Ciaran Moran. Web 2.0. Online Marketing. Social Media. Mobile. Android.

Ciaran Moran. Web 2.0. Online Marketing. Social Media. Mobile. Android. header image 4

ASP.Net Multi-Tenant SAAS Web Application – What You Need To Know

February 14th, 2011 by Ciaran

It would appear, from initial studies, that SAAS as a business model makes economic sense; well for small to medium businesses anyhow (large organisations may prefer to spend their larger budgets on their own home baked solutions supported by their expansive IT department). Economies of scale means less expenditure for underlying IT infrastructure and the human aspect involved in maintaining it – sounds very attractive to the small and medium sized business, but is it really so?

A SAAS (software as a service) application in simple terms is really a web based solution, that can be used by numerous tenants, and is maintained by the application provider. The cost for servers, hosting, security, maintenance, high availability, backups etc is already factored into the price of the application being offered.

The biggest threat to SAAS is the question over security. How does a business know that their confidential data is safe from other companies who are using the system, some of whom may even be direct competitors? Thats down to the solution the SAAS provider has created. All offer working solutions, but some are more “robust” out of the box than other solutions, but are less scalable. Conversely, the solutions that are more flexible (read cheaply scalable) also require the most effort to develop.

There are various solutions to architecting  a SAAS application. The main aim is to securely facilitate multi-tenants. Thats is, to use the one application to serve more than one user/company/multinational. However as always, there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

Probably in it’s simplest form, the most simplest solution is to create a database for each tenant that is using the system. This solution is very easy to instigate; simply copy the existing master database and create another instance that is individualised to the tenant in question. This probably sounds more secure than other alternative solutions. Each data transaction is separated and isolated from those of other users. It is easy to visualise the security benefits of this SAAS solution. However the DB layer can only be extended so far before it has to be scaled upwards to facilitate growth. Not cheap nor realistically economic for bottom line profit for the SAAS provider. After all, we are all in business to make money!

It would appear that the most scalable and affordable and expandable SAAS architecture is to use a shared database solution. This means we have only one database, and one copy for each main table. Each row on the tables would utilise a TenantId column. For each CRUD transaction (create, read, update, delete) the application has to serve, it will have to ensure that the requesting tenant is only served up with/accesses data that belongs to them, keeping data that belongs to other tenants securely hidden away. The downside is that this solution does requires the most significant effort at the application end – one which the developer may not be too happy to develop! However it will most likely be the most scalable.  Used with a stateless environment, like encrypted local client cookies, it can be scaled sideways as and when required to cope with tenant demand. It’s all more easier to add additional mid-range servers to extend the SAAS solution than to upgrade to a more powerful server.

In summary, a stateless web application coupled with a shared row based / horizontal partitioning database with data transactions secured on tenant ID sounds like the ideal best practice SAAS solution.

So there you have it; thats my personal take on SAAS applications. SAAS can be utilised to be beneficial for both the service provider and also the service user, which is the utmost important customer.

Oh and finally, where does the ASP.Net SAAS Multi-tenant aspect come into play? Well sorry to sat that the details of a technical ASP.Net solution is for another days blogging. I’ll update this post with a link to follow-up posts when I have time to work on some personal solutions. Until then, why not share your personal SAAS solutions in the comments…

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MIUI ROM. FM Radio & Folders. Hints Of Android 3.0 Gingerbread

September 23rd, 2010 by Ciaran

If you’re an Android fan you’ll love this! MIUI is a fantastic new ROM for Google Nexus One and the HTC Desire. It was discovered during the week and is the creation of Chinese developers. It has an air of mystery surrounding it; some rumours suggest that there’s more to this story then meets the eye!

I’ve been using MIUI for several days now on my Nexus One. I have to admit that MIUI has really grown on me in that time. I’ve included some screen an the end of this post.

