Mobile Backend As A Service:MBaas


What is BaaS?

BaaS aka backend as a service is nothing but the cloud service model that handles all the behind-the-scenes processes and elements of any web or mobile application. This only leaves developers with the task of writing and maintaining the code for Frontend.

When it comes to BaaS services, the BaaS service providers are responsible for offering servers like user authentication, remote updating, database management, and push notifications for mobile applications along with cloud storage and hosting.

But, let me make things more interesting for you. So that you can get an in-depth idea about BaaS. Imagine you are planning to launch your own cafe; your core responsibilities are to arrange all the grocery and other miscellaneous stuff, all the appliances for brewing and serving beverages, manage the space to ensure everyone is sitting comfortably, and so on. And that is just apart from the actual job, which is taking care of profit and losses along with managing the budget.

But, what if you could opt for a service provider that could help you handle all your core responsibilities so that you can primarily focus on managing finance? That is exactly what BaaS helps you with; not funding, but managing the backend services to help you take care of Frontend only. So, developers, ready to explore BaaS further? Let’s move:

BaaS allows developers to focus on writing the frontend application code. But APIs are a method of programming to make a request for another program and SDKs are kits for creating software offered by the BaaS provider. They are able to integrate all the backend functionality they require, without having to create the backend themselves.

Moreover, developers also don’t have to cope with servers, virtual machines, or containers in order to let the application run smoothly. As a result, they can build and launch mobile applications and web applications (including single-page applications) more quickly.

What is MBaaS?

Now that you have got a profound understanding of the concept of backend as a service; MBaaS is nothing but a specific platform for mobile applications that are also known as Mobile backend as a service.

There have been a lot of differences of opinion regarding these two concepts. That’s why I want you all to know what exactly an MBaaS provider helps you with and why you should opt for MBaaS as we proceed further.  First, let’s learn about how MBaaS came into existence.

Difference Between MBaas And Baas?

MBaaS is sometimes used interchangeably with backend as a service (BaaS). BaaS may be more oriented toward web-based applications rather than mobile apps, although typically the service offerings are very similar. While backend as a service providers can typically support both web and mobile applications, it’s common for BaaS to offer greater storage capabilities to support larger web apps.

While MBaaS utilizes the term “mobile” referring to mobile app development, a mobile backend as a service platform such as Backendless can be used to support both a mobile application as well as a web app. In fact, Backendless provides extensive cross-platform support for apps that are available across client types such as mobile, tablet, and desktop/web.

Common MBaaS Functionality

In general, the purpose of an MBaaS platform is to provide app developers with a means to connect their frontend application with backend core features such as cloud computing, cloud storage, and APIs exposed by a backend application. The intended outcome is that it frees app developers from thinking about, worrying about, managing, or performing any tasks related to servers.

An MBaaS platform will typically provide a number of basic operations, such as user management, support for push notifications, and social network APIs for social login, posting, etc.

MBaaS services utilize custom software development kits (SDKs) to enable developers to connect their API endpoints to various frontend clients such as iOS and Android applications built with any technology capable of producing a mobile app, such as ReactNative, Ionic, Flutter, Unity, etc. These SDKs can also contain access to the provider’s pre-built APIs, such as APIs for login, push notifications, and data service.

The depth and quality of features offered by MBaaS services can vary greatly. Some may offer the bare minimum features mentioned previously while leaving the remainder of the backend, such as API construction and database development and management, to the developer. Others, such as Backendless and Google Firebase, offer extensive additional out of the box features.

Top Benefits of MBaaS

There are several benefits to using an MBaaS platform to support mobile app product development:

1. No need to manage servers

With an MBaaS platform, you no longer have to worry about server administration, security updates, backups, scaling, performance optimization, or other issues associated with running your own backend infrastructure. You simply develop your frontend application and let the MBaaS platform handle everything else.

2. Faster time to market

An MBaaS platform makes it possible to quickly create new mobile apps without having to build out a full backend solution. This allows you to start building out your app UI right away, which can save months of work and, in turn, reduce app development costs.

3. Increased productivity

An MBaaS platform enables you to spend less time developing your app and more time focusing on what matters most—building great products.

4. Reduced hosting costs

You don’t have to pay for expensive hosting and maintenance fees when using an MBaaS service. Instead, you only pay for the resources you use.

5. Easier scalability

An MBaaS platform typically offers easy ways to scale up and down based on demand. That means that you don’t have to invest time and resources into infrastructure planning and server resource allocation. Instead, your MBaaS provider will handle these complex tasks for you as you grow.

