Top 9 Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS) Platforms in 2021

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In this article, we discuss mobile backend as a service and its benefits. Find out the best MBaaS platforms of 2021.

What is an MBaaS platform?

Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS) is a cloud computing platform that provides predesigned and ready-to-use backend functionality via a customizable software development kit (SDK) or application programming interface (API).

Typically, an MBaaS platform includes the infrastructure and features usually found in a typical mobile server, like data storage, geolocation, authentication, push notifications, and user management. Using an MBaaS platform, a team of engineers can easily enable desired features in your mobile application, bypassing development.

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Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS) Platform

Thus, using a mobile backend as a service platform can save developers weeks or even months of effort by enabling them to create applications with a great number of features fast. From a business perspective, MBaaS helps speed up time to market as well as lower development costs.

As MBaaS technology has matured and gained prominence in the server application community, tech giants, as well as small and midsize businesses, have begun adopting MBaaS platforms not only for MVPs and single-function applications but for complicated consumers and enterprises solutions. The global MBaaS market has experienced growth over the past six years and is projected to exceed $87 billion by 2023.

Benefits of an MBaaS platform

To understand why MBaaS is important, you must understand that mobile apps have changed the paradigm. Business marketing has changed mobile apps forever. In the past, to sell products to customers all over the world, you couldn’t compete without a website. While you still need a website, today you will no longer be able to sell your products or services without a mobile app.

Getting a mobile app up and running quickly is the absolute priority of most modern businesses, and that app should work satisfactorily. However, developing mobile server infrastructure from scratch is hard and more time-consuming, and doing so will likely cause a delay in launching your mobile app.

The advantages of an MBaaS platform are that it simplifies server-side development. For instance, if you had to build the server side of your app from scratch, you would need to integrate and manage several proprietary systems with various data formats and large volumes of data. An MBaaS platform does it all for you.

Additionally, if you take a look at the mobile platforms and devices on which your mobile application should work seamlessly, you will see the complexity. An MBaaS platform takes care of this for you.

Other things that an MBaaS platform can handle for you include:

  • User management
  • Storing persistent data
  • Push notifications
  • Geolocation services
  • API management (no need to code the integration on your side)
  • Easily creating a dedicated infrastructure for your mobile application with a cloud model

Of course, you can build everything yourself. However, doing so distracts your attention from providing value to your customers around the world. An MBaaS frees you to focus on mission-critical design and interface development.

Remember that your mobile developers will also enjoy working on the interface because of the tremendous creativity it offers. Hence, you will also have a happy and productive team if you let your MBaaS provider take care of the back end of your mobile application.

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How to choose among mobile backend as a service providers

When choosing an MBaaS provider for your mobile application, check the following:

  1. Secure storage of server-side code, files, databases, etc. in the cloud
  2. Database architecture and transaction processing capabilities
  3. APIs to connect your application to required cloud services
  4. Ease of managing internal data and the availability of the correct processes, methods, and tools (PM&T) for this
  5. Secure communication between users and servers
  6. Quality of technical support
  7. Ease of doing business with the provider
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Top 9 MBaaS platforms and tools

There are many factors to consider when choosing the right MBaaS platform. The variety of server-side features, the richness of the SDK and API, ease of use, documentation availability, and pricing model all determine how well a platform can contribute to your cloud-based mobile development project.

Among other things, you should evaluate the reliability of the MBaaS provider and the popularity of the solution in the developer community. To help you navigate the growing MBaaS market, we’ve looked at the pros and cons of the most prominent platforms.

Firebase

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Firebase is one of the most popular serverless development platform for Android, iOS, and web applications. It was originally a fairly limited tool, but in 2014, Firebase was acquired by Google, which has gone to great lengths to turn it into an end-to-end backend as a service (BaaS) platform. Today, software developers from The New York Times, Duolingo, Lyft, Venmo, The Economist, and other well-known companies use Firebase to submit their applications.

