tesla’s inventions backed by Westinghouse.

With electricity supplies in their infancy, much depended on choosing the right technology to power homes and businesses across the country.  The Edison-led group argued for DC current that required a power generating station every few city blocks (single-tenant model), whereas the AC group advocated for a centralized generation with transmission lines that could move electricity great distances with minimal loss (multi-tenant model).

The lower cost of AC power distribution and fewer generating stations eventually prevailed.  Multi-tenancy is equivalent of AC when it comes to cost, convenience, and network effect.  You can read more about how this analogy relates to SaaS in the book by Nicholas Carr, “Big Switch,” a Wall Street Journal bestseller. It’s “the best read so far about the significance of the shift to cloud computing,” said Financial Times.  The EHS software industry has been a laggard in adopting multi-tenancy.

Given these fundamental differences between different modes of delivering software as a service, it is clear that the future lies with the multi-tenant model.

Whether all customer data is put onto one database or onto multiple databases is of no consequence to the customer.  For those arguing against it, it is like an assertion that companies “do not want to put all their money into the same bank account as their competitors,” when what those companies are doing is putting their money into different accounts at the same bank.

When customers of a financial institution share what does not need to be partitioned—for example, the transactional logic and the database maintenance tools, security, and physical infrastructure and insurance offered by a major financial institution—then they enjoy advantages of security, capacity, consistency, and reliability that would not be affordably deliverable in isolated parallel systems.

In enterprise cloud applications and cloud application platforms, multi-tenancy yields a compelling the combination of efficiency and capability without sacrificing flexibility or governance.

When a software provider seeks to blur the distinctions between one technology and another, there’s usually just one reason: because they are unable to offer the superior technology to their customers, and hope to persuade their customers that real differences are not relevant to their needs.  Multi-tenant platforms for enterprise on-demand applications represent genuine opportunities for customer advantage.  The reality of multi-tenant differentiation is acknowledged by authoritative industry analysts such as Gartner, whose March 2007 announcement1 of its Outsourcing Summit that month included this definition of Software as a Service:

“Hosted software based on a single set of common code and data definitions that are consumed in a one-to-many model.”

In other words, hosting models that do not offer the leverage of multi-tenancy don’t belong in the same discussion as the value proposition implied by the term, “SaaS”.  Multi-tenancy is a difference that makes a difference.


1Gartner Inc., “SaaS will have significant impact on IT services and outsourcing providers,” Tekrati, 7 March 2007


Modern software technology and design has enabled an unprecedented amount of creation and innovation by managers, subject matter experts, and technical staff.

Before, if you wanted a new custom facility environmental audit form, you had to create a set of specifications, outline all functionality, and engage software developers to create the application (or just do it all on paper).  This approach could take months to develop, test, debug, and rework.  With the tools we have now, this kind of custom job can be done within a day, complete with mobile-enabled forms.  It’s amazing how modern technology is such a huge time and cost saver.  But it also introduces a new list of challenges that have to be considered when taking ownership of a configurable software solution.

You need to know what you want.

While we now have easy-to-use tools for creating applications, you still need to define what you want to get out of the application you’re making.  When you buy pre-configured software, you adapt your process to fit the constraints of the system you just bought. When you buy configurable software, you’re able to create the exact workflow that you need, but you have to first develop a complete understanding of what your needs actually are. With flexible tools, it’s easy to try out different configurations with your team members.  However, it’s a challenge to have your team on the same page about what configuration will benefit the entire range of users or departments.

Just because you can make easy and fast changes, doesn’t mean you should.

Typically, you have to wait until a vendor updates the software and hope they address any changes you were hoping for.  With configurable software, you or the vendor can make those changes anytime.

However, if you’re making these kinds of changes on your own, without proper management and communication, there is a very good chance you will create usability issues for other users in your community. Even the simplest management system for changes will make everyone’s life easier. For example, you can categorize potential changes by their urgency. The urgent changes can be notified to users immediately (as soon as they are made), and the non-urgent changes can be scheduled for later. Establishing any kind of management and communication system can help you keep your team up to date with software changes.

You are not in this alone.

Configurable software, with its endless possibilities, may seem daunting.  But you don’t have to be overwhelmed with options— there are plenty of people who would love to help you:

  • The software vendor can be your configuration partner and do the work at your direction. You get real-time updates to ensure the configuration keeps heading in the right direction toward fulfilling your needs— and you can spend your time focusing on your business, rather than configuring the software.
  • Your consultants can configure for you. It’s very likely that you have great, trusted relationships with the consulting community, who already know you and have developed some understanding of your business needs.  These resources can help to ensure you get the perfect solution.
  • Your staff likely has people that would love to configure and would jump at the chance to develop an effective solution that benefits the department and the organization as a whole. They are easy to spot— they spend time in Excel and write macros for fun.
Bottom line: Plan, prioritize, partner.

