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Thread: Software as a Service (Saas) and Multi-tenant Architecture

  1. #1
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    Default Software as a Service (Saas) and Multi-tenant Architecture

    Hi All

    I am building a Saas website using Alpha 5. I am also using a multi-tenant database approach on Mysql. What this means is that all my customer will be sharing the same tables. I ensure that they cannot see each other's data using the Alpha security framework and storing the user ID in each table.

    My one concern is if I accidently publish a grid where I forget to include (or accidently delete) the filter of user_id, it will open up the query to all user data. Very bad.

    I want to come up with another failsafe. For example, the grid would error out if it found more than two user ids in the result set. Or something on mysql...

    Anyway, I am open to any and all suggestions on this one to increase the security of everyone's data on my website!

    Cheers,

    Scott

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    Default Re: Software as a Service (Saas) and Multi-tenant Architecture

    Scot,
    Could you tell me how you use the user id to filter tables please?

    Thanks in advance
    Bill Belanger

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    Default Re: Software as a Service (Saas) and Multi-tenant Architecture

    It is a natural law that two weak systems are weaker than one weak system. Have your failsafe be a thorough method to ensure the filter is set properly.
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    Default Re: Software as a Service (Saas) and Multi-tenant Architecture

    Hi Bill,

    The filter mechanism is the standard Alpha setup....when the user logs in I assign them them a protected session id and then all records entered and selected from the MYSQL database are filtered on that value, there is a ton of info on this on the message board but if you need any direction just let me know...

    Hi Steve, I agree with your statement but feel that two strong systems are better then one strong system....in terms of setting a filter properly I plan to use a checklist, so that any time something is published I force myself to follow the checklist...seems to work well for Airline pilots :)

    Cheers,

    Scott

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    Default Re: Software as a Service (Saas) and Multi-tenant Architecture

    Scott,
    I suggest that you design your filter to default to no one showing. I had the same kind of filtering going on in one of my apps that you are planning, but when the session variable timed out, the argument it was mapped to didn't cause an error...it showed everyone. So, I changed the filter so that no one would show up unless the argument specifically allowed them.
    Pat
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    Default Re: Software as a Service (Saas) and Multi-tenant Architecture

    Is it only me or do others feel that maybe version 11 will be more saas friendly? I have two police departments on filemaker server and would love to combine them into one server using Alpha and the same user interface sharing tables. I know I CAN do it now, but since I've had this setup with them for 15 years, there's no real rush, and if Alpha is going to make it easier for me to get this done, maybe I wouldn't have to work so hard. :-)

    Lazy Bill Belanger

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    Default Re: Software as a Service (Saas) and Multi-tenant Architecture

    LAZY - Take nothing for granted, do it before a competitor does and takes the client(s) - it does happen (and without notice)- it could not be easier to do so get moving.
    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
    Albert Einstein, (attributed)
    US (German-born) physicist (1879 - 1955)

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    Default Re: Software as a Service (Saas) and Multi-tenant Architecture

    Thanks for the advice Pete. Unfortunately at my rates there is no competition. :-) This is pretty much a hobby for me, I just do it because I enjoy it, I have other good paying businesses that support me. My customers get what they pay for and we're all happy. I don't have any paid applications out there that use Alpha, only Filemaker. So all the money I've spent on Alpha over the past 8 years is still just tuition. You say "it could not be easier" and that's probably true for you since you're a professional programmer. To be fair, Alpha says "Programming skills are optional with Alpha v10" on their website, but every time I try to do something serious with it, I get into what I consider programming. I'm not complaining, just stating how I see the product. I needed to do an inventory program for a freezer plant and I almost got it done in Alpha, but ran into issues that required what I considered programming beyond my skill level, and even with all the help from you kind folks on this board, ended up starting over and doing it in Filemaker. That was the second project with same scenario, you'd think I'd learn. Scott says there is a ton of info on this board for doing the saas stuff, but I've been watching this board for a long time and I see references to ulinks and protected session ids and so forth. That all looks like programming to me. I don't see anything in the web security controls that allow me to assign a user with any id. So I guess I'll just wait to see what version 11 brings. I started designing databases in 1984 with a product call Helix on a Mac. Filemaker was a natural progression since it ran on PCs too. I figured Alpha server with a web client was the ultimate, but I'm just not quite there yet. Maybe someday I'll wake up and realize I'm out of my league with Alpha, but they keep dangling the candy in front of me. With Filemaker I design a desktop form, or choose one that's predesigned and pretty, stick it in a web folder, and it gets served up. Now that couldn't be easier. I have nothing but praise for Alpha, but it just seems to stay one step ahead of me.

