Multisite Architecture Defined
A multisite architecture can be defined as a standalone architecture that runs multiple websites on a single codebase. These sites share a pool of common resources, tools, and other standard elements while giving the flexibility to customize certain aspects of underlying individual sites as needed. The deployment is done on a centralized platform that offers all the shared resources required. Moreover, it also maintains a superset of functionality to bring in much efficiency and control.
Today, a lot of Web based CMSs including Drupal, WordPress, Sitecore, offer multisite architecture that provide significant savings in development and maintenance costs.
In fact, a Forrester Wave ReportTM highlighted that Sitecore has been considered as a strong digital performer to achieve efficiencies at scale by reducing data silos. The report also states that the platform is the best option for supporting omnichannel content, wherein content and assets become reusable when required.
Related: Sitecore vs. Drupal: A Spectrum of Capabilities to Reimagine Content Management
Understanding the Case
Many large-scale enterprises or organizations deal with a vast range of products, brands and services that operate in silos. This, in turn, results in a website sprawl as organizations progress with merging and acquisitions or product portfolio expansion.
Though organizations tend to manage increasing web assets on an individual basis, but establishing unique processes creates inefficiencies and makes adverse impacts on organizational growth.
An increase in designing, hosting, training, integration and implementation cost
Business discontinuity across the brands
Siloed data which hinders process of creating customer-centric experiences
Lack of innovation to reimagine the business processes towards growth
Multisite management is the failsafe way to overcome such challenges. It ramps up the speed to launch a new business entity and keeps the operational cost low as they enhance customer experience. It provides a single point of integration, builds standardized scalable processes, and brings optimal consistency throughout the organization.
One appropriate example of multisite architecture is a B2B technology company that deals in security products and solutions with a comprehensive portfolio of innovative brands under their belt. The enterprise needed to build a smooth digital experience for each of its sub-brands in order to cater to targeted audience locally and globally. Icreon team has helped the enterprise to turn on personalized digital experience across the brands using Sitecore multisite architecture. The new design of the company’s website leverages the parent company’s architecture as the standard code and offers the flexibility for brand websites to serve specific purposes individually while sharing the same brand identity.
Here are the Top Five Benefits of Multisite Architecture
Rather than struggling with different websites – managing different skillsets and standards- multisite architecture enables large enterprises to have a focused IT team with fewer burdens associated with managing individual sites.
Single Codebase and Dashboard
Having the same codebase (web root directory) is great for managing multiple sites as it saves a significant amount of time. On top of that, a centralized system comprising these number of sites facilitates great control and administration. For instance, a company has a new project coming up and wanted a standalone website for its launch. Herein, a multisite platform can offer a single dashboard to develop and maintain the site providing them with a slew of options to create templates, control permissions, build clones to cater to different regions. All these things can be achieved without impacting the functionality of the underlying codebase.
In multisite management, organizations can have a place where all reusable components are stored. Such components can be accessed to build new websites with the desired features and functionalities. One important thing to note is that the components are standardized and built while keeping the best practices in mind. So, whenever the new site is rolled out, it maintains the brand consistency and performance.
Reduced Operational Overheads
Multisite architecture knocks down the licensing fees, maintenance charges, and resources allocated to administer each platform. Reusable components and common resources including codebase, database, web server, can keep website development costs low. Moreover, consolidating the website governance can de-escalate complications and duplication.
Ensure Brand Continuity and Consistency
Individual website teams often develop websites that appear and function differently. Sometimes these websites don’t keep up the consistent brand experience. Because multisite offers a standard set of modules, templates, common themes or components to replicate and work upon, the user experience consistency and brand continuity can be achieved easily.
Easy Maintenance and Upgrade
A standard site architecture gives organizations the flexibility to create new modules and update or replace the existing ones. With a standalone multisite architecture, visibility and control of different websites running on a common codebase remain streamlined. Easy maintenance leads to an enhanced site experience. Also, multisite architecture is helpful in hassle-free upgrades as each upgrade needs to be done only once.
Who Needs Multisite Architecture?
There is no second thought that the number of websites will keep increasing on the Internet as the ever-evolving customers have propelled industrial conglomerates to look forward to capturing the needs of these customers.
Industries with a strong need to run multiple websites include:
Large industries who own multiple sub-brands: Many large-scale industries like Consumer-Packaged Goods (CPGs), Retail, Pharma, and Luxury that have separate sub-brands deliver different look and feel to their target customers. However, there is still a requirement of common content that must be shared across those multiple sub-brands. A multisite architecture is the best option to meet these needs.
Businesses that support multilingual content (global, regional, local): For global websites that want to showcase their presence in different regions with multiple language options, multisite is the perfect option. Launching new sites in different languages becomes easy as they can go up live in days rather than in months.
Helpful Read: Six Lessons Learned from Launching our New Website on Sitecore
Media, entertainment, and publishing entities that need a lot of content being published every day can go ahead with multisite options. Because breaking the content into separate sites, intranets and other informational portals becomes more efficient with multisite management.
When Multisite is Not the Right Decision
Indubitably, there are a number of benefits associated with multisite architecture, but they may not be the right solution for every enterprise that owns multiple websites. Here are a few things to keep in mind to understand when a multisite doesn’t make sense to an enterprise need.
Distinctly Different Website
As stated above in the benefits, multisite holds true for multiple websites within an organization that have certain things in common. However, if one organization has individual sites that are entirely different from each other and serve different purposes, then multisite is not a suitable option for them. These websites are best maintained at their individual level to cater to the specific business purpose fully.
High Server Load
As a multisite platform is hosted in a single environment, a sudden increase in traffic in one site may depreciate the performance of all other sites hosted in the same environment. So, for websites that require a certain level of uptime to maintain, it is better to evaluate sites that can see traffic spikes frequently. If this is the case, then multisite is not the appropriate option for that organization.
Mission-critical business assets
As multisite management offers full administrative access to multiple key stakeholders (single sign-on), there are chances that malicious attempts may happen. And this becomes even more problematic when there is no mutual understanding between them. As a result, the scenario might turn out to be vindictive and can prove disastrous for a company running various sub-brands on the same codebase.
Choosing a multisite is a big decision. Though it may seem like a daunting task for organizations, but it is important to understand the underlying benefits based on business priorities. First, evaluate your business scenario and then understand how a multisite architecture fits into your goals. Embracing this architecture would surely pay you off in terms of faster digital experience.
If you’re thinking that running multiple websites on a single codebase is the right choice for your organization, connect with us and we will build you an effective multisite architecture on Sitecore.