Anyhow on to the good points:-

  • FM Radio (and no Sense UI in sight!)
  • Launcher folders
  • Fast animations, scrolling and app launching
  • Good battery life
  • Fantastic looking launcher and icons
  • 720p video recording
  • Direct screen shots
  • Trackball wake enable/disable
  • Stable

Some bad points:

  • Some text is still in Chinese (although I’ve applied English text updates from XDA Developers)
  • Difficult to update to new versions of some apps e.g. Gmail
  • Market may be slow for some

Overall I’m very impressed by the effort that the Chinese developers have put into this ROM. In fact so much so, that I’m starting to believe that this leak might be demonstrating what will be coming soon in Android 3.0 Gingerbread. Exciting times for Android fans!

Here you can see the beautiful icons on my launcher home screen.

MIUI Launcher on the Nexus One

The Launcher Manager allows you to rearrange the order of screens and to add more.

MIUI Launcher Screen Manager on the Nexus One

One of the best features – an FM Radio on the Nexus One

MIUI FM Radio on the Nexus One

The video camera offers 720p video recording

MIUI 720p Video Recorder on the Nexus One

Sample Folder on my App Launcher home screen. You can name the folder whatever you wish. Then you simply drag and drop apps into it.

MIUI Launcher Folder

So there you have it. A brief overview of the wonderful new MIUI ROM for the Nexus One and HTC Desire. Android fans rejoice!

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iPhone 4 HD Announced By Steve Jobs. Multi Tasking, Front Facing Camera FaceTime And More

June 7th, 2010 by Ciaran

The iPhone 4 HD has just been announced by Steve Jobs. The following are the main features :-

  • Named iPhone 4
  • Multi tasking
  • Front facing camera FaceTime video chat
  • Rear 5 megapixel camera
  • Multi Tasking
  • A4 processor ?MHz
  • LED Flash
  • 960×460 3.5″ screen
  • HD Video Recording

So what do you think of the new iPhone 4 HD with IOS 4? Will you buy one? Let me know in the comments…

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Twitter Contributors Will Make Your Business Tweets More Personal

April 8th, 2010 by Ciaran


Listen up – Twitter Contributors is big. Real big. This is a landmark initiative from Twitter for your business Twitter social media mix.

In one if my previous posts I highlighted a problem that I believe exists for a business that uses Twitter – the engagement between a business and its customers via Twitter can be confusing.

In many cases the personal side of customer engagement is being lost whilst Tweeting. An individual’s persona is not being conveyed across to its customers.

This can be confusing or even frustrating for your customers. In other words you aren’t doing anyone any favours as your efforts are having a negative impact.

In that post I suggested a possible solution, that is to use a third party Twitter Client like HootSuite or coTweet.

Now however Twitter itself is in the midst of introducing a new feature called Twitter Contributors. Although not fully rolled out yet, it looks to be a very useful and beneficial Twitter feature that your business cannot ignore.

Twitter Contributors will enable a business to have a team of people Tweeting away individually. The stream of Tweets will be combined into one combined main flow thats attributed to the business itself.

Let’s look at an example of Twitter Contributors. The following is an example Tweet provided by Twitter. You can see that Twitter founder Biz Stone has an individual Tweet. However the Tweet is also attributed to the main parent Twitter account.
Twitter Contributors. Many people can contribute to their business Twitter account

Again just to reiterate, the main account that this Tweet is associated with is Twitter. However you can see that Biz Stone is actually the person who authored the Tweet.

So there you go. Soon there will be no need for the likes of coTweet or HootSuite to facilitate an army of Twitter authors contributing to your Twitter content.

And therein lies another big trend that I predict we’ll see this year from Twitter. Twitter itself will erode away all the main advantages that third party Twitter clients currently enjoy. Twitter wants to control the Twitter interface, both web and client. Twitter Contributors is just the start of this shift. Just watch this space!

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Is Your Business Social Media Presence Confusing Your Customers?