    Bill

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    Default Re: Software as a Service (Saas) and Multi-tenant Architecture

    Well - I agree with you and I'm sorry if I have caused any grief. What you have described it not uncommon from what I see, why not send me some things you have worked on that have you stumped and I'll explain to you what you need to know.
    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
    Albert Einstein, (attributed)
    US (German-born) physicist (1879 - 1955)

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    Default Re: Software as a Service (Saas) and Multi-tenant Architecture

    Thanks Peter, that's very kind of you. No grief here! I know how busy you folks are who do this for a living and for any of you to offer to help the rest of us beginners is truly a step beyond. I'll try again to get my tables filtered by group and I'll let you know where I get stumped. I was just thinking that since Alpha did a survey about saas that the new version might have some shortcuts.

    Bill

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    Default Re: Software as a Service (Saas) and Multi-tenant Architecture

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill@TrackerSystems.com View Post
    To be fair, Alpha says "Programming skills are optional with Alpha v10" on their website, but every time I try to do something serious with it, I get into what I consider programming.
    Yeah, I agree too. On the desktop you really can produce a sophisticated application w/o any programming using Alpha. But on the web, it's almost impossible. We're better off if we think of the WAS as a Web App Builder that, more or less, requires at least some programming skills.

    but I've been watching this board for a long time and I see references to ulinks and protected session ids and so forth. That all looks like programming to me. I don't see anything in the web security controls that allow me to assign a user with any id.
    As I'm sure you know, you can do this - from the desktop, published to the web. But to do it from the web, you have to hand code it yourself, yup. This is one of the single biggest stumbling blocks to new users wanting to build a web app - and it ain't easy if you're not a programmer type. And even good programmers who come to this the first time have to dig out all the web security functions, study how they work, figure out the logic to make them work, and then - figure out the logic and syntax on how to make it all work within the context of a grid, etc etc. Alpha's outdated documentation on this still refers to using an old fashioned dialog for web security (which many of the security functions were specifically designed to work with) and so on and so on. I'm with you Bill, it's not easy.

    With Filemaker I design a desktop form, or choose one that's predesigned and pretty, stick it in a web folder, and it gets served up. Now that couldn't be easier.
    It's funny that you say that. I have heard some FM guys say the same thing. You can take a desktop form (or whatever) and with one just-click, publish it to the web. Then I have heard other FM guys say that FM on the web is a piece of junk. Not being an FM guy, I'm a little confused. I assume that their are probably serious limitations on what yo can do with FM on the web, if not the desktop. Perhaps you could elaborate, Bill?

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    Default Re: Software as a Service (Saas) and Multi-tenant Architecture

