Multi-Tenancy Testing Challenges: Top 7 to Keep in Mind

Are you designing software made for multiple tenants?

Is that software designed to work on a single server? If so, you might need to perform a multi-tenancy test.

Multi-tenant software exists everywhere. They can be as simple as cloud software. Or, they can be more sophisticated (as in specially-designed servers for companies). Such software tends to run multiple operations at once. And they do so across remote distances.

And as with any form of software, QA services are necessary. This is what we’ll explore below, by mentioning 7 factors to keep in mind!

But before we start…

Testing Goals

There are 3 components that get checked in a multi-tenant test. Those would be

  • Application.
  • Infrastructure.
  • Network.

We’ll briefly explore each one before getting to the challenges of testing.


They are the main component of the multi-tenant program. This is what’s usually tested thoroughly upon launch and with each update.

Here, the focus is on checking both configurable and non-configurable components. Many scenarios are designed, where multiple tenants are brought in to check basic functions.

From here, changes are noted between tenants. Also, the application’s functionality is checked, depending on the number of tenants accessing it.

A security test is also required for the application.

Usually, multi-tenant apps are meant for isolated use within a specific group. So protocols for access privilege, malware, and unauthorized access should be checked.


This is the hardware that holds multi-tenant software. The hardware’s capacity should match the software’s intended use. Proper infrastructure affects access speed, loading times, data storage and transmission, and backup protocols.

Good infrastructure means that a system isn’t down when it’s needed. And this matters, especially if the infrastructure is meant to work in certain timeframes (like daytime banking).


Network testing usually implies security tests. Most breaches occur when the data flow between users isn’t encrypted.

Here, a good encryption/decryption is needed (SSL is an example). And it should be tested thoroughly, ensuring that it can function over different bandwidths.

Testing goals aside, we’ll discuss the 7 challenges of testing in-depth.

#1 – Simulating Live Upgrade Tests

When testing a multi-tenant application, there’s usually downtime. This can be anywhere from a few minutes to multiple hours ‚Äì depending on the server size.

Downtime usually occurs when major upgrades are made to an application. But with minor ones, upgrades should be done live.


A tester should ensure that live upgrades come with minimal downtime. This is difficult, as users may access the application while it is upgrading.

Thus, a tester should prepare a good deployment strategy/plan. And it must be tested in a staging environment through quality control personnel (QC).

Proper deployment strategies should be prepared in conjunction with the development team, client and QC.

#2 – App Upgrades

Any software gets an eventual upgrade. It may be for new functions that a company or team needs. Or it may be for improved performance.

This is usually easy when designing an app meant for single users. But when multiple tenants are involved, a need for variety arises.

How So?

An update that one tenant needs might not be needed by others.

User experience is a factor here. Certain features that feel comfortable to a tenant might not work for another.

This includes visual features, or functional ones like power consumption, file organization, etc.

Thus, when testing an app, it’s necessary to ensure that new features aren’t mandatory. They should be optional for each tenant.

The solution for this is to use automated testing tools (such as Selenium or QTP).

By using automation tools, you can do regression testing faster. You can discover the best ways to implement updates that aren’t intrusive.

Plus, automation makes it easier to test a variety of possible updates – which saves time for business software.

#3 – Security and Privacy Testing

Security, accessibility, and privacy concerns are basic testing points in any software design projects. But it applies more so to multi-tenancy testing…

Multi-tenancy is based on sharing resources. The data transmitted between tenants should be as secure and private as possible.

Testing for that can be done through simulation. A tester can access the app and simulate users of different tenants (with different sets of privileges).

Also, protocols should be set in place to prevent SQL injection. Cookies are another testing point for multi-tenant apps.

Important Notes

Sometimes, customers may demand upgrades that cause increased risks of security breaches. Those may include better accessibility, multiple device use, and easier password settings.

Speaking of encryption, the data must be tested to ensure increased security among many tenants.

Also, tightened authorization and authentication should be used when applicable. They may include visual identification, secret questions, or frequent forced password changes.

#4 – Business Knowledge and Domain

Software has differing requirements by intended use. That is when designing (and testing) a multi-tenant app, industry necessity should be considered.


An app designed for bank employees differs from one designed for a store’s customer service department.

The features differ. The privileges assigned to each tenant differ (since hierarchies depend on what a specific department/business does, etc.)

There’s also the infrastructure. Is it equipped to handle the intended daily use for the long-term?


Setting in stone the specs of the software is a good start. The same applies to the hardware required to power the servers.

Also, testing by experienced individuals is a necessity. They should have a background in the industry (and preferably the jobs) that are served by the network.

#5 – Interface Testing

Updates are always available for app interfaces. They’re necessary for changes in system requirements. They’re also necessary for added functions that customers may demand.

However, it’s necessary to ensure that there’s backward compatibility with previous versions.

It’s important to ensure that updates aren’t forced for tenants who lack upgraded systems requirements.

There should be a minimum requirement for using specific multi-tenant software (which should be publicized to possible future tenants).

#6 – Scalability and Performance

Tenants usually don’t share the same resources and hardware use. The level of use by one tenant might greatly exceed another.

Thus, an application’s performance should be scalable, while performing well with the resources it has. And this should be done in a way where a tenant’s use of resources shouldn’t affect the other tenants’ performance.

Performance and scalability can be tested using tools such as JMeter and Load Runner.

#7 – Data Isolation

There are often shared files accessed by multiple tenants on the same software.

When testing, it’s necessary to make those files as visible (and accessible) as possible. Plus, this should be done in a way where it doesn’t cause security issues.

Thus, the shared database must be tested. And what must be looked at is the ability to customize databases in a way that doesn’t affect other tenants.

Another factor is file accessibility. Certain files should be accessible to people based on their privileges.

In Conclusion

Most multi-tenancy testing issues have to do with synchronicity and intended use.

Software should be designed, tested, and upgraded without ruining the user experience. Plus, it should be in a way where shared info doesn’t leak out to unintended sources.

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