In addition to this versatile feature set, Firebase excels in ease of use and superficial learning. In addition, with active support from Google and a significant developer community, the platform has detailed technical documentation, user guides, and training videos.

At the same time, Firebase is not suitable for complex large-scale applications due to the limited query capabilities and the complexity of data migration. What’s more, Firebase’s pricing model makes it an expensive option for projects such as retail apps that involve a high volume of database transactions.

AWS Amplify

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AWS Amplify is a collection of libraries, user interface components, and a command-line interface (CLI) designed to help mobile and web developers build rich applications. Amplify is a relatively young BaaS solution launched in late 2017 and actively researched by the community. Today, the HyperTrack, Orangetheory, and Branch development teams use it for their software products.

Amplify libraries contain services for user account creation, push notifications, and data stores, as well as AI/ML capabilities for image recognition, text interpretation, and speech transcription in iOS and Android applications. Using the Amplify command-line toolkit, developers can easily build and maintain a serverless AWS backend.

AWS Amplify has been praised for its rich feature set and reasonable pay-as-you-go pricing. Amplify is considered more suitable for large-scale projects with strict quality and safety requirements than for startup-level projects. However, the perceived complexity of the platform and the steep learning curve are significant hurdles for companies looking to reduce their time to market in the first place.

Game Sparks

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Game Sparks, owned by Amazon is both free and has paid plans. The standard paid plan starts at $299 per month, and you can get pricing for corporate plans upon request.
Key features:

  • Social multiplayer
  • Metagame economy
  • Player management
  • Customizable back office
  • Scaling, segmentation
  • Analytics
  • Live events
  • Chat, currencies
  • Virtual goods
  • Leaderboards
  • Marketing automation
  • Real-time multiplayer
  • Player matching
  • Commands
  • Notifications
  • Messaging
  • A/B testing
  • Authentication
  • Multiple integrations
  • Achievement systems
  • Roles and permissions

When it comes to technical documentation, Game Sparks has extensive and detailed platform tutorials available online. Support services for the platform are available through a ticketing system.

Backendless

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Backendless is a promising MBaaS platform released in 2014 that can compete to a large extent with Google and AWS products. The solution has a solid client base of SMBs and Fortune 500 companies including Accenture, Dell, and Capgemini.

Backendless can be integrated with the most common mobile and web client languages such as Java, Swift, Objective-C, JavaScript, Flutter, and .NET. It offers a wide range of features for server-side development: user authentication and management, geolocation, messaging, file storage, push notifications, and more. The platform also includes a library of landing page templates and marketing emails as well as tools for A/B email testing and user segmentation.

There are also Backendless Pro and Managed Backendless versions designed for large enterprises. The Pro version has no functional limitations and can be installed anywhere from the developer’s computer to the public cloud, while Managed Backendless includes a dedicated server cluster prepared exclusively for the client and full support for server operations from the Backendless team.

In 2020, the company introduced Backendless v6.0, which includes a UI builder, multi-framework development features, and a transaction API. This high-profile release transforms Backendless from a server-side app builder to a visual platform for app development.

The strengths of Backendless are its ease of use and ease of integration, the constant addition of new features, and solid support. On the other hand, many developers find the free version too limited and admit they find it difficult to solve complex logical server problems.

Progress Kinvey

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Founded in 2010, Kinvey has become a popular mobile server as a service solution used by well-known companies such as Schneider Electric and VMware. In 2017, the platform was acquired by Progress Software, an American technology provider that develops business applications. Kinvey has been integrated with several existing Progress tools but remains a standalone product with its core functionality unchanged.

Progress Kinvey is positioned as an enterprise-grade solution for streamlining the development and deployment of iOS, Android, and web apps as well as progressive web apps. In addition to core functionality for push notifications and authentication, this MBaaS platform provides customer and user interaction and IoT data management capabilities. In addition, Progress Kinvey offers specialized microservices for healthcare, insurance, and manufacturing, which sets it apart from other MBaaS solutions on the market.

