Is Backend as a Service the new Gold rush?

cloudkit logoOne of the worst things about learning to code mobile Apps is that sooner or later you realise that you have just done half of the job. With your incredible new skills you will be able to develop amazing Apps, the problem is that these Apps will be standalone apps. This will be OK for some Apps, but in the world we live in interconnectivity has become the new rule, so you are severely limited if you stick to local.

This ultimately translates in the horrifying fact that you need to develop a backend for your App. For some people this can be quite daunting, and a real turn off. That is why many companies employ different programmers for backend and frontend. In 2011, Parse (the company Facebook bought recently) went live with an extremely ambitious and amazing plan, to enable App developers to set up their own backend very easily. This meant they didn’t have to learn PHP with SQL and other programming languages, they just had to use their intuitive API that creates objects and sends them off to a well-constructed backend infrastructure. It even handled push notifications easily.

So, where the trick? The fact if Parse charges you per request, it has a free tier, and then prices skyrocket. They offer rates of approximately 30 requests per second that can go up to 200 (for a whopping 1700$). This means that prorated hourly, your app can do up to 30 requests per second, effectively it can handle:


30*60*60*24=2592000 per day.

Think of a Chat App, a message would take a request to send, and a request to receive. Which means, per day you can send up to 1296000 messages. It isn’t bad, but the steep money curve means you might want to control those numbers very closely.

Microsoft also decided it wanted a BAAS (Backend as a Service) and pushed out Windows Azure.

Not surprisingly, Apple in its last keynote showcased CloudKit, their answer to this dilemma. As you might imagine, it only works on OSX and iOS and comes in a “free with limits” package. However those limits are extremely high. This is a great strategy to tie developers to the iOS universe, taking them away for the pain of designing robust backends and offering free solutions with intuitive “Apple like” systems.


What do you think? Do you see BAAS as the future? Or do you believe that these are just patches to avoid what really should be done, a good robust old fashioned server?