What is Mobile Backend-as-a-Service?
Choosing the right mobile backend-as-a-service (mBaaS) provider can be difficult. It comes down to personal preference and what you’re trying to achieve with your mobile app. mBaaS is now one of the hottest and fastest-growing delivery platforms for cloud services.
Nowadays most mobile apps require a backend. The best mBaaS platforms enable you to manage a centralised database that allows users to share content via the cloud. Back in the day, things were different and you’d need to develop your own backend using server-side technology such as Ruby or PHP. This often proved difficult to scale, time-consuming in terms of resources and required a specialist set of skills to deliver something that worked effectively. With all this in mind, let’s take a look at how to choose the right backend-as-a-service platform.
Why do you need a mBaaS vendor?
Scaling iOS apps and Android apps can be challenging. It’s difficult to estimate demand prior to launch, and you need a backend that scales effectively as your audience grows. Just because you can code for iOS or Android, doesn’t mean you can easily develop a scalable backend that works for your app – this requires a totally different set of skills. Designing a front end UI/UX for your app is time-consuming and creating a backend adds additional time to your project.
Nowadays you don’t have to worry about developing a backend for your app. Today we’re exploring three platforms that enable you to configure a web-based backend that can be integrated directly into your app.
What do you get with a mBaaS platform?
Mobile backend-as-a-service provides a platform with backend storage and a bunch of other useful functions that can be harnessed via your mobile app. Most BaaS platforms come equipped with a useful iOS library to ensure smooth integration. Many of these services offer a freemium model and offer good value for money with pricing based on usage and increased scalability. This enables you to manage commercial risk as you’ll only start to pay once your app becomes successful.
So there are a bunch of mobile backend-as-a-service providers and a few common features you should look for including push notifications, user management, file storage, geolocation and ability to store custom objects. Now that you’ve got an idea what BaaS is all about, let’s take a look at the top providers:
Of all the options out there, Kumulos is our favourite mBaaS platform, offering a wide variety of features to help app developers code, deploy and optimise apps. What’s great about Kumulos is works across different types of apps, (native, hybrid & web apps) easily scaling up and scaling down as we need.
Kumulos supports iOS, OSX, PHP, Windows, Cordova, Ionic, Phonegap, Unity, Xamarin and Android and they give you a 30 days free trial ( $50 per app, per month post-trial). We also like the interface – clean, modern and easy to follow.
We reckon it’s about 40% faster using Kumulos than other systems, so it saves us a heck of a lot of time building the server-side of the app. The platform also comes with Analytics and a push notification service-driven off the same SDK, which is nice. We would also give a special shout-out t0 he Support Team and to their on-line documentation. Its always good to know that if you get stuck, they have your back.
2. Progress Kinvey
Progress Kinvey is a good solution if you’re looking for an enterprise-grade solution. But of course, this comes at a price. Kinvey has a free tier if you are an indie-developer, but it can get expensive if you’re a company with more than 20 employees – $2,000 a month to be exact. For that, you do get multiple developer environments, cloud cache and 30 GB of cloud storage.
We’ve found Kinvey’s support team fast, responsive and focused on helping you get your app to launch quickly. If you’re on the Platinum support plan, you’ll also get chat access to support. The “starter plan”, on the other hand, limits you to email support – which works well if you’re not up against a hard deadline.
All that said, you get what you pay for, and Kinvey has a very impressive list of features, offering coverage of native, hybrid and mobile web applications. It also comes with an impressive list of out the box integrations too, with Oracle, Salesforce, SAP and more.
Kii Cloud is the product of a partnership Servo Software of Santa Clara and Synclore Corporation of Tokyo, Japan. Servo began life as a distributor of APIs and SDKs to network operators, device manufacturers and developers. Synclore was initially founded in 2008 and was bought out by Nokia Japan. The company now provides software for customers, such as Softbank using its proprietary mobile back-up system.
Launched in 2012, Kii now boasts 25 million end-users and a global distribution network. Kii (or Kii Cloud, as people used to call it) fuses together API’s and SDK’s with a proprietary backend that enables mobile developers to reduce the difficulty associated with creating new server instances. Kii are quick to emphasise the simplicity and scalability of their platform, using object-oriented database technology that was initially developed as an open-source project.
In conclusion – there’s no silver bullet when evaluating each service. Choosing the right BaaS platform will always depend on your project requirements. Consider the features each platform offers relative to your goals. High-quality documentation is a bonus and you’ll benefit from being with a provider that offers a responsive level of support. Understanding how your app is likely to scale is also important as it’ll impact your running costs. You can start by mapping out your projected usage against the pricing plan for each platform. Good luck and happy hunting!
Waracle, part of the Exception Group, is the UK’s leading digital solutions specialist. Since 2008 Waracle have engaged with large UK and international organisations to plan and execute their digital product strategies. Waracle now has offices in Dundee, Glasgow, Edinburgh and London with a rapidly growing team of industry-leading UX designers, scrum-masters, iOS, Android and Hybrid developers, IoT, Voice (we’re Amazon Alexa Skills Approved) , QA and App Store Optimisation experts.
In addition to the investment in Mozenix (Augmented Reality), Waracle also have investment in Kumulos (Mobile App Performance Software) and Wallet.Services (Blockchain).