Mobile Backend as a Service

Mobile Backend as a Service

Do you know that every frontend feature you see in an app is driven by a set of services at the backend? Developers invested lots of effort into creating these complex backend functions and present a user-friendly interface to users.  In recent times, companies are switching to backend as a service (BaaS) platforms for handling backend infrastructure and programming.  This approach negates the need to perform backend coding or infrastructure management. Thereby saving costs and expediting project delivery. 

What is a mBaaS?

Backend as a service (BaaS) is often referred to as or Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS). It allows developers to connect mobile apps to cloud-based backends without hassles.  Most BaaS providers offer software development kits (SDKs) and application programming interfaces that enable developers to connect their apps with backend services.  In essence,  developers can create apps with features such as push notifications, social networking, location services, cloud storage, and user management without hassles.

Features of mBaaS

Another vital aspect that differentiates two options is that BaaS offers loads of add-on functions, which creates value for modern business apps. These add-on functions vary from one BaaS provider to another, but here are a few ones that most backend companies offer.

  1. Visual Development: Although the features that promote visual development are popular with frontend development tools, backend service companies are adopting this model as well. Many providers are giving developers access to visual tools for managing backend tasks.
  2. APIs: A BaaS will deliver ready to use APIs (REST, GraphQL, or both) fully integrated with the database.
  3. Social Media Integration: This feature allows the app to integrate with the major social media platforms without hassles. Some of the social media actions include authentications and extracting activity data from the social media channels, among a host of others. 
  4. Push Notifications: This feature brings value to app developers that need to interact with app users seamlessly. So, the app owner can send push notifications and alerts to users without hassles.
  5. Search Feature: Although modern apps are designed to promote content discovery, the search feature remains relevant in app development. Backends enable developers to add search functions to their apps without extensive coding. 
  6. Mobile App Management: Apps usually have features that are available to app users and administrative functions that are restricted to the app owner. Backend services have features for creating permissions that give access to management functions to the admin users. 
  7. File Storage: A BaaS will allow to store your files, images, videos directly from the database and with just a few clicks.
  8. Hosting: A backend as a service will provide ready to use scalable infrastructure. In most cases managed services are provided and you will outsource the hassle of running, scaling, and maintaining servers to a third party.

Comparing BaaS and Mobile Middleware

Although mobile middleware performs tasks similar to BaaS, the model of connecting the frontend to the backend differs significantly. The main difference is that the mobile middleware integrates backend service to apps through an on-site server that the developer buys and manages.  On the other hand, BaaS achieves the same objectives through cloud-based servers, which are maintained by the backend as a service company.

BaaS and Mobile Application Development

Since BaaS platforms have successfully established reliable backend on the cloud, apps can integrate with backend services easily. This development is a radical departure from the traditional app development framework that incorporates backed-APIs independently for every feature. With BaaS the procedure for connecting the frontend elements with the backend functions has become seamless and uses fewer resources. 

With BaaS, developers are no longer required to create backend services for their apps. Besides the primary backend functions, an average backend service offers developers various add-on features and ready-made codes for executing regular app tasks. In essence,  the developer can focus on creating awesome frontend features since they no longer have to bother about backend coding. 

Another unique advantage is that apps powered by BaaS can scale seamlessly. The developer does not have to bother about scaling server infrastructures such as storage, network, or bandwidth.

Who are the mBaaS Users?

BaaS has gathered a vast audience that ranges from enterprise organizations to individual developers looking to adopt a simpler way to build mobile apps. With BaaS, developers no longer have to go through the trouble of learning backend development, and creating cross-platform apps has become easier than ever. A developer who only knows JavaScript can create a mobile app without learning an additional language or backend programming.

The Advantages of mBaaS

Developers and companies can benefit using a BaaS several ways.

  • Reduce engineering effort
  • Focus on UX/UI
  • Transform servers in a variable cost

The Disadvantages of mBaaS

While BaaS offers developers several benefits that simplify app development, it does have certain demerits. The most apparent among the limitations of BaaS is related to vendor lock-in and lower coding flexibility vs a custom backend. While many BaaS companies promise that developers can deploy and migrate their apps to other platforms easily, this is not always the case. The difference in technologies makes the procedure for migrating codes of an app to another platform complicated.  It is essential to note that the developer would have to create connections to backend function afresh since it is not possible to move the backend.

mBaaS Companies in 2020

The industry of backend as a service continues to thrive as more developers are opting to power their apps with backend services. Backend service providers, such as: Back4App, Parse, Backendless, Kinvey, Firebase, Hasura, Kuzzle among others, are innovating their platforms to bring value to developers around the world. Use the BaaS Comparison Matrix for a detailed overview of each vendor.

Conclusion

A backend as a service can benefit you several ways including a shorter time to market, reduced development costs, and providing a scalable infrastructure. On the other hand, a BaaS will remove part of the flexibility you have with custom coding and the vendor-lock may be an issue. There is a plenty of BaaS vendors available on the market and the most prominent ones are Back4app, Firebase, and Kinvey.

General FAQ

What is a mBaaS?

Backend as a service (BaaS) is often referred to as or Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS). It allows developers to connect mobile apps to cloud-based backends without hassles.  Most BaaS providers offer software development kits (SDKs) and application programming interfaces that enable developers to connect their apps with backend services.

What are the mBaaS features?

– Visual development
– APIs
– Social Media Integration
– Push Notifications
– Storage
– Hosting
– Search
– App Management

What are the pros and cons of a mBaaS?

The pros include reduced engineering effort to create and app, focus on UI/UX, and scalable infrastructure.

The cons include less flexibility vs a custom backend and vendor lock in.

What are the mBaaS companies in 2020?

– Back4app
– Parse
– Backendless
– Kinvey
– Firebase
– Hasura


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