BaaS Cloud? A step by step guide

BaaS Cloud? A step by step guide

Introduction – What is a BaaS Cloud?

This article will provide an Overview of Backend-as-a-Service or BaaS Cloud.

The terms Backend-as-a-Service (BaaS) and Mobile Backend-As-A-Service (MBaaS) are both referring to the same concept.  It describes a service that enables developers to connect mobile and web-based applications to backend cloud service. Besides storage, BaaS also provides additional services such as user management, integration with social networks, and push notifications, among many others. For complete list of BaaS features, please read here.

Technology analysts often describe BaaS as a readymade infrastructure for web and mobile apps. The major stakeholders of BaaS are companies (Startups or Enterprises) that provide resources that make it easy for developers to expedite web and mobile application development. Such resources include server infrastructure, Software Development Kits, Application Programming Interface (APIs), useful protocols, and tools for application development.


Application Development on BaaS and MBaaS clouds

Using a BaaS cloud will help developers to solve two main challenges:

  • Shorten the timeline to deliver software projects
  • Infrastructure scalability

Faster software projects and reduced time to market

All application developers are faced with the challenge of developing and deploying projects within a tight project timeline. Moreover, the needs of consumers are increasing by the day, and competition among app developers is getting tougher.  The fact that both devices and operating systems get faster upgrades than before puts more pressure on developers to create updates for their apps on time.

Given all the challenges, developing mobile and web applications, the traditional way is no longer effective. An excellent cloud solution is required to meet the demand for speed to the market. Backend as a Service provides this type of solution for developers. It allows the developers to create apps fast, manage server resources, and scale the application seamlessly when the need arises.

Developers only need to program API connections while using Backend as a Service for application development. The vendors provide SDKs so that the developers can have access to programming libraries, such as those required to connect a smartphone to the database server. Given the fact that the Backend as a Service provider has established robust infrastructure, the developers can focus their attention on logic programming.  The integration of apps with platform data and other services becomes seamless, negating the need for manual integration altogether.

Scalable and Managed Infrastructure

The scalability of server infrastructure is another challenge developers face. However, with a Backend as a Service, the burden of ensuring scalability lies on the service provider. They make sure the infrastructure upgrades are available once the app starts to scale.

Client-Side vs. Server-Side

Client Side vs. Server Side

Mobile apps and some web apps depend heavily on interconnected layers, which play important roles in the app functions. These two layers are:

  • The Client-Side: This is commonly referred to as the frontend. It consists of the UI and UX elements. This is the interface visual interface where the user performs computing tasks.
  • The Server-Side: This is commonly called the backend. It consists of the database and functions for user management and data processing. This is where all cloud infrastructures such as push notification, master and slave data storage, load balancer, database table, and security functions such as OAuth.

Backend as a Service allows the developer to focus on the client-side layer programming while the backend and its functions are managed by the BaaS service provider.

Who uses a BaaS?

Backend as a Service provider could either offer consumer BaaS or enterprise BaaS. While the consumer-oriented service provider focuses on supporting lightweight apps, custom apps, and games, the enterprise service provider supports business-critical data for enterprise systems.  Although the BaaS industry is still young, it has gained traction very fast.

The Advantages of Backend as a Service

Both web and mobile applications require basically the same features, such as push notifications, social media integrations, and cloud storage. To use these services, the programmer needs to connect the app through an application programming interface (API). Getting such codes up and running is complex and time-consuming for developers.

However, it all becomes easy with Backend as a Service providers because they provide developers the necessary tools required to connect the frontend to the backend service they need.  These tools are usually in the form of APIs and SDKs.  Very soon, the API-powered BaaS approach to accessing vital third-party functions will become commonplace. Users will leverage the user-friendly interface to design platform-specific applications. Such APIs will have reusable features such as push notifications, social media integration, location services, file storage/sharing, messaging systems, chat functions, user management, business logic, and analytics.

BaaS allows developers to implement all these functions into their applications irrespective of the operating system of the client device, be it Android or iOS.  These reusable services will benefit frontend development in several ways.  Besides expediting application development, it will also add enhanced security without reinventing the wheel.  Here is a list of some of the benefits of Backend as a Service.

  1. Enhanced Accessibility

The fact that several applications are using the same technology allows operability across multiple platforms. In essence, it makes it easier for apps to share data, use cloud services, and enhance the overall user experience.

  1. Scalable and Manageable

Since BaaS provides multiple features, the developer to simply choose the feature they need and scale it when the need arises. Moreover, because the BaaS platform uses a unified standard, the application can be managed easily by another developer when the need arises.

