Top 10 Serverless Backends for your Mobile App

As the demands of application development keep growing, most developers are looking towards backends that require less maintenance. Serverless backends are fast becoming a lot more popular as mobile application developers adopt them.

Many developers are witnessing better development outcomes and reduced hassle with serverless architecture offerings. It can be the best option to consider for your development requirements. Take a look at the information given below to gain further insight into these backends. Here is a summary of what you will learn:

  • Serverless overview
  • Serverless benefits
  • Types of serverless providers
  • The best ten serverless backend for a mobile app
  • Comparison table

You will also find some suggestions for the top 10 serverless backends for your mobile application.

What is Serverless? 

Serverless is a widely relied upon cloud-native development model that enables developers to create and run applications without server management.

Serverless does utilize servers, but these servers are not directly involved in application development. The tasks related to handling the maintenance, provisioning, and scaling of infrastructure do not have to be handled by developers. Application developers can easily enclose their code into containers for deployment purposes.

After deployment, serverless applications can automatically scale up and down resources based on demand. Serverless backends offered by public cloud providers generally work through an event-based execution model on an on-demand basis. Hence, developers do not have to pay when a serverless function is not being used.

Serverless has a fundamental difference compared to other cloud computing models, as a cloud service provider is tasked with cloud infrastructure management and application scaling. Containers contain the serverless applications that are launched automatically when the demand arises.

Users of an IaaS computing model are required to purchase capacity units in advance and pay depending on components necessary for running applications. Scaling up and down for this model is the user’s responsibility. Users of an IaaS backend have to keep a cloud infrastructure active despite the application not being used.

In comparison, serverless architecture is launched only when the requirement arises. An event directs app code to run, prompting the cloud service provider to allocate resources dynamically. Users stop paying when code execution is complete. Using a serverless backend also helps to reduce the burden of performing minor and repetitive tasks for management.

What are the benefits of serverless? 

Here are the main benefits of using a serverless architecture:

  • Faster Time to market

Due to the absence of operational demands, developers can manage to release applications faster. It also enables them to receive faster feedback and generate swifter iterations. 

  • Costs are lowered

The billing model for serverless backends is pay-as-you-go. As a result, users do not pay for overprovisioning, and their resource usage is also optimized.

  • Peak stability 

Serverless backends have technology that can scale from no to high demand automatically. It enables users to measure up to changing customer needs without delay. 

  • Easier to build applications

Serverless apps contain built-in integrations, enabling users to focus on creating an application rather than constantly tweaking it. 

Serverless Groups

Serverless is usually divided into two different categories.

BaaS – Backend as a Service

Backend as a service (BaaS) refers to a cloud computing model that functions as a platform offering developers the ways to establish connections between their applications and cloud services. It utilizes software developers’ kits (SDK) and application programming interfaces (API) for connecting applications to the cloud. In comparison to other cloud service models, BaaS is a newer option. BaaS is also known as MbaaS or mobile backend as a service. 

FaaS – Function as a Service

FaaS (Function as a Service) refers to one of the newest cloud models, preferred by many developers today. It is in the category of (Cloud Computing Services), offering users the capabilities to develop, run, and manage applications. Users can build apps without having to maintain sophisticated infrastructure and launch without hassle. Using FaaS helps users to experience truly serverless development. It is used widely for building microservices.

To know more about the differences between BaaS and FaaS, please read the article BaaS vs. FaaS | What are the differences.

The best 10 serverless backends for a mobile app

These are the best serverless backends for a mobile application:

Back4app

Back4App is an open-source backend as a service offering. Developers widely use it due to the high level of scalability and usability it offers. With Back4App, developers can achieve easy application development, management, and hosting. It is used to host mobile, web, and IoT applications.

Features 

  • Back4App provides a database that enables developers to develop, update, and synchronize application data with peak efficiency.
  • Back4App users can make use of both GraphQL and Rest APIs.
  • Live queries of Back4App enables developers to utilize queries, and perform real-time data sync and storage.
  • Back4App provides scalable hosting to let developers scale hosting based on requirements. 