March 24th, 2010 by Ciaran

Is your business using Social Media to interact with your customers online? Or perhaps you are considering adding Social Media to your marking mix? Either way I need to demonstrate a mistake that many businesses are making right now.

First lets look at why a business would want to use Social Media. One reason is so that their advertising and marketing campaigns reach the largest audience as possible. Newspaper and traditional TV consumption are dwindling in the face of Internet usage. Therefore a business needs to ramp up its online presence to maximise its reach with its target audience.

Even more so, a business needs to meet its customer in their own online neighbourhood. Are your customers on Facebook? Then include Facebook in your marketing mix. Are they on Twitter? Then use Twitter too. However don’t just throw them the “old fashioned” marketing effort. Instead with Social Media, you must now learn to engage with your customer. Get to know them on their own turf. Listen to them. Learn of their experiences, suggestions and needs. Then offer to answer their needs by matching them with your services or product.

However I see one facet of this shift that traditional Bricks and Mortar businesses are doing wrong. They are still marketing themselves as a Faceless Organisation.

Social Media offers a fantastic oppertunity for a business to tear down the corporate mask and show their human side. This enables a business to interact directly with their their customer in a friendly face-to-face inviting manner.

Lets think about what happens when you interect with a business in the traditional way. If a customer walks in the front door of a business they are generally treated with a smiling face and a polite welcoming. If you phone up you expect to be treated by a friendly welcoming human voice that comforts the caller.

Its these human aspects that should be extended to the Social Media doorstep, but they haven’t!

Let me provide an example. What many businesses are doing is using their corporate business logo as their Avatar, and using their corporate name as their social media name. This is all well and good for strengthening brand awareness, but where’s the human aspect of this? This still makes a business look like one more faceless organisation.

So how can a business convey a human welcoming to a customer arriving at their Social Media front door? I have a suggestion that just might work.

Lets say you have chosen Twitter as you Social Media voice. You upload your corporate logo as your Avatar, all important for visual brand recognition and brand awareness.

What about the Social Media Username? Surely we can leverage this unique piece of information and give it a human aspect? Yes we can, and its quit easy to accomplish too.

Lets say your business is called Acme Corp. Many businesses will set their username like “acmecorp”. Now if I’m on Twitter I can find you and interact with you. But do I find that a personal experience? I think that initially it is not personal enough. If you are a long time follower and have gotten to know the persona behind it all over time, then this issue is reduced. But what if I’m a new customer, or an existing one engaging with you using Social Media for the first time; I won’t know you from Adam. I won’t know the person whom I’m conversing with.

Even worse, what if the same Social Media account is used by different people over time? Who takes over during holidays and periods of sickness? Or perhaps you have a social marketing team that operate within a rota. Then you have different flavours of personality possibly conflicting and confusing the customer.

I believe that this is a shortcoming in the Social Media systems themselves. Twitter would be far more useful if it offered a business type account (perhaps at a small premium) with sub-accounts. Each sub account could then be used by each individual in the team. Each individual Tweet could then get rolled into one unified stream for the main parent business.

How can we accomplish this now though? The answer is to use Social Media Group Tools such as CoTweet or HootSuite. These Social Media Clients can facilitate Team Workflow functionality. This allows for different members of your Social Media marketing team to work in harmony yet within their own unique human persona. It also allows you to allocate different permissions to various team members, like contributor, editor, administrator etc.


Co-Tweet is aimed at Twitter. It will allow each member of your Social Media team to use Twitter using their own sub-account. All your Tweets will be made using your main business Twitter username. However the users initials get added to the Tweet.


HootSuite will allow you to manage your full Social Media effort. Do you Facebook? Twitter? Use WordPress as your Blog? Then HootSuite will facilitate all of these streams. You can also schedule blogs posts and Tweets, save drafts, upload files, manage followers and even tracks clicks using customised URL’s. Also importantly, you can track your social media efforts and report your social media statistics.

So there you have it. If you take your business Social Media Marketing efforts seriously then consider using a Social Media Professional Client to make your customer engagement more human.

