Backend-as-a-Service (Baas) is a mobile development trend that will continue to increase in popularity in the coming years. According to Global Industry Analysts Inc., a business strategy and market intelligence source, "the global market for Backend-as-a-Service (BaaS) is projected to reach US$31.6 billion by 2020, driven by the rise of app driven economies worldwide and the ensuing indispensability of mobile applications in the creation of economic value" Global Industry Analysts Inc.. As BaaS develops into a market-driver for app-based economies, it's important for the developers who work on the backend, and for tech company investors and product managers alike, to understand what BaaS is and what value it brings to the market.

The basic premise for BaaS is "API-first" development, meaning an API is constructed first and acts as base on which to build different mobile platforms (IoS, Android, etc). This contrasts with another popular approach, "mobile-first", sometimes known as Platform-as-as-Service (PaaS), where a mobile web page is constructed first, and then the backend product is built for each different platform Nordic APIs.

Traditionally, the mobile-first approach focuses on top-down development, with developers first creating the landing page for the app, and then developing separate products for each platform, essentially creating self-contained and self-managed apps for each platform. The API approach operates on the premise that all platforms and apps, regardless of their separate idiosyncrasies and more complex requirements, have essential base elements and needs in common, such as push notifications, user administration, and storage capabilities.

Benefits of BaaS

Over the coming years, the API-based BaaS approach will provide third-party services as a backend function, with users building platform-specific apps on top of a reusable base. This API base will house repeatable functions, such as push notifications, integration with social networks, file storage and sharing, location services, messaging and chat, user management, business logic, and usage analysis. These elements will be available to all apps built on top of the backend, regardless of what app platform the end-user will consume, such as IoS or Android. The reusable services provided by BaaS contribute several advantages over traditional front-end development.

A reusable and repeatable backend brings many benefits, such as:

  • Stops unnecessary stack development.

Instead of many developers being forced to recreate a stack for each mobile app they develop, a BaaS service can provide for much of their underlying processing needs. Their main issue would then be connecting to an API, instead of spending hours developing customized stacks that then have to be re-created, changed, and reassembled to fit the needs of each different app platform. Developers can build just what they need on top of existing structures, instead of starting from scratch each time.

  • Allows for more accessibility.

If each app has the same underlying base, than BaaS has the potential to easily link apps across platforms. This has many benefits, from easier data sharing to better accessibility for cloud storage, a quicker spin-up time, and an overall better user experience.

  • Provides diverse outcomes from one model.

Think of BaaS like a "starter home." Each user starts off with the same basic elements and continues to add to those elements to create their own customized "home." However, because the base elements of the house are all the same, other users have the potential to more easily understand and even interact with or fix the "house," creating a unified backend that has a better and stronger user base.

Developer Considerations

There are a few issues that developers who create or use BaaS products should consider before implementing or using a BaaS system.

  • Build APIs and SDKs to be uniform

For developers helping to create BaaS products, the main focus should be continuity in the consumable APIs and SDKs. This means each one should be able to be consumed repeatedly in the same way, across the backend. This creates less confusion to consumers, as they can learn the patterns and code once for consumption of any API you provide, instead of having to learn different rules for each product.

  • Front-end web apps should fit "the mold"

Unlike mobile-first development (PaaS), BaaS is, understandably, focused more on the underlying systems of a backend. It requires that web apps be developed around the functionality of that system, instead of building a customized stack for each app. Mobile developers will have to take this into consideration in their design and use of the APIs and SDKs in a BaaS solution.

  • Data is the most important thing

In a BaaS model, data is first Nordic APIs. The API that provides this data should be the center of the app development. There are many decisions that will have to be made around the data, such as who can access it and how the app will handle the data. This can put a strain on the security of an app, so precautions should be taken to make sure that the data is not only accessible, but secure as well.

Summary

Using a backend to take some of the development tasks off your plate provides many benefits, including less complicated app development, less development time, and more accessibility to different platforms. When considering a switch to the BaaS model, either through building your own or using a BaaS provider, make sure to research the issues and come up with a development plan -- a uniform design can make all the difference in a successful implementation.

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