With differentiated pricing models, Kinvey proves to be cost-effective for individual software engineers, small and medium-sized businesses, and large corporations. Plus, extensive technical documentation and a large knowledge base make the platform accessible even to inexperienced developers.

Cloudboost

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Cloudboost is a real-time server-side JavaScript platform. It’s a great choice for building scalable web and mobile apps. Cloudboost is part of Hackerbay, a privately held software company headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. Prominent users of this platform include Sony, Coca-Cola, Adobe, and many other companies listed on the official website. Cloudboost has a 30-day free trial, and premium plans start at $93 per month.

In terms of technical documentation, Cloudboost offers extensive and in-depth platform guides available online. There are several support plans. Basic plan support is provided via email with a two-day service level agreement, and for enterprise plans, 24/7 support is provided. The official Cloudboost website has mid-range plans.

Back4App

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When Facebook discontinued Parse, the leading MBaaS tool in 2017, the developer community enthusiastically took responsibility for maintaining its open-source version, Parse Server. Since then, several modern MBaaS providers have built their platforms on Parse Server, and Back4App is the most famous of them.

Back4App offers SDKs for Swift, Android Studio, JavaScript, React Native, GraphQL, and other common development environments and tools. Its mobile server-side development toolbox includes push notifications, automated emails, social login, and file storage. The solution provides a user-friendly spreadsheet database that allows developers to easily create, update, and sync application data. Back4App also offers the choice between shared and dedicated hosting for its future software.

Another notable feature of the platform is a specialized CLI tool that allows you to quickly port your Parse-based application to Back4App. Overall, this MBaaS platform is a great choice for building a variety of mobile apps, from MVPs to enterprise apps. The only fly in the ointment is the fact that Back4App relies heavily on the officially discontinued Parse, whose stability and promotion now depend solely on the commitment of the developer community.

Apple CloudKit

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CloudKit is Apple’s BaaS platform released along with iOS 8. Available for iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS, it’s designed to make it easy for apps to integrate with iCloud server storage.

Key features of Apple CloudKit include user authentication, push notifications, secure data and file sharing, and structured storage of assets in private, public, or shared databases. The biggest distinctive feature of CloudKit is that it offers a large amount of free data transfer and storage. However, you need to join the iOS Developer Program to be eligible to use the framework.

Since CloudKit is designed exclusively for the Apple ecosystem and is unreasonably difficult to use on any other platform, it is a rather limited MBaaS tool. Meanwhile, iOS developers will likely appreciate the platform’s zero license fee, in-place feature set, and network stability.

Kumulos

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Kumulos is a powerful platform for mobile application performance management with features such as crash reports and diagnostics as well as app store optimization. However, it’s best known in software development circles for its MBaaS capabilities.

The Kumulos MBaaS offers standard services for mobile server-side development along with SDKs for major mobile and web development environments that software engineers can download and integrate into their application projects.

Due to the nature of the platform, it comes with a suite of analytics, reporting, and promotion optimization tools that many business owners can find useful. The company develops specialized MBaaS infrastructure for enterprises that have specific requirements for their development environments.

A simple drag-and-drop interface, the ability to use your own data, and a highly scalable application infrastructure all bring Kumulos brownie points.

Final thoughts on MBaaS platforms

As the speed of delivering mobile applications has become a key success factor, mobile backend as a service platforms have become an extremely useful development tool. The right MBaaS platform enables teams to simplify application creation with out-of-the-box functionality so they can focus on critical development tasks.

Adopting an MBaaS-based approach will not only help developers get their applications to market faster and take advantage of the first-mover advantage but also quickly implement new features and updates, increasing customer loyalty.

However, keep in mind that MBaaS is not a viable alternative to custom development. Its standardized set of internal features, limited customization options, and weak default security make it insufficient to create a unique, full-fledged mobile app.

An MBaaS can have a positive impact on both the development process and business performance if implemented by experienced engineers.

If you are interested in adopting a mobile backend as a service platform but don’t know where to start, contact Mobindustry for a free consultation.

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