    Sure Peter. With Filemaker, you publish a desktop layout. Starting from scratch you can make say 5 fields, make a layout, put the fields on it, put that layout into a web folder and you're done. No more than 5 minutes from start to web. There are two ways to access it. One is with a full version of Filemaker Pro for about 300 bucks per seat. It gives you the same user experience as a desktop app. It's fmnet:/serverURL It's just as if you were using it on a LAN. On the other hand if you want users to access via a web browser, the look and feel changes, printing is a real bother, some scripts don't work. It's OK, and I have some people using it because they don't want to spend the 300 bucks, but it's not great. Here's a sample
    http://72.45.168.163/fmi/iwp/cgi?-db=opti tracker&-startsession
    Just login as a guest.
    The two issues I have are, filemaker server is $1,000 and will allow filemaker pro clients. If you want people to access with a browser, you need filemaker server advanced and that's $3,000. So if you have a client with three computers in their office, that's $900 for their filemaker seats, or they can use the browser. But they can't print except printing a screen shot. Not acceptable for me. There is no way to filter tables in filemaker without doing a "find". Again, something I don't like. Servoy is like filemaker, is designed for saas, but is $300 per concurrent user. So you buy a license for 5 users, only 5 can be on at a time. Alpha will be the most cost effective solution and with it's ability to use the rtf editor and export a pdf, it will be just what I need, eventually. BTW, I'll only leave the sample up for today 6/19

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    Default Re: Software as a Service (Saas) and Multi-tenant Architecture

    The real benefit of course is that you design only one form, whether for the desktop or the web.

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    Default Re: Software as a Service (Saas) and Multi-tenant Architecture

    Bill, your site has the guest option disabled. Also, you get two error messages before the page initially loads.

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    Default Re: Software as a Service (Saas) and Multi-tenant Architecture

    Hum...Are you getting to Opti tracker or Crime tracker? Crime Tracker has the guest disabled.
    If you're going to the home page, you will only see Crime tracker available.

    http://72.45.168.163/fmi/iwp/cgi?-db=opti tracker&-startsession

    That should bypass the IWP screen
    What errors are you getting?

    Bill

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    Default Re: Software as a Service (Saas) and Multi-tenant Architecture

    Make sure you're getting the entire URL not stopping at db=opti

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    Default Re: Software as a Service (Saas) and Multi-tenant Architecture

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill@TrackerSystems.com View Post
    Make sure you're getting the entire URL not stopping at db=opti
    I'm just clicking on the link, but even if I manually copy the entire url = same problem.

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    Default Re: Software as a Service (Saas) and Multi-tenant Architecture

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter.Greulich View Post
    Bill, your site has the guest option disabled. Also, you get two error messages before the page initially loads.
    Same for me.
    Win 10 64 Development, Win 7 64 WAS 11-1, 2, Win 10 64 AA-1,2, MySql, dbForge Studio The Best MySQL GUI Tool IMHO. http://www.devart.com/dbforge/mysql/studio/

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    Default Re: Software as a Service (Saas) and Multi-tenant Architecture

    OK, I've changed the name to take out the space and added the port#.

    http://72.45.168.163:80/fmi/iwp/cgi?...&-startsession

    Bill

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    Default Re: Software as a Service (Saas) and Multi-tenant Architecture

    Now I only get one error message, but you still can't select guest.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Software as a Service (Saas) and Multi-tenant Architecture

    Peter, Are you trying to open Crime Tracker or Optitracker? Crime Tracker does not have the guest option enabled and is the default database if you're not getting to OptiTracker.

    http://72.45.168.163/fmi/iwp/cgi?-db...&-startsession

    Bill

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    Default Re: Software as a Service (Saas) and Multi-tenant Architecture

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill@TrackerSystems.com View Post
    Peter, Are you trying to open Crime Tracker or Optitracker? Crime Tracker does not have the guest option enabled and is the default database if you're not getting to OptiTracker.

    http://72.45.168.163/fmi/iwp/cgi?-db...&-startsession

    Bill
    Previously there was no Optitracker option visible. But this latest link works.

    That's kind of nice. There is a certain simplicity (in the good sense) of a template driven database. But I can see where the price and configuration restrictions are a big stumbling block. Lack of printing capability is a huge disability as well. But I like the look and feel. Nice job.

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    Default Re: Software as a Service (Saas) and Multi-tenant Architecture

    Glad you finally got in! The look and feel is much nicer if you are using a filemaker client. The web (browser) client is a bit cheesy in comparison, but for data entry or lookups from the field it works.

