Multi-Tenancy

Multi-Tenancy regards the case in which a single Camunda installation should serve more than one tenant. For each tenant, certain guarantees of isolation should be made. For example, one tenant’s process instances should not interfere with those of another tenant.

Multi-Tenancy can be achieved in two different ways. One way is to use one process engine per tenant. The other way is to use just one process engine and associate the data with tenant identifiers. The two ways differ from each other in the level of data isolation, the effort of maintenance and the scalability. A combination of both ways is also possible.

Single Process Engine With Tenant-Identifiers

Multi-Tenancy can be achieved with one process engine which uses tenant identifiers (i.e., tenant-ids). The data of all tenants is stored in one table (same database and schema). Isolation is provided by the means of a tenant identifier that is stored in a column.

The tenant identifier is specified on the deployment and is propagated to all data that is created from the deployment (e.g., process definitions, process instances, tasks, etc.). To access the data for a specific tenant, the process engine allows to filter queries by a tenant identifier or specify a tenant identifier for a command (e.g., create a process instance). Additionally, the process engine provides transparent access restrictions in combination with the Identity Service that allows to omit the tenant identifier.

It is also possible for all tenants to share the same definitions without deploying them for each tenant. Shared definitions can simplify management of the deployments in case of a larger amount of tenants.

Examples

Find examples on GitHub that show how to use tenant-identifiers with

Deploy Definitions for a Tenant

To deploy definitions for a single tenant, the tenant identifier has to be set on the deployment. The given identifier is propagated to all definitions of the deployment so that they belong to the tenant.

If no tenant identifier is set then the deployment and its definitions belong to all tenants. In this case, all tenants can access the deployment and the definitions. See this section to read more about how to use shared definitions.

Specify the Tenant Identifier via Java API

When a deployment is created using the Repository Service, the tenant identifier can be set on the DeploymentBuilder .

repositoryService
  .createDeployment()
  .tenantId("tenant1")
  .addZipInputStream(inputStream)
  .deploy()

Specify the Tenant Identifier via Deployment Descriptor

In case of a process application, the deployment is specified by a processes.xml Deployment Descriptor. Since the descriptor can contain multiple process-archives (i.e., deployments), the tenant identifier can be set on each process-archive as tenantId attribute.

<process-application
  xmlns="http://www.camunda.org/schema/1.0/ProcessApplication"
  xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance">

  <process-archive tenantId="tenant1">
    <process-engine>default</process-engine>
    <properties>
      <property name="isDeleteUponUndeploy">false</property>
      <property name="isScanForProcessDefinitions">true</property>
    </properties>
  </process-archive>

</process-application>

Specify the Tenant Identifier via Spring Configuration

When the Automatic Resource Deployment of the Spring Framework Integration is used, the tenant identifier can be specified in the Process Engine Configuration as deploymentTenantId property.

<bean id="processEngineConfiguration" class="org.camunda.bpm.engine.spring.SpringProcessEngineConfiguration">
  <property name="deploymentResources">
    <array>
      <value>classpath*:/org/camunda/bpm/engine/spring/test/autodeployment/autodeploy.*.cmmn</value>
      <value>classpath*:/org/camunda/bpm/engine/spring/test/autodeployment/autodeploy.*.bpmn20.xml</value>
    </array>
  </property>
  <property name="deploymentTenantId" value="tenant1" />
</bean>

Versioning of Tenant-Specific Definitions

When a definition is deployed for a tenant then it is assigned a version which is independent from definitions of other tenants. For example, if a new process definition is deployed for two tenants then both definitions are assigned the version 1. The versioning within one tenant works like the versioning of definitions that belong to no tenant.

Query Data of a Tenant

The process engine queries of tenant-specific data (e.g., Deployment Query, Process Definition Query) allows to filter by one or more tenant identifiers. If no identifier is set then the result contains the data of all tenants.

Note that the transparent access restrictions of tenants can influence the result of a query if a user is not allowed to see the data of a tenant.

Query Deployments of a Tenant

To find the deployments of specific tenants, the tenant identifiers have to be passed to tenantIdIn on the DeploymentQuery.

List<Deployment> deployments = repositoryService
  .createDeploymentQuery()
  .tenantIdIn("tenant1", "tenant2")
  .orderByTenantId()
  .asc()
  .list();

In case of shared definitions, it can be useful to filter by deployments which belong to no tenant by calling withoutTenantId().