6. Better security

If you’re concerned about securing sensitive data in your mobile app, an MBaaS platform gives you the ability to easily encrypt data at rest and in transit. It’s important to note that this encryption is handled by the MBaaS platform, not your mobile app.

7. Easy integration with third-party services

Many MBaaS platforms allow you to integrate with existing third-party systems, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Slack. This eliminates the need to duplicate functionality across multiple systems.

Infrastructure Management

Now that we know the overall benefits, let’s dig a little deeper into how an MBaaS system handles these critical functions.

Infrastructure management can be costly and time-consuming – for apps with consistent growth, it can be a full-time job for a developer. Owning your own server infrastructure can be very costly and inefficient, especially for applications that see large fluctuations in usage depending on time of day, day of the week, or even time of year.

When working with an MBaaS platform like Backendless, you can focus on creating your mobile app instead of managing servers. The MBaaS platform handles all aspects of backend infrastructure, including the following:

  • Server provisioning
  • Database creation and management
  • Security configuration
  • Data storage
  • Application monitoring
  • User authentication
  • Error handling
  • Notification services

Allowing the MBaaS provider to handle these aspects of your project can dramatically speed up development, saving both time and money.

API Management

API construction and management can be handled by MBaaS in a variety of ways. A basic approach requires the developer to build and test new APIs on their local machine or with another service, and then access or import those services using the MBaaS platform.

More feature-rich providers, like Backendless, give the developer the tools to build, test, and deploy APIs within the MBaaS platform itself. Backendless gives users the ability to import APIs from other sources, code APIs within the platform, or build APIs using a Codeless builder.

Codeless API construction is designed to make building APIs easier. With a Codeless builder, the user has the ability to build logic using visual components. When complete, the platform will automatically convert the logic to code.

MBaaS providers may supply a variety of pre-built APIs. Backendless, for example, includes dozens of standard services for a variety of languages including REST, iOS, Android/Java, .NET, and JavaScript. These APIs can be used as-is or can be modified or combined with other logic to create new APIs to match the developers’ needs.

Database Management

MBaaS providers do not necessarily include database management services. Typically, an MBaaS provider will be capable of interacting with a user’s database, but may not provide the ability to build a database within the platform.

Some providers, such as Backendless, Firebase, and Azure, provide database management services as well. Backendless, for example, can interact with a user’s external (or legacy) database while also providing the tools to build a new database within the platform itself.

Backendless provides an internal database that is automatically tuned to provide optimum performance. It is a complete persistence solution that can fully support your application without any additional storage systems. Additionally, Backendless can support external databases, meaning the platform can connect to your existing relational database management system (RDBMS) to access the existing schema and dataset.

Backendless Database features both real-time data capability as well as relational data functionality. Data relations allow users to reduce data table size by using multiple interrelated tables.

User Management

Most MBaaS providers have some sort of user management functionality built into the platform. This allows users to register, log in, and manage their own accounts. Some platforms, such as Backendless, offer more advanced features, such as password recovery, two-factor authentication, and multi-user capabilities.

User authentication is one of the key features of any user management system. Authentication is typically performed through a combination of username and password, although other methods are available. For example, OAuth 2.0 uses tokens instead of passwords. Single sign-on, or SSO, solutions enable users to authenticate once and then use those credentials across multiple applications.

Authentication can be handled using a simple username/password combination, or using third party authentication. Third-party authentication options can include social media services such as Facebook and Twitter, tech giants like Google, Microsoft and Amazon, and other tech services like Fitbit and GitHub.

Business Logic and Cloud Services

Once data is received on the backend, or a request for data is received, it is not uncommon for the backend to perform some logic relating to that data. In order to free up memory and computing resources on the client-side, it is far more efficient for a mobile application to perform computations on the backend.

A high-quality MBaaS solution with give the developer the ability to create logic based on certain events that trigger calculations or computations on the backend. That way, the platform’s cloud computing capabilities – which far surpass those of a mobile device – will be utilized to save processing time.

For developers seeking to substantially speed up the backend development process, or for those without coding expertise, Backendless provides the ability to create Cloud Code: event handlers and timers that can be built without code and run on the backend as programmed by the developer.

Cloud Storage

MBaaS services provide developers with access to cloud storage. This potentially eliminates the need to purchase and maintain internal servers while still making the backend readily available to client applications. Maintaining separate file storage, data storage, and logic storage systems can greatly increase costs. MBaaS providers put all of these elements under one roof.

