Outsourcing server-side development is a sound decision in many cases: Backend-as-a-Service (BaaS) can bring quite a few business benefits. “When using BaaS, developers can concentrate on the business logic and only work on the parts that make money, without bothering with the tech underlayers,” explains Acropolium’s CEO Oleksii Glib.
The popularity of BaaS has led to many serverless backend providers popping out on the market. But even though they have similar features, the offerings still differ from vendor to vendor. So allow Acropolium to help you shortlist BaaS vendors and find the perfect match for your project.
With over a dozen years in the industry, our team understands what features to look for when choosing among the top serverless providers. Our portfolio covers healthcare, HoReCa, social media, and other projects built with the help of BaaS, so we know a thing or two about it.
More than that, Acropolium has an internal BaaS system we use to build apps across business domains. Contact us for details.
In this article, we’ll lead you through the various features and components of the backend you may need. And at the end, you’ll find the list of serverless backend providers you can consider partnering with.
But before we get to it, let’s briefly recollect the key points about the serverless backend and the reasons for using it.
What is a serverless backend, and who provides it?
Serverless backend is a service that takes the load of complex and time-consuming server-side tasks off engineers, completely or partially eliminating the server headache from their development process. Instead, this chunk of work is outsourced to third-party BaaS platforms.
The pay-per-use model of these services means that you pay for the number of function invocations and the time the function has been running. In the case of databases, you’ll be paying for the number of database requests and the data volume in them.
The popularity of BaaS and mBaaS, a sub-service for building mobile apps specifically, grows as more businesses look for cost-efficient ways to streamline software development and move to the cloud. The pandemic has also added its share to the increased demand for cloud services that provide fast and secure remote access and mobility. Overall, MarketsandMarkets estimates that the mobile BaaS market alone will grow to $5.9 billion by 2025, compared to $2 billion in 2020.
This is why we can see multiple enterprise serverless computing providers competing on the cloud scene. But don’t just fall for loud names: your choice of a BaaS vendor must come from your needs and nothing else.
BaaS providers offer the means to integrate backend functionality via APIs and SDKs without building the backend. Basically, you get ready-to-use building blocks and code generation tools to put your backend together like Lego bricks. This leads to a faster and cheaper development process but takes away the flexibility and customization options of a custom backend.
The best serverless backend providers have a more versatile set of “bricks” and can deliver services to a broader range of projects. Still, sometimes you will go for a custom backend, say, if your solution has a unique set of features no BaaS vendor can support.
Choosing serverless backend provider: Key reasons and benefits
We’ve already mentioned how BaaS saves development resources and simplifies the process. And you’ve probably noticed how the talent market is sizzling-hot: finding an experienced backend developer today has become a challenge few recruiters can handle. So consider looking at the best serverless computing companies instead of headhunting if your project:
- Is an MVP or a PoC
- Is an SPA (single-page application)
- Is small with a tight budget
- Is a solution with a small number of integrations
- Lacks backend developers
- Has typical backend features (data management, user authentication, verification, etc.)
The industry domains for BaaS may vary from social media and riding apps to games. But regardless of the field, turning to the right serverless backend provider will help speed up your release, save on the development, and attract fewer specialists to handle one project.
That leads us to another question: which one is the right serverless backend provider exactly? Let’s start with the basic features the top serverless hosting providers offer.
Key features best serverless vendors provide
Usually, BaaS providers follow the latest trends in software development to ensure the best coverage for both web and mobile app backend. The following features are common for the top serverless vendors, and you will need some of them for any backend you are building (or, rather, outsourcing).
- APIs to execute server-side queries and help with database and infrastructure management
- Database for real-time data synchronization and storage
- Cloud Code Functions to run backend code automatically in response to specific events
- Infrastructure for security settings, database optimization and backup, and automatic scaling
- Content Delivery Network to distribute content efficiently and reduce latency
- Caching for better performance
- Geolocation that has to include data policy administration and enhanced security capabilities
- User authentication that can be enhanced with two-factor authentication
- Third-party integrations to ensure access and data processing with other backend systems
- Social integration to improve user management by adding social media login
- Push notifications to provide mediation between backend notifications and the client-side
- Data management for data storage, processing, and analysis, powered by regular automatic backups
You also shouldn’t forget about GDPR and HIPAA compliance. Instead of bothering with all the regulations yourself, you can rely on the serverless backend providers to take care of the compliant infrastructure. Just note that while GDPR compliance is more common, not all top serverless backend providers follow HIPAA regulations. So be sure to verify this if you’re planning to use BaaS for a healthcare project.
Top serverless backend providers
Now that we’ve pinpointed the main features BaaS vendors should offer, let’s examine the market for the most popular serverless backend providers.