List<Deployment> deployments = repositoryService
  .createDeploymentQuery()
  .withoutTenantId()
  .list();

It is also possible to filter by deployments which belong to a specific tenant or no tenant by calling includeDeploymentsWithoutTenantId().

List<Deployment> deployments = repositoryService
  .createDeploymentQuery()
  .tenantIdIn("tenant1")
  .includeDeploymentsWithoutTenantId()
  .list();

Query Definitions of a Tenant

Similar to the DeploymentQuery, the definition queries allow to filter by one or more tenants and by definitions which belong to no tenant.

List<ProcessDefinition> processDefinitions = repositoryService
  .createProcessDefinitionQuery()
  .tenantIdIn("tenant1")
  .includeProcessDefinitionsWithoutTenantId();
  .list();

Run Commands for a Tenant

When a definition is deployed for multiple tenants, a command can be ambiguous (e.g., start a process instance by key). If such a command is executed, a ProcessEngineException is thrown. To run the command successfully, the tenant identifier has to be passed to the command.

Note that the transparent access restrictions of tenants can omit the tenant identifier if a user is only allowed to see one of the definitions.

Create a Process Instance

To create an instance by key of a process definition which is deployed for multiple tenants, the tenant identifier has to be passed to the ProcessInstantiationBuilder .

runtimeService
  .createProcessInstanceByKey("key")
  .processDefinitionTenantId("tenant1")
  .execute();

Correlate a Message

The Message API can be used to correlate a message to one or all tenants. In case a message can correlate to definitions or executions of multiple tenants, the tenant identifier has to be passed to the MessageCorrelationBuilder . Otherwise, a MismatchingMessageCorrelationException is thrown.

runtimeService
  .createMessageCorrelation("messageName")
  .tenantId("tenant1")
  .correlate();

To correlate a message to all tenants, pass no tenant identifier to the builder and call correlateAll().

runtimeService
  .createMessageCorrelation("messageName")
  .correlateAll();

Send a Signal

The Signal API can be used to deliver a signal to one or all tenants. Pass the tenant identifier to the SignalEventReceivedBuilder to deliver the signal to a specific tenant. If no identifier is passed then the signal is delivered to all tenants.

runtimeService
  .createSignalEvent("signalName")
  .tenantId("tenant1")
  .send();

When a signal is thrown within a process (i.e., intermediate signal event or signal end event) then the signal is delivered to definitions and executions which belong to the same tenant as the calling execution or no tenant.

Create a Case Instance

To create an instance by key of a case definition which is deployed for multiple tenants, the tenant identifier has to be passed to the CaseInstanceBuilder .

caseService
  .withCaseDefinitionByKey("key")
  .caseDefinitionTenantId("tenant1")
  .execute();

Evaluate a Decision Table

To evaluate a decision table by key which is deployed for multiple tenants, the tenant identifier has to be passed to the DecisionEvaluationBuilder .

decisionService
  .evaluateDecisionTableByKey("key")
  .decisionDefinitionTenantId("tenant1")
  .evaluate();

Transparent Access Restrictions for Tenants

When integrating Camunda into an application, it can be cumbersome to pass the tenant Id to each camunda API call. Since such an application usually also has a concept of an “authenticated user”, it is possible to set the list of tenant ids when setting the authentication:

try {
  identityService.setAuthentication("mary", asList("accounting"), asList("tenant1"));

  // All api calls executed here have "tenant1" transparently set as tenantId

}
finally {
  identityService.clearAuthentication();
}

In the above example, all api calls executed between setAuthentication(...) and clearAuthentication() are transparenty executed with the list of provided tenant Ids.