  1. No More Hassles with Stack Development

One of the best advantages is that developers no longer have to waste time messing up with stack development for every project. Since the BaaS provides the underlying technology for performing relevant tasks and the APIs required to access them. Therefore, application developers can simply focus on leveraging the BaaS resources at their disposal to create the functions that they need.

To know more about the BaaS benefits, please read:BaaS Benefits

What Can You Achieve with a BaaS?

While BaaS has excellent features for development for mobile platforms, the developer can use it to achieve a wide range of objectives.  An overview of possible BaaS usage scenarios is discussed below.

Mobile Application Development

Many of the core functions of BaaS aligns with mobile application development. In fact, many of the BaaS platforms are optimized for mobile development.  For instance, features such as geolocation, social media sharing, integration with other apps, and many other features are mobile-oriented.

Here are some real-life application examples that are using a BaaS backend:

Web Development

Although Backend as a Service is often used for mobile development, the many excellent features can be applied for building web-based applications as well.

Here is a real-life app example that is using a BaaS Cloud.

Launch GraphQL and REST APIs

A BaaS Cloud will assist developers in launching API in a more scalable manner. It is typical for BaaS platforms to provide user-friendly API frameworks (GraphQL and REST) as an integral part of their data and object stores.  Therefore, BaaS provides a quick way to launch APIs and other resources required by application developers. Therefore, the resources that web and mobile application developers need to achieve their objectives are readily available on BaaS platforms.

Although the available functions in a BaaS depend largely on the service provider. However, many of these platforms have common features that they implement in their unique ways. Today, cloud applications are placing an emphasis on stability and scalability. That is why common resources were integrated into APIs to make it easy for developers to build and host applications on the cloud.

Shortfalls of BaaS and Facts for Developers

Although application developers enjoy lots of benefits from using Backend as a Service.  However, developers need to be aware of a few facts to make development on BaaS platforms hassle-free.  Here are the issues you need to know.

The APIs and SDKs Builds Should Be Uniform

The developers who are creating a BaaS platform should be mindful that the continuity of APIs and SDKs is essential. In essence, developers should be able to use backend tools repeatedly and consistently in the same fashion. It could be frustrating if users of the platform have to learn to code the APIs every time you release a new version. The API users should only learn it once and use it continuously for multiple projects.

Frontend Development Should Align with BaaS Functions

In contrast to mobile-first development systems, BaaS demands that the developer build their apps around the available functions. So, the developers do not have to develop their own stack for every app they build. Having that in mind, BaaS development relies strongly on the APIs and SDKs available on the platform.

Data is Essential in BaaS Development

Bear in mind that the concept of BaaS development uses an API backend that follows the data first and coding later principle. That is why the API that provides the data should be central to application development on Backend as a Service platforms.  For instance, there are lots of data-related configurations that should be made. You have to decide who can access the data and how the app will handle the data transaction.  Such decisions are essential to app security by ensuring the data is available to the right users and also properly encrypted.

The Security and Logic Aligns to the Client

Given the last issue discussed, most of the logic involved while developing applications on BaaS platforms depends on the client.  The BaaS service delegates most of the responsibility to the client device. Besides, while using API for development, one should bear in mind that the client may be operating in an untrusted environment. That is why SSL and OAuth should always be used.

Backend as a Service Market Size

The global market value of the Backend as a Service industry will cross the $30 billion benchmark by 2020.  The significant increase in the app-driven economy is expected to give a significant boost to this industry. As mobile apps start to deliver unprecedented economic value, they will become indispensable across all facets of society. Very soon, BaaS will emerge as the market driver for the app-based economy.  That is why it is essential for developers, investors in tech startups, and managers to understand BaaS and the value it brings to the table.

List with Backend as a Service Companies

  1. Back4App
  2. Parse
  3. Backendless
  4. Kinvey
  5. AWS Amplify
  6. Firebase
  7. Kuzzle
  8. Azure Mobile Apps

A Final Note

Backend as a Service brings lots of value to the table.  It makes the procedure of app development less tedious, faster, and accessible on multiple platforms. However, you need to understand the basic concept of Backend as a Service, whether you are considering developing one by yourself or using a service provider. You also need to know how to leverage such a BaaS platform for your application development. The uniform design feature of BaaS gives you the advantage of cost efficiency and faster project turnaround.

Would you like to know more about Backend as a Service? Please read the complete tutorial below:

BaaS | Backend as a Service

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