Acropolium’s internal BaaS
Throughout the years that we’ve been developing web and mobile solutions, we saw that many of them require the same typical, standard functions. Why waste time creating them from scratch when we can share them across apps, saving the client’s time and money as a result?
This is how we came up with Acropolium’s very own BaaS platform that allows combining pre-built blocks for efficient app development. The basis of our BaaS platform resembles Firebase, but unlike it or Parse, we allow creating business processes, run server-side functions, execute triggers, and more. Plus, every client’s storage is isolated.
Acropolium teams use the BaaS platform to build websites, SaaS solutions, form builders, workflows, and more.
If you’d like to discover more about the Acropolium’s BaaS platform and looking for implementation experts, don’t hesitate to contact us.
Google’s cross-platform BaaS solution, Firebase has a standard NoSQL database functionality and includes backend features like analytics, authentication, notifications, and more. It also offers an ML Kit (beta) with ready-to-use APIs for text recognition, landmark recognition, and image labeling.
Firebase integrates with an impressive list of Google’s projects: Data Studio, Play Store, AdMob, Google Ads, BigQuery, and more. To start working with Firebase, you’ll need to create a Firebase project, which, in its turn, can include multiple Firebase applications.
The advantages Firebase can boast of are numerous, but we especially like that it’s optimized for offline use and has solid user-based security.
And as far as drawbacks are concerned, you’ll get limited querying capabilities, poor support for iOS, and limited functionality within the free plan. And, naturally, it’s no use for countries where Google is forbidden.
Kinvey, acquired by Progress in 2017, is open-source, has a big list of SDKs for web and mobile and some tools for fast client-side development.
Unlike Firebase, where you can use its features separately, Kinvey provides a single-package backend. Its features include a visual development tool, a serverless platform architecture, a chatbot toolset, a data pipeline, and a native multi-channel that allows reusing code for web and mobile apps.
Kinvey has a free trial for teams of up to 25 members and individuals, but its full plan starts at $200 per month. On the other hand, you get three environments per application and up to 10k B2C users as well.
No surprises here: AWS Amplify is a library that helps developers integrate apps with AWS. It includes data storage, analytics, notifications, authentication, and more.
AWS Amplify integrates with iOS, Android, and React Native apps. And if we talk about web apps, count Angular, Ionic, React, and Flutter into the integrations list. Plus, with AWS Amplify, you can use other Amazon tools such as Cognito Sync, Mobile Analytics, and Pinpoint as well. It’s also a good choice if you need ML and AI capabilities or advanced interactions.
Some of the drawbacks you may experience with AWS Amplify are the steep learning curve, the dynamic nature of the platform (which is constantly being updated), and the inability to use load balances to distribute traffic.
AWS Amplify offers a free 12-month trial with some restrictions, and then a standard pay-as-you-go model is applied.
This serverless backend provider has open-source SDKs, so if Backendless lacks some functionality, you can extend it by coding your own features. Some of the features of this BaaS vendor include authentication, social login, push notification, fast geo queries, data import and export, and advanced analytics. As one of the top serverless hosting providers, it provides two types of hosting — local or cloud on any platform.
Backendless offers flexible payment plans, and its free tier covers a million API calls/month, the storage capacity for five database tables, and 50,000 push notifications. To overcome the limits of some plans, you can buy function packs to enhance the plan without upgrading it.
This is a Parse server hosting platform (Parse was acquired and shut down by Facebook; now it’s open-source) that comes with SDK integration, cloud code functions, autoscaling, smooth database management, geo queries, multi-tenant capability, manageable dashboard, and more.
On the downside, Back4App uses MongoDB as the database for data storage, which might not be the safest since it had some data loss and corruption issues in the past. As for the pricing, the free plan covers 10k requests, 250MB database, and 1 GB storage. All paid plans include 24/7 support in addition to the extended list of features.
These are only five out of the extensive list of the best serverless computing providers. But as you remember we offer our clients — the BaaS platform from Acropolium.
BaaS is a perfect choice to optimize the development process if you’re building an MVP, an SPA, a solution with typical backend features, or a small project that needs to be released quickly.
The choice of BaaS vendors is vast, so be ready to sift through the features serverless backend providers offer to pinpoint the ones necessary for your current project. Web or mobile, Android or iOS, chatbot functionality or ML kit — your choice of the best serverless vendor may differ from project to project.
Also, pay attention to GDPR and HIPAA compliance, the security of data storage, integrations with other services, and the flexibility of payment plans the vendor offers. And if you still don’t know which BaaS provider meets your needs best, don’t worry. Acropolium BaaS implementation expert team is here to help you out — just drop us a line.