Query Example

The following query

try {
  identityService.setAuthentication("mary", asList("accounting"), asList("tenant1"));

  repositoryService.createProcessDefinitionQuery().list();
}
finally {
  identityService.clearAuthentication();
}

Is equivalent to

repositoryService.createProcessDefinitionQuery()
  .tenantIdIn("tenant1")
  .includeProcessDefinitionsWithoutTenantId()
  .list();

Task Access Example

For other commands like completeTask(), the transparent access check ensures that the authenticated user does not access resources by other tenants:

try {
  identityService.setAuthentication("mary", asList("accounting"), asList("tenant1"));

  // throws an exception if task has tenant id other than "tenant1"
  taskService.completeTask("someTaskId");
}
finally {
  identityService.clearAuthentication();
}

Getting a user’s Tenant Ids from the Identity Service

The process engine’s Identity Service can be used to manage users, groups and tenants as well as their relationships. The following example shows how to retreive the lists of groups and tenants for a given user and then use these lists when setting the authentication:

List<Tenant> groups = identityService.createGroupQuery()
  .userMember(userId)
  .list();

List<Tenant> tenants = identityService.createTenantQuery()
  .userMember(userId)
  .includingGroupsOfUser(true)
  .list();

try {
  identityService.setAuthentication(userId, groups, tenants);

  // get all tasks visible to user.
  taskService.createTaskQuery().list();
  
}
finally {
  identityService.clearAuthentication();
}

LDAP Identity Service

The above example only works with the Database Identity Service (i.e., the default implementation). The LDAP Identity Service doesn’t support tenants.

Camunda Rest API and Web Applications

The Camunda Rest API and the web applications Cockpit and Tasklist support the transparent access restrictions. When a user logs in then he only sees and can only access the data (e.g., process definitions) that belongs to one of his tenants.

Tenants and their memberships can be managed in the Admin web application.

Disable the Transparent Access Restrictions

The transparent access restrictions are enabled by default. To disable the restrictions, set the tenantCheckEnabled property in the ProcessEngineConfiguration to false.

Additionally, it is also possible to disable the restrictions for a single command (e.g., for a maintenance task). Use the CommandContext to disable and enable the restrictions for the current command.

commandContext.disableTenantCheck();

// e.g., do maintenance tasks over all tenants

commandContext.enableTenantCheck();

Note that the restrictions can’t be enabled for a command if they are disabled in the ProcessEngineConfiguration.

Access all Tenants as Administrator

Users who are a member of the group camunda-admin can access the data of all tenants, even if they don’t belong to the tenants. This is useful for an administrator of a multi-tenancy application since he has to manage the data over all tenants.

Shared Definitions for all Tenants

In section Deploy Definitions for a Tenant it is explained how to deploy a Process Definition or a Decision Definition for a particular tenant. The result is that the definition is only visible to the tenant for whom it was deployed but not to other tenants. This is useful if tenants have different processes and decisions. However, there are also many situations where all tenants should share the same definitions. In such situations it is desirable to deploy a definition only once, in a way that it is visible to all tenants. Then, when a new instance is created by a particular tenant, it should be only visible to that tenant (and administrators of course). This can be achieved by a usage pattern we call “Shared Definitions”. By the term usage pattern we mean that it is not a feature of Camunda per se but rather a specific way to use it to achieve the desired behavior.

Example

You can find an example on GitHub that shows how to use shared definitions.

Deploy a Shared Definition

Deploying a shared definition is just a “regular” deployment not assigning a Tenant Id to the deployment:

repositoryService
  .createDeployment()
  .addClasspathResource("processes/default/mainProcess.bpmn")
  .addClasspathResource("processes/default/subProcess.bpmn")
  .deploy();

Include Shared Definitions in a Query

Often in an application, we want to present a list of “available” process definitions to the user. In a multi tenancy context with shared resources we want the list to include definitions with the following properties:

  • tenant id is the current user’s tenant id,
  • tenant id is null => process is a shared resource.

To achieve this with a query, the query needs to restrict on the list of the user’s tenant ids (by calling tenantIdIn(...)) and include definitions without a tenant id (includeProcessDefinitionsWithoutTenantId()). Or, looking at it the other way around: exclude all definitions which have a tenant id which is different from the current user’s tenant id(s).

Example:

repositoryService.createProcessDefinitionQuery()
  .tenantIdIn("someTenantId")
  .includeProcessDefinitionsWithoutTenantId()
  .list();

Instantiate a Shared Definition

When creating (starting) a new process instance, the tenant id of the process definition is propagated to the process instance. Shared resources do not have a tenant id which means that no tenant id is propagated automatically. To have the tenant id of the user who starts the process instances assigned to the process instance, an implementation of the TenantIdProvider SPI needs to be provided.

The TenantIdProvider receives a callback when an instance of a process definition, case definition or decision definition is created. It can then assign a tenant id to the newly created instance (or not).

