Backend as a Service

kinvey.pngThere’s a growing number of hosted services that allow you to concentrate on your smartphone apps while leaving the server-side to someone else. The idea is that custom scalable, secure and managed services are difficult and costly to create so instead you piggy-back on a service that has already solved these problems. There’s a useful new blogpost and infographic (png) at kinvey that depicts backend providers, service providers and their inter-relationships with mobile SDKs, mobile APIs and handset OEMs.

If you have a hobby project or proof of concept then this type of service is great to get you going quickly. However, if you are offering a commercial app you should do your due diligence. Here are some things you should be thinking about…

  • As with any service is there any guaranteed service level?  Have there been any outages?
  • Is the service really scalable?.  Find out how. What about required bandwidth and I/O?  I say this because some services say they are scalable just because they run on Google/Amazon cloud services. This sometimes isn’t enough.
  • Can the service deal with surges in use such as that required when a service is launched?
  • How easy it for you to actually see your data for reporting, admin and backup purposes? If not, you will need to write extra software to do these things.
  • How much will it cost in the long term if you really do get very many users?
  • How long is the service likely to be around? How is it funded? Is it experimental or commercial?  I’d prefer paid to free as at at least you know they are getting income to help continue and improve the service.