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MS-MT Technical implementation

This section describes how the MS-MT feature works and can be skipped if only interested in setting up an MS-MT Alfresco Process Services.

The MS-MT feature depends on this fundamental architecture:

  • There is one "primary datasource"

    • The configurations of the tenants is stored here (for example their data source configuration).

    • The user to tenant mapping is stored here (although this can be replaced by custom logic).

    • The "Tenant Manager" user is stored here (as this user doesn’t belong to any tenant).

  • There are x data sources

    • The tenant specific data is stored here.

    • For each tenant, a datasource configuration similar to a single tenant datasource configuration needs to be provided.

    • For each tenant datasource, a connection pool is created.

  • When a request comes in, the tenant is determined.

    • A tenant identifier is set to a threadlocal (making it available for all subsequent logic executed next by that thread).

    • The com.activiti.database.TenantAwareDataSource switched to the correct tenant datasource based on this threadlocal.

The following diagram visualizes the above points: when a request comes in, the security classes for authentication (configured using Spring Security) will kick in before executing any logic. The request contains the userId. Using this userId, the primary datasource is consulted to find the tenantId that corresponds with it (note: this information is cached in a configurable way so the primary datasource is not hit on every request. But it does mean that user removals from a tenant can take a configurable amount of time to be visible on all nodes). This does mean that in MS-MT mode, there is a (very small) overhead on each request which isn’t there in the default mode.

The tenantId is now set on a threadlocal variable (mimicking how Spring Security and its SecurityContext works). If the value is ever needed, it can be retrieved through the method.

When the logic is now executed, it will typically start a new database transaction. In MS-MT mode, the default DataSource implementation is replaced by the com.activiti.database.TenantAwareDataSource class. This implementation returns the datasource corresponding with the tenantId value set on the threadlocal. The logic itself remains unchanged.


The MS-MT feature does have a technical impact on some other areas too:

  • All default caches (process, forms, apps, script files, …) cache based on the db id as key. In MS-MT mode, the db id is not unique over tenants and the cache switches to a cache per tenant implementation.

  • Event processing (for analytics) by default polls the database for new events which needs to be sent to Elastic Search. In MS-MT mode, the events for each tenant datasource are polled.

  • The Process Engine job executor (responsible for timers and async continuations) polls the database for new jobs to execute. In MS-MT mode, this polling needs to happen for each tenant datasource.

  • The Hibernate id generator keeps by default a pool of identifiers for each entity primary key in memory. Hibernate keeps the lastest id stored in a database table. In MS-MT mode however, there should be a pool for each tenant and the id generator needs to use the correct tenant datasource for refreshing the pool of ids.

  • A similar story applies for the Process Engine id generator.

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