The following example shows how to assign a tenant id to an instance based on the current authentication:

public class CustomTenantIdProvider implements TenantIdProvider {

  @Override
  public String provideTenantIdForProcessInstance(TenantIdProviderProcessInstanceContext ctx) {
    return getTenantIdOfCurrentAuthentication();
  }

  @Override
  public String provideTenantIdForCaseInstance(TenantIdProviderCaseInstanceContext ctx) {
    return getTenantIdOfCurrentAuthentication();
  }

  @Override
  public String provideTenantIdForHistoricDecisionInstance(TenantIdProviderHistoricDecisionInstanceContext ctx) {
    return getTenantIdOfCurrentAuthentication();
  }

  protected String getTenantIdOfCurrentAuthentication() {

    IdentityService identityService = Context.getProcessEngineConfiguration().getIdentityService();
    Authentication currentAuthentication = identityService.getCurrentAuthentication();

    if (currentAuthentication != null) {

      List<String> tenantIds = currentAuthentication.getTenantIds();
      if (tenantIds.size() == 1) {
        return tenantIds.get(0);

      } else if (tenantIds.isEmpty()) {
        throw new IllegalStateException("no authenticated tenant");

      } else {
        throw new IllegalStateException("more than one authenticated tenant");
      }

    } else {
      throw new IllegalStateException("no authentication");
    }
  }

}

To use the TenantIdProvider, it must be set in the Process Engine Configuration, for example using the camunda.cfg.xml:

<beans>
  <bean id="processEngineConfiguration" class="org.camunda.bpm.engine.impl.cfg.StandaloneProcessEngineConfiguration">
    <!-- ... -->
    
    <property name="tenantIdProvider" ref="tenantIdProvider" />
  </bean>
  
  <bean id="tenantIdProvider" class="org.camunda.bpm.CustomTenantIdProvider">
</beans>

In case of a shared process engine, the provider can be set via Process Engine Plugin.

Tenant-specific behavior with Call Activities

So far, we have seen that shared resources are a useful pattern if tenants have the same process definition. The advantage is that we do not have to deploy the same process definitions once per tenant. Yet, in many real world applications, the situation is somewhat in between: tenants share mostly the same process definitions, but there are some tenant specific variations.

A common pattern of how to deal with this is to extract the tenant-specific behavior in a separate process which is then invoked using a call activity. Tenant specific decision logic (i.e., decision tables) using a business rules task are also common.

To realize this, the call activity or business rule task needs to select the correct definition to invoke based on the tenant id of the current process instance. The Shared Resources Example shows how to achieve this.

See also:

One Process Engine Per Tenant

Multi-Tenancy can be achieved by providing one process engine per tenant. Each process engine is configured to use a different data source which connects the data of the tenant. The data of the tenants can be stored in different databases, in one database with different schemas or in one schema with different tables.

The process engines can run on the same server so that all share the same computational resources such as a data source (when isolating via schemas or tables) or a thread pool for asynchronous job execution.

Tutorial

You can see the tutorial how to implement multi-tenancy with data isolation by schemas.

Configure the Process Engines

The process engines can be configured in a configuration file or via Java API. Each engine should have a name that is related to a tenant such that it can be identified based on the tenant. For example, each engine can be named after the tenant it serves. See the Process Engine Bootstrapping section for details.

Database Isolation

If different tenants should work on entirely different databases, they have to use different JDBC settings or different data sources.

Schema or Table Isolation

For schema- or table-based isolation, a single data source can be used which means that resources like a connection pool can be shared among multiple engines. To achieve this,

  • the configuration option databaseTablePrefix can be used to configure database access.
  • consider switching on the setting useSharedSqlSessionFactory. The setting controls whether each process engine instance should parse and maintain a local copy of the mybatis mapping files or whether a single, shared copy can be used. Since the mappings require a lot of heap (>30MB), it is recommended to switch this on. This way only one copy needs to be allocated.