    Bill

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    Default Re: Software as a Service (Saas) and Multi-tenant Architecture

    I would also really appreciate some guidance on how to set permissions so that each user only sees their respective additions to the tables. In my tables I have a field for user_id named the same in the other tables, like user_id and invoice_id with the idea being that with one record of an invoice_id only belonging to ONE user_id the two would never get mixed up...but I am unsure how to exactly commit it to the user as well as how to make the relationship between tables where the same field would (or I would like) relate to the self same logged in user of my forms.

    Does the form post to the user_id each time a record is submitted or does that get written once during sign up with the info magically cascading to all the other tables with the same field (relationship?)

    I have been reading the forums and the documentation for several days and cannot figure it out. I get that you can filter tables or views to "see information" but how I relate it to the user I give up. I hope I am making sense to some of you guys who seem to just get it, I somehow seem to get lost in it. I strongly believe that this product is something I can learn, I just get lost somewhere in the mechanics of it.

    I would also imagine that most of the guys who use this find my questions to be borderline retarded, but my brain can only hold so much information and I am really good at other things, lol.

    Thanks in advance for your time.

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    Default Re: Software as a Service (Saas) and Multi-tenant Architecture

    Quote Originally Posted by CharlesParker View Post
    I would also imagine that most of the guys who use this find my questions to be borderline retarded
    Here we go again. Not picking on your Charles. Read post #11 above. It's not easy. There's no roadmap and you need xbasic skills to make it work in a multi-tenant situation.

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    Default Re: Software as a Service (Saas) and Multi-tenant Architecture

    Agreed Peter it is not easy and I did read that, I think I am not asking the correct question. Let me try it another way, can anyone post some code from a grid in which a user (in a multi-tenant app) would get information from a specific row, meaning a row that pertained to them? I think if I had something to go by I could make it work.
    A second alternative and possibly the best one - Should I just make the app for myself and hire an alpha 5 experienced programmer to turn it into a multi tenant app? I am not opposed to paying for help. I just wanted to do as much as I could to create and build this. I am very much a hands on need to know person, but realize my limitations when I meet them as impossible for me. I am ok with it once I decide I give up!
    I really do believe that as much work went into alpha 5 that they are just a release away from a point and click multi-tenant security system as well...

    Last question: wheres the xbasic for dummies website at? Thanks for the reply Pete!

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    Default Re: Software as a Service (Saas) and Multi-tenant Architecture

    Ok so I just bought the "xbasic for everyone" at www.libertymanuals.com, I will set to learnin and one day come back with my own post and hopefully help someone else out...thanks google

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    Default Re: Software as a Service (Saas) and Multi-tenant Architecture

    Quote Originally Posted by CharlesParker View Post
    wheres the xbasic for dummies website?
    It is here

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    Default Re: Software as a Service (Saas) and Multi-tenant Architecture

    One word of caution about using "multi-tenant" databases - it can preclude the potential future use of an adhoc reporting tool. I helped an organization select a commercial SaaS CRM system for their use. One of the selling points was the ability to use an adhoc reporting tool to generate custom reports from the system. However, after buying into use of the system, the vendor indicated that use of the reporting tool required an organization specific instance of the MySQL database at significant additional cost (because they were using a multi-tenant structure). Bummer! The issue is that an adhoc reporting tool typically needs access to the schema that is not filtered by the value of a field in each table. While this may not currently be an issue with Alpha5, I will not be surprised to see an adhoc report writer included in Alpha5 at some point in the future. Even now, there are available open source report writers that will work with a MySQL database. Incorporation of an adhoc report writer in a multi-tenant system could require significant redesign of the database and rewrite of the application. For me, long term stability of the database design is paramount and for that reason I shy away from a multi-tenant database.

    Terry

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    Default Re: Software as a Service (Saas) and Multi-tenant Architecture

    Quote Originally Posted by kkfin View Post
    It is here
    Kkfin's xbasic & Alpha's xbasic are two different languages and presumably mutually exclusive.

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