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Is A Smartphone Really Dumb?

March 9th, 2010 by Ciaran

While away on a break recently I Tweeted that a Smartphone with no Internet connection is like having a dumb phone. Was I right?

Being in another country in Europe, it meant that any data usage would be charged at crazy roaming costs. With this in mind I had roaming switched off on my Nexus One.

On landing I had the disappointing feeling that I’d be offline for the weekend. Apart from phone voice and text functions, most useful phone features would be dormant.

First up was Google maps. Google maps are fantastic for finding your way around new destinations. However if you have no Net connection then this feature is all but useless. What I’d like to see Google providing is some sort of light offline version. This could perhaps allow you to download info for a destination. Having navigation available for driving like a TomTom would be useful. Even local road info along with surrounding facilities would be perfect e.g. shops, restaurants etc.

Other obvious features that were both useless offline and missed was Internet access and email. Need to Google some local info? You’re out of luck. Need to check your email? No go. You’ll be feeling out of contact I’d you depend on these services.

On major failing was also the Google translater. This is a great feature that allows you to talk or type onto your phone, and then you get a translation in your chosen language, the results can be either text or spoken. You can even get someone to speak their native language into the phone and have it translate back into your own language. This is extremely useful around Europe where so many languages are present.

However there’s a point of failure here. Unless you have very deep pockets, you will not be using data roaming. Therefore this fantastic pocket translator is practically useless. Honestly did Google even consider this aspect? Or perhaps they expect to be able to offer worldwide data access at some point in time?

So I was offline until I managed to find wireless connectivity. And believe me that’s not as easy as you might think. The lack of available open wifi is a big problem.

So what else didn’t work? How about Internet radio & music, Twitter, local weather forecast, news, RSS reader, online docs, online calendar, image uploads… you get the idea.

So what use is a Smartphone then when you are offline? Will there’s still a few good functions left that work offline.

First thing I used was the camera. The Nexus One has a brilliant 5MP camera. I was able to shoot some great pics where previously I would have used a camera. That’s one major advantage, not too bad.

What else? Music on the SD Card came in handy, as did a number of downloaded videos.

Another app I gad downloaded was MapDroyd. With this app I downloaded free offline maps. Although limited with no nav or search, it does allow you to use GPS to see your current location and see what’s around. It’s no replacement for Google Maps, but it’s a great offline option all the same.

On the plane I found myself writing up a few blog posts using the WordPress plugin. These were saved locally on the SD Card available for uploading later when back online.

So there you have it. A Smartphone looses most of its daily workhorse features when offline. However it’s surprising how useful a Smartphone can otherwise be when put to the test.

PS as the Nexus One OS unlocked, another option is to buy a local PAYG SIM Card with Internet access. However for a weekend away that’s not really an option worth loosing precious time on.

PPS Blog was typed offline on the Nexus One using WordPress app v1.0.2 for Androud and upload later over wifi.

Have you been abroad with your Smartphone lately? How did you fare?