Considerations for useSharedSqlSessionFactory setting

The useSharedSqlSessionFactory setting causes caching of the mybatis sql session factory in a static field, once built. When using this configuration setting, you need to be aware that

  • it can only be used if all process engines which use the setting share the same datasource and transaction factory
  • the reference in the field, once set, is never cleared. This is usually not a problem but if it is, users must clear the field manually by setting it to null explicitly via
ProcessEngineConfigurationImpl.cachedSqlSessionFactory = null

Job Executor for Multiple Process Engines

For background execution of processes and tasks, the process engine has a component called job executor. The job executor periodically acquires jobs from the database and submits them to a thread pool for execution. For all process applications on one server, one thread pool is used for job execution. Furthermore, it is possible to share the acquisition thread between multiple engines. This way, resources are still manageable even when a large amount of process engines are used. See the section The Job Executor and Multiple Process Engines for details.

Example Configuration for Schema Isolation

Multi-Tenancy settings can be applied in the various ways of configuring a process engine. The following is an example of a bpm-platform.xml file that specifies engines for two tenants that share the same database but work on different schemas:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<bpm-platform xmlns="http://www.camunda.org/schema/1.0/BpmPlatform"
              xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
              xsi:schemaLocation="http://www.camunda.org/schema/1.0/BpmPlatform http://www.camunda.org/schema/1.0/BpmPlatform">

  <job-executor>
    <job-acquisition name="default" />
  </job-executor>

  <process-engine name="tenant1">
    <job-acquisition>default</job-acquisition>
    <configuration>org.camunda.bpm.engine.impl.cfg.StandaloneProcessEngineConfiguration</configuration>
    <datasource>java:jdbc/ProcessEngine</datasource>

    <properties>
      <property name="databaseTablePrefix">TENANT_1.</property>

      <property name="history">full</property>
      <property name="databaseSchemaUpdate">true</property>
      <property name="authorizationEnabled">true</property>
      <property name="useSharedSqlSessionFactory">true</property>
    </properties>
  </process-engine>

  <process-engine name="tenant2">
    <job-acquisition>default</job-acquisition>
    <configuration>org.camunda.bpm.engine.impl.cfg.StandaloneProcessEngineConfiguration</configuration>
    <datasource>java:jdbc/ProcessEngine</datasource>

    <properties>
      <property name="databaseTablePrefix">TENANT_2.</property>

      <property name="history">full</property>
      <property name="databaseSchemaUpdate">true</property>
      <property name="authorizationEnabled">true</property>
      <property name="useSharedSqlSessionFactory">true</property>
    </properties>
  </process-engine>
</bpm-platform>

Deploy Definitions for a Tenant

When developing process applications, i.e., process definitions and supplementary code, some processes may be deployed to every tenant’s engine while others are tenant-specific. The processes.xml deployment descriptor that is part of every process application offers this kind of flexibility by the concept of process archives. One application can contain any number of process archive deployments, each of which can be deployed to a different process engine with different resources. See the section on the processes.xml deployment descriptor for details.

The following is an example that deploys different process definitions for two tenants. It uses the configuration property resourceRootPath that specifies a path in the deployment that contains process definitions to deploy. Accordingly, all the processes under processes/tenant1 on the application’s classpath are deployed to engine tenant1, while all the processes under processes/tenant2 are deployed to engine tenant2.

<process-application
  xmlns="http://www.camunda.org/schema/1.0/ProcessApplication"
  xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance">

  <process-archive name="tenant1-archive">
    <process-engine>tenant1</process-engine>
    <properties>
      <property name="resourceRootPath">classpath:processes/tenant1/</property>

      <property name="isDeleteUponUndeploy">false</property>
      <property name="isScanForProcessDefinitions">true</property>
    </properties>
  </process-archive>

  <process-archive name="tenant2-archive">
    <process-engine>tenant2</process-engine>
    <properties>
      <property name="resourceRootPath">classpath:processes/tenant2/</property>

      <property name="isDeleteUponUndeploy">false</property>
      <property name="isScanForProcessDefinitions">true</property>
    </properties>
  </process-archive>

</process-application>

Access the Process Engine of a Tenant

To access a specific tenant’s process engine at runtime, it has to be identified by its name. The Camunda engine offers access to named engines in various programming models:

  • Plain Java API: Via the ProcessEngineService any named engine can be accessed.
  • CDI Integration: Named engine beans can be injected out of the box. The built-in CDI bean producer can be specialized to access the engine of the current tenant dynamically.
  • Via JNDI on JBoss/Wildfly: On JBoss and Wildfly, every container-managed process engine can be looked up via JNDI.

The Camunda web applications Cockpit, Tasklist and Admin offer tenant-specific views out of the box by switching between different process engines.

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