How to Decide If Multisite Architecture is the Right Choice for Your Enterprise





Building and managing multiple websites within an enterprise can quickly become a complex undertaking. Slower website builds, higher operational overheads and the lack of scalability, visibility and control are just some of the challenges organizations may face.
What enterprises need is a way to streamline and bring order to this chaos. They need to bring standardization, optimal processes and centralized governance without impacting the operational autonomy of the different sites.


Enter multisite architecture.


Multisite architecture: A closer look

Multisite architecture is a system that allows different websites to run on a single codebase. The sites share a set of common resources and standardized elements, while still retaining the independence to manage certain other aspects. The deployment usually comes in the form of a centralized platform that offers all the shared resources, defining and maintaining a superset of functionality that provides flexibility and efficiency.





For businesses running multiple websites, a multisite architecture approach delivers some valuable benefits:
  1. Faster time-to-market: Most multisite architecture deployments have a repository of reusable components that can be deployed to create new sites with the required features and functionalities. These components are standardized and created with performance best practices in mind, so every new site across the brand is guaranteed consistency and performance.
  2. Simplified content management: Easy and seamless editorial workflows are one of the highlights of a multisite architecture. Once created, content can be shared across all sites and independent editorial teams can choose to publish it on their sites with a few clicks. Multisite architecture also allows editorial teams to stay closely in sync with timely notifications of any changes introduced to the content, without the need to collaborate over multiple channels.
  3. Cost efficiencies: Having a multisite architecture saves your business unlocks cost efficiency in a few ways:
  • Eliminates the duplicative efforts involved when independent website teams build their sites from scratch. Reusable components and shared resources (server, database and codebase) keep website development costs low.
  • Costs for licensing and hosting multiple websites are eliminated.


  1. Brand consistency: Independent website teams often build websites that look and operate differently, sometimes missing the mark on a consistent brand experience. However, because multisite architecture provides a standard set of modules and themes, or a basic site template to replicate, the user experience across different brand websites can be kept consistent.
  2. Easy maintenance: A common site architecture allows an organization to add new modules and update or replace existing modules. With a unified multisite platform, visibility, access and control of your sites are streamlined. Easy maintenance ultimately leads to better site experiences for your audience.
  3. Upgrade only once: Multisite is particularly useful for managing the site code since each upgrade needs to be done only once. This saves a lot of time, particularly for organizations managing many websites.


When do you need multisite architecture?

There are several scenarios in which brands manage multiple websites and would benefit from a unified platform architecture. Here’s a look at why a multisite architecture is beneficial in these situations:
  • Different sub-brands: An enterprise with a parent brand site and separate sub-brands ideally wants to have a different look and feel for each site. However, there is still a lot of common content that needs to be shared across sites and the disparate sites may need similar functionalities. A multisite architecture is designed to meet these needs while streamlining site management.
  • Multilingual and multi-regional sites: Multisite architecture is perfect for a global enterprise that wants to showcase a single site in different languages or regions with minor content variations. With multisite architecture, creating and launching sites in different languages takes a matter of days rather than months, and each new site works exactly like the parent site. This also applies to other business models that need near-identical yet separate websites, all of which can be quickly launched and managed with multisite.
  • Content-heavy sites: While your content might be getting the right traction, a single site may not be ready to handle all the traffic, adversely impacting the user experience and site rankings. This is especially true for media sites that publish a high volume of content daily. Breaking the content into separate sites, intranets and wikis, all managed on a multisite platform, is a more efficient option.


When is multisite architecture not the right option?

While there are many benefits to multisite architecture, it may not be the right solution for every enterprise with multiple websites. Here are a few considerations to determine whether multisite architecture may not be the best solution:
  • Distinctly different websites: Multisite runs on the premise that multiple websites within an organization will have certain things in common. However, if you have individual sites that are completely different from each other – serve different purposes, have no common content or functionalities and are visually distinct – then a multisite architecture does not make business sense. These sites are best maintained independently to leverage their full potential.
  • Heavy expected server load: Because multisite has many sites hosted on a single environment, an unexpected spike in one site may impact the performance of all other sites. So, in cases where each site needs to maintain a certain level of uptime and performance, it’s crucial to evaluate the potential for sudden traffic spikes. If that is a possibility, then a multisite setup may not be the best solution.


Opting for multisite is a major business decision and it must be considered carefully. Business scenarios should be considered and evaluated to understand how multisite can be beneficial, or if it’s not the right fit.
If you decide that a multisite architecture is the right solution for your organization, the next step is to determine if Drupal is the right content management system (CMS) to support it. Drupal is the leading multisite architecture CMS and has numerous benefits when deployed effectively.
Planning to opt for multisite architecture but not sure where to begin? Talk to our experts and discover how several global enterprises including ICSTI have benefited from our services. We understand the business and technological nuances involved in a large scale, multi-site setup and have the expertise to help you successfully navigate the discovery, development and deployment phases of the project.