Configurable software can open up a world of options and often prove to be a great choice for many customers.  But it’s important that you understand the process— including all the advantages and challenges that come with it. Decide how you want to manage the configuration and reach out to trusted people. With some preparation and an invested team, you will have no problem navigating the exciting waters that technology has made possible.

Still looking for the right EHS software to revolutionize your environmental and compliance initiatives?  Book a demo with us today!


Marian Carr

About guest blogger— Marian Carr, Locus Technologies

Ms. Carr is responsible for managing overall customer solution deployments and customer relationships with Locus’ government accounts. Her career at Locus includes heading the product development team of the award-winning cloud-based environmental ePortal solution as well as maintaining and growing key customer accounts with Locus’ Fortune 100 enterprise deployments. In addition, Ms. Carr was instrumental in driving the growth and adoption of the Locus EIM platform with key federal and water organizations.

A recently published survey by a research analyst firm indicates that 90 percent of EHS software applications installed today are single-tenant on customer premises or single-tenant, vendor hosted.  Only 10 percent are multitenant, vendor-hosted. In other words, most of the vendors in the EH&S space do not run a single version of their software maintained at one location. Instead, they run multiple copies at a single or multiple locations, with the high likelihood that these multiple copies are not alike, but instead represent multiple versions or contain specific customizations for individual customers. This model is crushing their growth and scalability potential.

Locus delivers EHS+S SaaS solutions as highly scalable, Software as a Service (SaaS) application and platform services on a multitenant technology architecture. Multitenancy is an architectural approach that allows Locus to operate a single application instance for multiple organizations, treating all customers as separate tenants who run in virtual isolation from each other. Customers can use and customize an application as though they each have a separate instance, yet their data and customizations remain secure and insulated from the activities of all other tenants. Locus multitenant services run on a single stack of hardware and software, which is comprised of commercially available hardware and a  combination of proprietary and commercially available software. As a result, Locus can spread the cost of delivering EHS SaaS services across user base, which lowers the cost for each customer. Also, because Locus does not have to manage thousands of distinct applications with their business logic and database schemas, we believe that we can scale our business faster than traditional software vendors. Moreover, we can focus our resources on building new functionality to deliver to customer base as a whole rather than on maintaining an infrastructure to support each of their distinct applications.

Multitenancy also allows for faster bug and security fixes, automatic software updates and the ability to deploy major releases and frequent, incremental improvements to Locus’ services, benefiting the entire user community. Our services are optimized to run on specific databases and operating systems using the tools and platforms best suited to serve customers rather than on-premise software that must be written to the different hardware, operating systems and database platforms existing within a customer’s unique systems environment. Locus developers build and support solutions and features on a single code base on our chosen technology platform. Locus efforts are focused on improving and enhancing the features, functionality, performance, availability and security of existing service offerings as well as developing new features, functionality, and services.

Locus customers and third-party developers can create apps rapidly because of the ease of use of Locus Platform and the benefits of a multitenant platform. Locus provides the capability for business users to configure applications easily to suit their specific needs.

Also, Locus multitenant cloud platform makes it possible to use a remarkably small number of servers as efficiently as possible. When organizations move business applications to Locus, they can significantly reduce their energy use and carbon footprints compared to traditional on-premises or single-tenant or ASP solutions

Locus built and maintains a multitenant application architecture that has been designed to enable service to scale securely, reliably and cost effectively. Locus’ multitenant application architecture maintains the integrity and separation of customer data while still permitting all customers to use the same application functionality simultaneously.

Both Locus and its data centers providers hold independent  AICPA SOC1 (SSAE16)  and SOC2 certification.

Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) leverages new mobile app for its environmental data collection processes

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., 27 October 2014 — Locus Technologies (Locus), the leader in cloud-based environmental compliance and information management software, has announced the launch of a new mobile application Locus Mobile, designed for easy and accurate data collection on the go.

Locus Mobile works both online and offline to ensure continuous access and interaction, and takes advantage of the most advanced technology to provide a variety of options for ad hoc sampling, additional field data checks, dynamic forms, and effective mapping tools. Locus Mobile users can easily configure business-specific data collection needs, enter data offline and upload on-demand, and synchronize data back to Locus’ systems for final review, storing, managing, and reporting.

Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) has awarded a contract to Locus for the new Locus Mobile app, through which users can upload data directly from the field to their data management and compliance system, EIM. By taking advantage of configurable planned sampling and monitoring events, real-time data validation in the field, GPS mapping capabilities, and a complete audit trail of who, what, when and where, LANL expects that it will operate with a significantly higher degree of confidence that its environmental reporting and decision making are based off of the most accurate information possible in real time.

“We are seeing growing customer interest in adding mobility to our full-line of environmental and sustainability information management applications to more efficiently centralize remotely collected information for executive decision-support reporting. The next step is to push information the other way so that remote personnel are empowered with the information and instructions they need to take appropriate preventative and remedial action on the ground, perform real-time data validation, and spot exceedances,” said Locus CEO, Neno Duplan. “As a result of this more frictionless two-way data flow, mobile has the potential to completely transform the way enterprises address their environmental and sustainability challenges and achieve positive outcomes for the environment, brand protection, and their shareholders and customers.”

Locus Mobile is offered as a downloadable app from the Apple App Store to work with Locus’ cloud software systems.

Leading Agricultural Products Technology Company Selects Locus for Sustainability Reporting

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., 2 June 2014 — Monsanto Company, a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality, has selected Locus Technologies (Locus) to provide a comprehensive, integrated software platform for sustainability management and environmental stewardship throughout the corporation’s facilities.

Monsanto has adopted the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework, a comprehensive sustainability reporting structure that is widely used around the world to more effectively measure, build upon, and communicate its current sustainability efforts. As a member of the GRI G4 Pioneers program Monsanto is utilizing the Locus enhanced data collection process to enable the transition to the new GRI G4 platform.

Locus’ award-winning EH&S and sustainability software platform is already implemented and provides Monsanto with enterprise tools to organize the GRI indicator collection and reporting solution for its corporate sustainability group. Monsanto site personnel are now able to enter GRI Indicator data by site, and produce reports for their sites. Corporate personnel are able to produce reports of data aggregated across the entire organization for use in preparing and automating their GRI Reporting.

“We are very pleased that Monsanto has selected Locus’ cloud-based software to organize its GRI information,” said Neno Duplan, President and CEO of Locus Technologies. “The GRI Guidelines are the world’s most widely-used sustainability reporting framework and we are very pleased to support Monsanto in their reporting requirements. Both Monsanto and Locus are GRI Organizational Stakeholders,” added Duplan.

Locus’ EIM software automates the generation of Self-Monitoring Report Forms (SMRFs) for the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ)

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., 22 April 2014 — In response to industry and customer requirements, Locus Technologies (Locus), the leader in cloud-based environmental compliance and information management software, has expanded its award-winning Environmental Information Management (EIM) software to automate the generation of Self-Monitoring Report Forms (SMRFs).

Locus EIM solves the problem of expensive, labor-intensive manual SMRF generation by completely automating the process. SMRFs are required by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, and are meant to meet the monitoring and reporting requirements as set forth by each facility’s Aquifer Protection Permit (APP) or Reuse Permit. An example form may include data such as sample date, analysis date, lab ID, reported concentration or method, and can incorporate other extremely specific information.

Thanks to Locus’ new functionality, once arranged in EIM, companies can generate SMRFs within minutes in the approved formats, using validated data. Companies can set up EIM for all permitted facilities and realize immediate cost and time savings during each reporting period. Relevant data are directly uploaded to the system, reviewed and validated, then reported in the proper regulatory required formats. These new output formats can be easily modified to generate the exact format needed by other cities that are required to submit similar self-monitoring report forms.

“Incorporating the automatic generation of SMRFs within our EIM software is a testament to the true flexibility of Locus’ software platforms,” said Neno Duplan, President & CEO of Locus Technologies. “It is our goal here at Locus to automate reporting by providing as many off-the-shelf standard reports as possible. SMRF reports are just one of many examples. By automating reporting our customers streamline their management processes, so that they increase operational efficiencies and lower reporting costs.”

The new Locus platform offers a highly configurable, user-friendly interface to fully meet individual organizations’ environmental management needs

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., 21 October 2013 — Locus Technologies (Locus), the leader in cloud-based environmental and sustainability management software, introduces its newest platform to redefine how companies organize, manage, visualize, and report their environmental, sustainability, and compliance information.

Today, environmental, sustainability, and energy managers for organizations of all sizes face myriad options from software suppliers offering various single-domain applications. Challenged with an ever-evolving regulatory landscape, these managers must select a software provider that can adapt to new compliance constraints and the constant changes of existing regulations, often with multijurisdictional requirements; unfortunately, most software suppliers have rigid platforms or applications that fail to keep up with constantly changing needs, are hard to integrate, and are often obsolete before they are even implemented.

