Mobile backend as a service(MBaaS), are cloud-based backend systems, which hosts components(libraries, APIs) required for the rapid development and deployment of mobile applications.
These architectures reduce the time and complexity in the development and allows companies to focus on the core features and user experience instead of server configuration and common functionality like storage, notification, social integration, security, and analytics.
Some major players in Mobile Backend as a Service(MBaaS) market:
P.S. The widely popular MBaaS, Parse by Facebook, has been shut down by Jan 2017. It is now available on Github, but Facebook doesn’t provide any support.
We’re analyzing their functionality, compatibility, scalability scope for the startups and enterprises to make a better decision.
Firebase has a cloud hosted, real-time, NoSQL backend with the integration with Rest APIs for fast and secure processing. They use SSL encryption, and authenticated login interface for security, testing lab for smooth deployment, and crash reporting functions to minimize the downtime.
They replicate and backed up all the data stored in cloud server at different locations. However, Enterprises which are operating in the compliance with HIPAA and other regulations, where you can’t store data outside of host country, have to look at other MBaaS vendors.
Firebase offers the libraries for almost every mobile client (iOS, Android, Windows, Hybrid) and can be integrated with unsupported libraries with the help of Rest API. Firebase is also compatible with Ruby, Node.js, Python, Java, Clojure, PHP for feature enhancements.
Mobile apps built on the firebase, works offline, as they use the app data saved in local storage as a cache for the data stored in the cloud.
Firebase is good for startups, and it’s getting better day by day.
Some notable apps running on Firebase: Skyscanner, PicCollage, and Pocketcasts.
Unlike Google, Amazon developed the mobile SDK, bundled with their cloud services to offer the back end infrastructure for enterprises and large scale applications. The SDK includes Lambda, S3, DynamoDB, Mobile Analytics and more.
The Lambda offers serverless computing to manage and run your codes in real time, and it can handle thousands of requests per second.
DynamoDB is where you can store user identities, data, credentials which can sync in real time across different applications and devices. Their SDK supports iOS, Android, Xamarin, React Native, and Unity apps as of now.
Similar to Firebase, Amazon has its own analytics system to collect the application usage data and provide insightful reports. They also have an option to export the analytics for any specific event or component.
Moreover, AWS have integration with Google and Apple cloud server to send a push notification to Android and iPhones.
Amazon also uses rest API to make calls to third-party libraries; however, they enhance the security by deploying strong firewall to validate the access.
Organizations who’re using AWS for their apps running: Netflix, Tinder, Hike, etc.
Before we start, you should have a look at this: An Introduction to Microsoft Azure
Microsoft Azure host their Back-end infrastructure on public clouds, with data centers in more than 20 regions around the world. Enterprises and startups can develop and deploy mobile applications seamlessly, especially those with HIPAA and other regulations.
Having a direct competition with AWS, Azure offers similar features like Native and Hybrid application development, push notification, user authentication, offline data sync, autoscaling. But, additionally:
User authentication and single sign-on(SSO) with Azure active directory.
Secure connection to renowned resources to SAP, Oracle, SQL Server, and SharePoint.
PhoneGap, Sencha, and Appcelerator clients and Xamarin compatibility to build Native and hybrid applications.
Hybrid cloud server, through a connection between Azure and your data center, to access mobile services on your on-premise SQL server, table storage or MongoDB.
P.S. Azure uses SQL database where AWS and Firebase have NoSQL database. NoSQL and SQL, both works fine; however SQL data design is preferable for clean version tracking and timestamps, which help with smooth data query.
Organizations like NBC News, TalkTalk, Intertek are using Azure as their backend.
Kinvey is the only vendor to hold a patent in the BaaS market; they offer a complete and advanced platform to build, deploy, scale and secure your mobile application. Kinvey is also compatible with web applications, but for now, I’m only focusing on the mobile part.
Kinvey supports a wide range of application client including HTML5, AngularJS, Backbone.js, Node.js, PhoneGap and it provides REST API for unsupported application clients. And, For the Native and Hybrid applications, they provide native toolkit support for organizations to build and scale rapidly.
Kinvey has brought some inspirations from Azure and offers authorization for active directory tools like Salesforce, Dropbox, etc. They support all kind of databases, no matter which one you own. In addition, they provide iBeacon support for iOS applications only.
On the other side, They have limited the integration of location and social based APIs due to massive data creation on the server side. Also, there is some additional configuration at the Google cloud messaging (for Android) and Apple cloud messaging (for iOS) needed in order to implement push notification into your application.
We have covered most of the aspect on choosing a mobile backend platform. However, you need to thoroughly evaluate your needs and their capabilities before making a final decision.
About the Author:
A thought leader, Jignesh leads Simform’s mobile app development team by DevOps Institutionalisation, end-to-end product development and consulting lead.