One common function of a backend is to store images and files that are too bulky or infrequently used to be included in the client application. By storing these items in the cloud, MBaaS makes it easy for geographically or organizationally separated teams to share these files. The files can be easily accessed with a file service API or in the MBaaS user interface.

MBaaS providers typically use cloud hosting for all backend files, databases, and APIs as the default, following the serverless model. Less common are MBaaS solutions that offer local installations of the platform for on-premises or virtual machine hosting.

With Backendless Pro, Backendless also offers an MBaaS platform that can be housed on local servers. This gives developers greater control over server architecture as well as removing limitations on server usage. We discussed the advantages and disadvantages of serverless hosting versus cloud servers and in-house servers in a previous article.

Cross-Platform Data Morphing

An important capability not offered by all MBaaS services is the ability to morph data for cross-platform delivery. An application that supports multiple client-side platforms (iOS, Android, web, etc.) will receive data in different formats from each platform.

Traditionally, providers will deliver all data to the client applications in JSON, leaving it up to the developer to transform that data into the appropriate class in order to perform application-level processing. Backendless performs this transformation automatically out of the box, with no additional setup required.

Similarly, the most versatile MBaaS platforms will offer SDKs for all of the most common frontend languages, such as iOS/Swift, Android/Java, and JavaScript, to make connecting your application’s frontend and backend easier. Backendless goes one step further, including .NET as well as Flutter SDKs.

Mobile developers will benefit from the ease of being able to deploy to multiple mobile platforms with a single backend code base. Additionally, it puts all backend development into a single development environment, lowering the learning curve for inexperienced developers.

Overall MBaaS Benefits

There are many benefits to using an MBaaS platform for your backend development. Virtually all of the benefits boil down to this: saving mobile app developers money and time. With MBaaS, your mobile development team spends less time developing APIs, managing databases, and (potentially) managing servers, and can therefore spend more time developing new functionality and focusing on the user experience.

For lean teams with limited resources, MBaaS can drastically reduce the time spent on building the backend for startup-level projects. For enterprises looking for rapid, agile mobile development, MBaaS provides benefits such as API sharing among teams and centralized database management for large-scale projects. In either case, MBaaS frees up developers to focus on the user experience rather than the inner workings of the app.

How Did the Concept of MBaaS Come Into Play?

MBaaS came into existence to meet the mounting demand for quality mobile apps, built in the least amount of time, without compromising on performance and data security.

Since incorporating individual features such as push notifications, cloud storage, location, mapping, orchestration, etc., each with its own API made the entire process time-consuming and complicated.

As the name suggests, MBaaS was built and brought to be availed seeing the rising demand for quality mobile applications that are created within the minimum timeline, that too without compromising the seamless performance and data security.

But adding features like push notifications, cloud storage, location, mapping, orchestration, and what not; calls for a sufficient timeline if you have to get the job done aptly as this process is not easy to implement.

This, in turn, gave birth to the pressing requirement of a seamless business model that is eligible for providing the desired way to cope with the backend data. So that developers do not have to create their own backend for each of their applications.

MBaaS specializes in solving the issues and requirements related to cloud computing with the unified means of connecting mobile applications to cloud services.

MBaaS’s key feature is to create top-notch applications that too within a short period of time. Not only that, Mobile backend as a service gives the opportunity to avail the fantastic benefits of the latest features along with managing complex service commands for delivering an apt user experience rather than dealing with monotonous backend infrastructure.

How Does MBaaS Work for the Developers?

Generally, when developers build an application; it consists of 2 key elements: one is the frontend, the interface of the application, and the other one is the backend that contains all the information of infrastructure and features of the app.

Talking about an app that users generally appreciate apps that are developed with a great user interface as it is a pretty essential aspect of every application. But the thing is that the user interface can’t be the same for every app, it varies according to the theme of applications.

In order to create a different user interface, the developers are supposed to develop a different interface for all the applications. However, this process is not required to be done for the backend of the app.

With the usage of MBaaS, the developers can use the little components again that are provided by MBaaS, and these components are similar to the different features that are integrated into every app.

If we talk about the different features of the app, MBaaS offers features like business logic features and data processing features. The key goal is to help with the best user experience, along with the interface of the application.

Well, it’s not done yet. The best part for developers using MBaaS is the features and components do not take a lot of time to be integrated into the application in APIs. This ultimately makes the process of Backend development easy and time-saving.