Pricing 

  • Free – The starter plan offering 1 Gb storage and transfer, 10k requests, and a 250 Mb database for users. 
  • Shared – The Shared plan offers features like daily backup and recovery, auto-scaling, multiple regions, and 24×7 monitoring. Prices of this plan range between $5 to $100 per month.
  • Dedicated – The Back4App Dedicated plan features improved security, dedicated VMs, multiple cloud, and 24×7 monitoring. The Silver and Gold Dedicated plan variants are priced at $250 and $400 respectively. 

Firebase

Firebase is a popular BaaS provider offering a wide selection of API and backend features. It is a NoSQL database using a JSON document protocol for storing data. The level of fluid usability offered by Firebase has made it popular among many developers and businesses. Firebase minimizes the needs for server management and API creation. Users can also take advantage of several useful customization options with this backend. 

Features

  • Cloud Firestore – Cloud Firestore is a NoSQL cloud database used to store and sync data for server-side and client-side development. It can be utilized for mobile, web, and server development and syncing real-time data across applications. Firestore can be integrated with Google Cloud and Firebase. 
  • Real-time Database – Real-time database refers to a NoSQL cloud database that allows users to perform easy real-time storage and syncing data. Users can access the database even when the app is offline. Data within the real-time database is stored in the JSON format and synchronized across different clients. 
  • Machine Learning – Firebase offers users several machine learning features through Firebase ML and the ML Kit. These can help users stay on top of real-world scenarios. Firebase ML refers to a mobile SDK that fuels iOS and Android applications and, apart from offering Google ML features. 
  • Cloud Functions – Firebase Cloud Functions is a serverless application framework that enables users to run backend code in response to HTTPS requests and Firebase components. Cloud Functions perform Firebase platform integration and secure user logic. 

Pricing

  • Spark Plan – The Spark Plan is free and comes with 10 GB hosting, SSL, multiple sites, custom domain, and other features. Users of this plan can get access to several powerful features, including Cloud Firestone, authentications, Firebase ML, Test lab, real-time database, and storage. The Spark Plan features a handful of the Firebase platform’s offerings. 
  • Blaze Plan – The Firebase Blaze Plan is a requirement-based pricing model that provides all Spark features, along with some additional ones. Users can take advantage of hosting for $0.026/GB, and avail the same rate for per GB storage. The Firebase Blaze Plan takes away all the limitations of the Spark Plan. Users can easily calculate Blaze Plan pricing with Firebase’s Blaze Plan calculator. 

AWS Lambda

AWS Lambda refers to a serverless computing platform offering from the Amazon AWS stable. It is a backend service that executes code as event responses and carries out automatic computing resources management. Lambda is an ideal platform for developing small-scale and demand-specific applications that react to information and events.

Features

  • AWS Lambda users are able to create new application backends that can be called upon when the demand arises. 
  • Lambda features fault tolerance and can efficiently maintain capacity across several regions. 
  • Lambda lets users retrieve code when necessary, and its automatic scaling facilitates easy support for incoming requests. 

Pricing

The AWS Lambda pricing model varies based on parameters such as memory size (GB) and execution time (ms). Users are billed on compute charges calculated at $0.00001667/invocation and request charges calculated at $0.2/M <requests.

Kinvey 

Kinvey is a serverless application backend platform utilized for the development of cutting-edge multi-channel apps. It uses front-end SDKs and a cloud backend. Kinvey users can focus on developing and delivering quality user experiences, as pre-built components help improve productivity. This backend facilitates improved storage and data integration, offers secure file storage, and many advanced development features.

Features 

  • Kinvey offers its users a serverless backend that lets them focus on app functionality and user experience. 
  • Codesharing is a standout feature that enables users to create cross-platform applications and enables effortless code management. 
  • Kinvey lets its users perform comprehensive angular development and provides access to native APIs without any limitations.

