Parse Self-hosting or hosting provider ?
Given the fact that Parse will be permanently shuttered on January 28, 2017, you have two options to host your apps.
1. Setting up the self-hosted Parse Server and then releasing a new app pointing to it
2. Migrating to a cloud hosting company that can provide Parse hosting service
There are pros and cons of each of these options. Here I discuss a few of them which may help you choose the better of the two that best suits you.
Advantages of Parse hosting services
Most small-to-medium-sized companies do not have the resources to provide the level of reliability and redundancy that organizations that provide Parse hosting can afford. Unless you are hosting source code for a top-secret defense project or other projects where the threat of espionage is very real, the greatest threats to your code and your business are more mundane things compared to server or network downtime.
Parse hosting services provide levels of redundancy that most companies just cannot obtain on their own. It includes data redundancy (back-ups/RAID), hardware redundancy (components/equipment), and geographical redundancy (multiple server locations across the globe).
Each small business by itself cannot afford 24/7 support staff and expensive equipment. But pooling their resources together through a Cloud service provides them access to a much higher level of service through centralization, better resource utilization and higher efficiency.
Centralizing the data of thousands of businesses allows security resources to be much more tightly focused. There may be options such as co-location and dedicated hosting. Some service providers may enable customers to configure their server however they want, install and run whatever applications they want on it.
The back-end in Parse hosting services is often user-friendly and is built keeping in mind users with limited technical knowledge. They have a strong tech-support team to assist users with any issues that may arise. Time-tested and well-supported infrastructures are provided and excellent deployment models make distribution and scaling the applications easier and more cost-effective. These can be leveraged for cloud deployment and also give portability options. Users only have to create the app or migrate an existing one with easy options like migration wizard and start making the requests. Some solutions provide Parse Server and Parse Dashboards and many other extended features.
Infrastructure design and cost
Users don’t have to worry about how much memory or CPU or storage is needed. The Parse hosting service can take care of the entire infrastructure and scale the app as it was in parse.com. With the increasing competition, there are services that do not set request per sec limit. Because they are not providing a single server for you, but a hosting solution, they can optimize your server usage and offer the most affordable plans in the market.
We would all have loved to continue to use Parse as a service for years to come. While the shutdown of Parse itself is causing some short-term pain, the long-term benefit of having Parse Server available to the community may surpass any of our expectations. As there are many already leveraging the open source to enhance features, we can only expect the competition between the Parse hosting services to provide more and more enhancements that can overpower the advantages that were seen in Parse earlier.
Disadvantages of hosted Parse services
Companies need to think through concerning relying on a SaaS solution, as it creates dependency upon systems that lie outside their control. Parse was the obvious choice to accelerate production of MVPs, small to medium scale applications, or specific features of large scale applications. For large custom applications, building your own server stack may be worth the extra time and effort.
Loss of trust
As users have already experienced what happened with Parse (even after a trusted Facebook took over Parse), it would rather be difficult to trust any other Parse hosting service provider. There is always a fear that these service providers could at some point go out of business for some reason and the users are back to square one. Also since they are all new to the business, the users may find it difficult to pick the right service providers who would provide a reliable service. It requires some time for the new companies to establish and gain customer’s faith.
The difference with Parse was that it attracted more developers because of its easy-to-use and well-documented SDKs, highly competitive (often free) pricing, intuitive backend portal, and its ability to handle everything (e.g. cloud computing, push services, user authentication, etc.) with very little configuration or setup. Parse users may find it difficult to start using other hosting solutions; because of the effort involved in getting used to the changed environment.
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If you have a large application that is mission critical or is strategic to your company to keep locally, you may prefer to self-host your Parse server instance. This way you maintain complete control and can leverage it as a competitive advantage. It also frees your application and your business from dependence on another company. You are in control of all aspects of your infrastructure. You have a choice of choosing your own decisions like maintaining data on-site for higher security.
Time and resource availability
You still have time for the Parse to shut down completely. So you can use that time to build your Parse hosting system. Parse has offered detailed guidelines on how you can go about it and there is the Parse community dedicated to helping you on this. People everywhere are jumping in to make Parse Server even better, easier to use, and simpler to scale. The community has discussed features, reported bugs, and helped each other resolving around 500 issues. It’s a testament to how important Parse has been to the app development community, along with the Parse team’s incredibly generous approach to the shutdown. Providing a one-year runway, open sourcing all of the code, and working with the community through this transition is pretty much unfounded.
The addition of advanced functionalities that you require would be possible in the case of self-hosted platforms. Being self-hosted you do not have a limit to the number of apps or APIs or requests so they can handle much larger as well as sophisticated codes.
One reason many developers chose Parse was because they didn’t want to setup and maintain a server. Parse.com coupled two aspects of what’s known as a backend into one: the server and database. The server, which manipulates the database, performs queries, fetches information and other work-intensive tasks interacting with the database. The two work hand-in-hand to form a backend. With Parse going away, we must deal with the server and database separately. Some extra effort is required to secure data.
In addition to coding your app or API, you need to know how to set up and maintain your own server. You should also be aware of how to deal with data security and you should be capable of supporting your own server. You do not get the luxury of a support team who would be there for you to resolve those performance or any other server-related issues. In case of larger organizations, it may require to employ more experts to deal with hosting the Parse server.
You may be aware of these technologies and may be willing to work on them, but you need time to do all that. It is not a day’s job to host your own server and migrate Parse apps onto it. It depends on how critical your application is and how huge it is. If you have a time-critical app that cannot wait for you till you complete all the backend tasks, it is better to go for a Parse hosting service provider who would do the job for you and you can continue the app development as that is your priority. You would also save your time required to customize your app so that it fits into an entirely new technology-based server when you choose a Parse hosting service where you need to do only minimal code changes. If you have a large app, it becomes harder to afford time and manpower in migration tasks.
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