How To Choose The Right Backend as a Service (BaaS) Platform

How To Choose The Right Backend as a Service (BaaS) Platform

17th February 2016

Choosing the right backend as a service (BaaS) provider can be difficult. It comes down to personal preference and what you’re trying to achieve with your mobile app. BaaS is now one of the hottest and fastest growing delivery platforms for cloud services.

What is Backend as a Service (BaaS)?

Nowadays most apps to require a web connected backend. BaaS enables you to manage a centralised database that lets your users share content via the cloud. Back in the day things were different and you’d need to develop your own backend using a 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. Today we’re exploring how to choose the right backend as a service platform.

Why do you need a BaaS provider?

Scaling apps for iOS and Android 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 BaaS platform?

BaaS 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 BaaS providers and a few common features you should look for including push notifications, user management, file storage, geolocation and ability to store custom objects. Today’s post explores our three top BaaS picks and offers useful advice on the best platform for your app. Now that you’ve got an idea what BaaS is all about, let’s take a look at the top providers:

1. Kumulos

Of all the choices out there, Kumulos is our favorite 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, Cordova, Phonegap, Xamarin and Android and they give you a 30 days free trial. It costs $50 per app, per month. We also like the interface, its clean, modern and easy to follow.  We reckon its 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.  It also comes with Analytics and Push Notification service driven off the same SDK, which is nice. With their app store optimization feature and automated monthly report its a pretty comprehensive platform. We would also give a special shout-out the the Support Team. Its always good to know that if you get stuck, they have your back.

2. Kinvey

Kinvey is a good solution if you are looking for an enterprise-grade solution. But if course this comes a a price. Kinvey has a free tier if you are an inde developer but can get expensive if you are 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 data storage. We have found Kinvey’s support team fast, responsive and focused on helping you get your app to launch quickly, if you are on the Platinum support plan, where you get chat access to support. The “starter plan” limits you to email support, which works well if you are not up against a hard deadline.
That said you get what you pay for and Kinvey have a very impressive list of features and offer coverage of native, hybrid and mobile web applications. It comes with an impressive list of out the box integrations with Oracle, Salesforce, SAP and more.

3. AnyPresence

According to their website, AnyPresence is built “to meet the evolving needs of mobile-enabling a developer ecosystem with fully portable run-time source code and zero platform lock-in.” Once you’ve cut through the marketing hyperbole, you’ll find that AnyPresence is actually a decent BaaS platform. AnyPresence is enterprise focused and helps big companies get their apps to market quickly using a scalable backend. The platform combines a bunch of features including app development tools, backend services and an API gateway. The AnyPresence dashboard exists online and runs well in most browsers.

4. Kii

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 and use object oriented database technology that was initially developed as an open source project.

In conclusion – there is no silver bullet when evaluating each service. Choosing the right BaaS platform will 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.

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