Pricing 

  • Starter Bundles – Kinvey Starter Bundles include the Starter, priced at $2,500, the Starter Pro priced at $5,000, and the Starter Max priced at $7,500. 
  • Business – The Business plan is suitable for small organizations, and facilitates 3-developer access at a rate of $15,000/year. 
  • Enterprise – The Kinvey Enterprise plan is a need-specific pricing package, with useful features like round-the-clock support. 

Backendless 

Backendless is a widely-used application development platform preferred for the level of efficiency it offers to developers. It is an open-source MbaaS offering with several tools for speedy and hassle-free development. Backendless offers cloud-based dedicated and managed servers, and user-defined APIs for developers. 

Features 

  • Backendless comes with extensive support for databases. 
  • Caching is a feature enabling developers to enhance the speed of applications. 
  • Centralized log file management enables Backendless users to enhance the efficiency of applications.
  • The geolocation feature enables developers to create applications featuring location awareness with geofencing. 

Pricing

  • Backendless Cloud – The Cloud plan of Backendless provides ample API calls, scaling, push notifications, database tables, and more. Prices are in the range of $0 to $99 per month.
  • Backendless Pro – Backendless Pro plan users can use Backendless on computer, public cloud, and private data centers. 
  • Managed Backendless – The Managed plan of Backendless is a full-fledged plan with flexible requirements-based pricing. It does not come with any limitations and offers uptime guarantee for users. 

Google Cloud Functions 

Google Cloud Functions refers to a serverless execution environment for developing and connecting cloud services. They enable developers to create single-purpose functions connected to cloud infrastructure and services-related events. A Cloud Function gets triggered when a connected event is fired (or brought into action). Users do not need to perform infrastructure provisioning and server management with this serverless offering. 

Features

  • Serverless functionality helps developers focus on creating code rather than creating cloud infrastructure due to infrastructure automation. 
  • Google Cloud Functions also offers optimal scalability through automatic resource scaling based on changing demands. 

Pricing

Google Cloud Functions pricing depends on several factors, including memory value, the number of requests, utilized network data resources, and processor resources. Users can also avail of a free plan featuring 2 million calls, up to 5 GB egress per month, and more.

Azure Functions

Azure Functions is an event-driven serverless compute service that lets users run event-triggered code without infrastructure management or provisioning. It runs code or script in response to events. Azure Functions are known for their reliability and reusability.

Features

  • Developers can use a wide range of programming languages, including Java, PHP, Python, and Node.js. 
  • Easy-to-use web UI makes writing code easier for developers. Browser-based UI also helps to respond to events created by HTTP requests, event hubs, and table storage. 
  • It features a compute-on-demand model that makes resources accessible to users based on demand. The user does not have any concerns with the provisioning and management of resources. 

Pricing

  • Consumption plan: This Azure plan provides all required computational resources, and developers do not have to spend time on resource management. Users only pay for the duration for which the code runs. 
  • Premium plan: Users have to specify online pre-warmed instances for this plan. Azure Functions offers additional required computational resources when a function is running. Developers pay for continually running instances and any additionally required instances are scaled up or down by Azure Functions. 
  • App Service plan: The App Service plan lets users run functions like web apps. Functions run on the same plan for all applications without any extra cost. 

Cloudflare Workers

Cloudflare Worker is fundamentally a function deployment service for the needs of developers. It features a serverless execution environment that can be utilized for the effortless development and deployment of modular cloud functions. Cloudflare Worker projects can be managed with a tool called Wrangler. Wrangler provides all the traditional project generation elements, including templates, config, build, and publishing.

Features

  • Cloudflare Workers offers load balancing between multiple origins to enhance reliability and speed.
  • Developers can process HTML templates and retrieve dynamic content simultaneously.
  • Users can respond to requests without requiring a connection to an origin server.
  • Parallel requests can be generated across different services and combining responses. 
  • Users can create their own security rules and filters for blocking bots and visitors. 
  • Users can clean up and validate data before sending an origin request.