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-02-28

February 28th, 2010 by Ciaran

  • Using #swype keyboard and loving it. Might just replace the standard Android keyboard with it. Recommend you try it out #
  • Dolphin Browser 2.5.0 now has tabbed browsing like Firefox. Also facilitates downloading of youtube videos as mp4 to the sd card. How cool. #
  • Just added myself to the twitter directory under: #dublin #socialmediamarketing #socialmedia #android #seo #html5 #
  • .@vickyswebdesign @brendanhughes I'm feeling slightly ambitious 😉 #
  • Hooked up WordPress & Twitter yesterday. New blog posts are auto tweeted, and a tweets appear in the blog's sidebar. Thanks to Twitter Tools #
  • MySpace now pushing "Discovery".Described as "effectively a recommendation engine around new content". #
  • Just finished a round of office exercises for Operation Transformation. Didn't expect that on my way in this morning! TV stardom looms Wed. #
  • How to be 10 times more productive #
  • @vickyswebdesign I'm intrigued to take a look. My phone provider is blocking the site though – I wonder why?! in reply to vickyswebdesign #
  • BBC iPlayer sees a record 100+ million program requests in January #
  • @vickyswebdesign probably just as well so in reply to vickyswebdesign #
  • Matt Cutts on leaving the iPhone for the Nexus One #
  • Just installed Google Earth on the Nexus One. Super fast it is too. #
  • Twitter now churning out 50 million Tweets a day #
  • Looks like most (all?) #HTML5 books aren't available until June/July at the earliest. Any recommendations? #
  • FarmVille on Nexus One. Yes, that's Flash 10.1 running on Android #
  • Today, Sciencefeed is launching as a realtime micro blogging platform designed specifically for scientists #
  • Google Code Jam 2010 finals to be held in Dublin Friday, July 30, 2010 in the city centre Google Office #
  • Grogger helps sites tap into this community knowledge. Build a site that includes posts by you & your audience #
  • Have Smartphone. Get robbed. Next get stalked #
  • French airstrike sucks, esp when you're actually waiting on a flight 🙁 #
  • Ryanair flight cancelled after 5 mins after making everyone board #fail #
  • RA claim its due to French airtraffic controllers #
  • No Tweet(s) forthcoming from Ryanair about Dublin cancellations! #
  • Ryanair are fav airline again. Got transferred to great resort – Tenerife. Not too bad at all. If only @barryhand could sort out hotel 😉 #
  • All sorted now. 5* in Tenerife thanks to 🙂 #
  • Spoke too soon. Deja Vu. Delayed on runway again, up to 1.5 hours wait on plane on runway! Wonder if we'll ever get out of Dublin Damn Frnch #
  • Captains Report over the intercom. May be another hour in the runway. Grrr. #
  • Still stationary on runway. Getting annoying now. Most excitement so far is being taxied 50 meters around the runway. zzzzz. #
  • Smell of fumes on the plane now. Still on runway. No sign of moving either. Think I'll write up a new blog post to pass time. Or sleep. #
  • Just been informed another half hour sitting on runway. Patience a necessary virtue #
  • @brendanhughes lets hope so. Was on runway yesterday evening and that got us nowhere. in reply to brendanhughes #
  • @vickyswebdesign would you fit in hand luggage? in reply to vickyswebdesign #
  • @brendanhughes was on plane on runway yesterday evening for Barcelona. Flight aborted. Now on runway again waiting for Tenerife in reply to brendanhughes #
  • Ah. Enjoying a sunny 22c degrees here. Thanks Ryanair! #
  • Smartphones are so dumb when no Net connection! #
  • @fbd_ie sunny & hot Tenerife. Nice folks at Ryanair a pleasure to deal with. in reply to fbd_ie #
  • @vickyswebdesign Barcelona flight cancelled. But thanks to @ryanair for flying us to sunny Tenerife to enjoy 25c sun! in reply to vickyswebdesign #
  • Enjoying Tenerife. #
  • @barryhand cheers. Balmy out here. 22c today. Nice to get some heat back into the bones 😉 in reply to barryhand #
  • Watching #6nations in Scottish owned Irish bar. Free wifi too boot. Horray for the "Hole In The Wall" pub! #

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Twitter Updates for 2010-02-24

February 24th, 2010 by Ciaran

  • Google Code Jam 2010 finals to be held in Dublin Friday, July 30, 2010 in the city centre Google Office #
  • Grogger helps sites tap into this community knowledge. Build a site that includes posts by you & your audience #

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Twitter Updates for 2010-02-24

February 24th, 2010 by Ciaran

  • Google Code Jam 2010 finals to be held in Dublin Friday, July 30, 2010 in the city centre Google Office #
  • Grogger helps sites tap into this community knowledge. Build a site that includes posts by you & your audience #

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Twitter Updates for 2010-02-23

February 23rd, 2010 by Ciaran

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