To address this industry challenge, the company designed the new Locus platform to provide rich functionality in a simple way so that it would be easy for customers to make the most of their data management and reporting requirements. In addition, the new platform helps companies avoid many of the costs generally associated with implementing traditional software systems thanks to its simple setup, navigation, and configuration options, thereby eliminating the need for expensive implementations, user training, and customizations.

Locus addressed common barriers to using environmental management software when designing the new Locus platform. Specifically, Locus conducted a gap analysis of current software offerings. It identified challenges through feedback from its end users and other industry professionals, and through customer surveys conducted by several industry research analysts’ firms over the last two years. Specifically, users were wary of complex and expensive systems and implementations; a rigid regulatory environment for businesses that made adapting to new systems costly and complicated; and integration of a new platform with legacy systems.

The resulting Locus platform offers an intuitive interface with the immense flexibility to incorporate features such as drag-and-drop forms creation, visual business-process modeling, Excel import/export integration, and a rich and configurable user dashboards and reporting interface. Locus created every feature with the end user in mind to promote quick and easy data capture and task management. Finally, customers should see significant savings over traditional software offerings both at the time of implementation and over the long term. Because the Locus platform’s system, upgrades, and maintenance are cloud-based rather than configured on individual user workstations, while users can configure the way they use the software, they do not need to pay for customization at the individual level.

“We listened to industry users and created configurable dashboards that are clean, dynamically driven, easy to read, and easy to access. This platform will improve companies’ data collection, analysis, and most importantly, reporting capabilities,” said Neno Duplan, President and CEO of Locus. “The new Locus platform will make the required compliance and EH&S reporting expected of most companies more streamlined. The end result is the mitigation of regulatory risks and fines.”

The launch of the latest Locus platform follows the same guidelines and goals that the company established during the original inception of ePortal in 2000. This version is the latest embodiment of Locus’ industry differentiation: to offer an integrated solution so that companies can manage all of their environmental, energy, water, waste, carbon, air, health and safety, and compliance information in one place.

“We’ve updated the platform based on industry wants and needs,” remarked Duplan. “This isn’t a product of different solutions pieced together to look like one; it is the ‘whole solution.’ We have always created our products in this same vein because it means less time to configure, less time to implement, and far fewer support requirements. And it means a dramatically lower cost than customers have seen in the past with the ERP providers or point solutions from different vendors. Budget has long been a barrier to implementation and we are stepping up to the plate to solve that problem.”

Locus will conduct the first live demonstrations of the new platform at the Locus booth at the National Association for Environmental Management 2013 EHS Management Forum from October 23-25 in Montreal.

Locus demonstrates best-in-class capability and market leadership through demonstrated technology success and customer commitment

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., 30 July 2013 — Locus Technologies (Locus), the leader in cloud-based environmental compliance and information management software, today announced it has attained a Gold Application Development competency, demonstrating a “best-in-class” ability and commitment to meet Microsoft Corp. customers’ evolving needs in today’s dynamic business environment and distinguishing itself within the top one percent of Microsoft’s partner ecosystem.

To earn a Microsoft gold competency, partners must successfully complete exams (resulting in Microsoft Certified Professionals) to prove their level of technology expertise, and then designate these certified professionals uniquely to one Microsoft competency, ensuring a certain level of staffing capacity. They also must submit customer references that demonstrate successful projects (along with implementing a yearly customer satisfaction study), meet a revenue commitment, and pass technology and/or sales assessments.

“This Microsoft Gold Application Development competency showcases our expertise in and commitment to today’s technology market and to providing our customers with the most advanced technology and functionality available,” said Neno Duplan, President & CEO of Locus. “We plan to accelerate our customers’ environmental data management success by combining this and other advanced web technologies with our deep domain expertise.”

“By achieving a gold competency, partners have demonstrated the highest, most consistent capability and commitment to the latest Microsoft technology,” said Jon Roskill, corporate vice president, Worldwide Partner Group at Microsoft Corp. “These partners have a deep expertise that puts them in the top one percent of our partner ecosystem, and their proficiency will help customers drive innovative solutions on the latest Microsoft technology.”

Earning the Application Development competency helps partners differentiate themselves as a trusted expert to their customers through development and deployment of commercial or custom applications built using core Microsoft technologies.

Environmental Business Journal is proud to announce its 15th annual business achievement awards. Our 2012 winners succeeded in a relatively difficult business climate, so we salute the dedication and commitment of the companies awarded.