Pricing

Workers can be enabled for free, but some of the features are restricted. Users can also opt for the Workers Bundled plan for $5/month per account, which also gives them 10 million monthly requests. The Cloudflare Workers plan has to be paid for separately regardless of someone already being a user of Cloudflare Free, Professional or Business. 

Kuzzle 

Kuzzle is an open-source application development platform with a scalable server, API, admin console, and multiple plugins for search, geofencing, and other advanced features. It is used for mobile, web, and IoT application development.

Features 

  • Real-time pub/sub refers to a query language for creating event-driven applications. 
  • Kuzzle is an open-source offering which provides several innovative features for developers.
  • Kuzzle provides on-premises deployments and horizontal scaling. 

Pricing

  • Free – The Free plan from Kuzzle enables users to get started for free.
  • Managed cloud edition – The Managed cloud plan starts at a rate of $1200/month and provides multiple advanced features to users. 

Netlify 

Netlify provides developers a large selection of automation and web hosting offerings. It enables users to enhance static site setup along with fast hosting. Developers can easily drag and drop components onto the Netlify web application and enjoy GIT repository imports support. The platform lets users effortlessly reference specific GIT hosting branches.

Features

  • Branch deployment – Branch deployment enables deployment in branches, and lets users create branch features. It facilitates real environment tests and reviews. Users can generate branch-specific deployments. 
  • Contextual build commands – Netlify PaaS lets users utilize contextual development commands. These commands make custom development a lot simpler. 
  • Free SSL – Netlify lets developers set up free SSL which renews every year. It offers easy custom domain setups with custom SSL, dedicated SSL and managed SSL. 

Pricing

  • Starter – The Starter plan of Netlify is free for individual use. It features 100GB bandwidth per month, with add-on features, and continuous deployment.
  • Pro – The Netlify Pro package is priced at $45/month. It is fundamentally a team plan providing access to up to 3 members and features 400GB of bandwidth/month, 1000 monthly build minutes, and more. 
  • Business – The Netlify Business package starts from $1500 per month. It can be accessed by more than 5 team members, offers several SLA-driven performance perks, and upwards of 600GB bandwidth/month.

Serverless Backends | Comparison Table

ProviderCategoryFeaturesPricing
Back4appBaaS– Scalable Database
– REST and GraphQL APIs
– Notifications
– Free
– Shared hosting at $5 per month
– Dedicated hosting at $250 per month
FirebaseBaaS– Realtime database
– Analytics
– Storage
– Free
– Pay as you go
AWS LambdaFaaS– Custom logic
– Autoscaling
– Integrations
– Free
– Pay as you go
KinveyBaaS– Microservices
– Enterprise Integrations
– Scalable hosting
– Free trial
– Pricing starts at $2,500/year
BackendlessBaaS– Visual programming
– Realtime database
– Notifications
– Free
– Plans at $25/mo
Google Cloud FunctionsFaaS– Autoscaling
– Monitoring
– Built-in security
– Free
– Pay as you go
Azure FunctionsFaaS– Autoscaling
– End to end experience
– Multiple programming languages
– Free
– Pay as you go
Cloud Flare WorkersFaaS– Built in edge storage
– CLI
– Autoscaling
– Free
– Pay as you go
KuzzleBaaS– Scalable server
– Multiprotocol API
– Geofencing
– Free
– $1200/mo
NetlifyFaaS– Build
– Functions
– Edge
– Free
– Paid plans at $19/mo

Conclusion 

The serverless backend options mentioned above all offer multiple features and benefits to consider. Incorporating any of them can make a marked difference in your application development and deployment outcomes. Get in touch with a reputed software consultant to gain further insight and make the right choice.

FAQ

What is serverless?

Serverless is a widely relied upon cloud-native development model that enables developers to create and run applications without server management.

What are the benefits of serverless?

– Faster time to market
– Lower costs
– Peak stability

What are the best serverless backends?

– Back4app
– Firebase
– Lambda
– Backendless
– Kinvey
– Azure Functions
– Google Cloud Functions
– Cloudflare Workers
– Kuzzle
– Netlify


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