Should I Use MBaaS?


After reading reviews of mobile backend services like Firebase, Parse and AWS Amplify I am thinking to use their services for my forthcoming mobile app development projects. Though I still firmly believe that custom development is better than the MBaaS but don't you think for low-budget projects we can try MBaaS?

I did a thorough research about the use of MBaaS, how it exactly works and when and why we need to use them and found these articles https://blog.back4app.com/mbaas/ and https://digitalcruch.com/mbaas-mobile-backend-as-a-service-2021/ very helpful. Withal, after reading these articles, I have the following questions in mind:

What if MBaaS providers service shut-down? Do they offer any guarantee for uptime?

I also heard that with MBaaS, you don't have complete control over your server-side operations. What could be cons of a backend service when you don't have control over it? Could it be risky for your cybersecurity and reputation of application?

I am also afraid of data breach and migration when service goes down? Moreover, do you think SMBs should prefer MBaaS service?

In short, I have your views about the use of MBaaS with limited budget and time. You can also share your experiences with MBaaS providers.

  1. 2

    I haven't really been a backend person, but I built an app a few years back using Firebase's Cloud Firestore for storing data. My biggest concern was getting the security rules right so the data wasn't being openly exposed to the internet. I remember reading several stories about people building apps using Firebase & exposing all user data to the internet, so if you do go this route I'd make sure no data is exposed when using something like Firebase.

    I wouldn't worry about Firebase options going away as it seems to be Google's gateway into getting locked into Google Cloud if you have a successful app, same as I imagine Amplify is with AWS.

  2. 2

    We used Amplify for Pipfeed. It works well for us especially the graphql queries and authentication. Also its AWS hosted so we can use AWS lambda & dynamodb.

    1. 1

      Did you ever face any shutdown or data migration issue with them? Are these self-hosted?

      1. 2

        AWS lambda never went down but the appsync auth did go down once for an hour or so. These aren't really selfhosted they are on AWS cloud.
        Firebase is a lot more stable but it gets expensive as you scale.

  3. 2

    I used backendless and sashido. I always recommend sashido as a backend as service because there are no limits and I have proven it. consider the backendless pros if you're worried. Backendless has been tested for a long time. So I'm sure they won't shut down their services. I use both of these services.

    1. 1

      Thanks for your views. I would definitely consider both of them but I would like to talk with their customer service as a beginner.

  4. 2

    Choose MBaas to rapidly build your app, (enjoying their toolset, reliability and security) whilst giving up your users privacy if it's a free service or alternatively build and maintain a custom equivalent consuming budget (effort, time, money) that could have been spent on what makes your app unique and a winner (including marketing etc).

    Future migration is a great question. Some horror stories exist when using big providers. Back4app is Parse which is open source isn't it so presumably could migrate to self hosted but what do they say about exporting data?

    Services usually have graceful shutdowns but yes theoretical risk it vanishes overnight.

    Best of luck!

    1. 1

      Yes, I am referring data migration and found that Backendless is offering this opportunity within few clicks. However, without experiencing their services, I can't say anything with assurance.

  5. 1

    Using Firebase for most of my project. service is very stable and easy to configure and community just growing, so I’m sure about future of this MBaas. Still, the bigger downside that when you use one functionality you will probably use others, for example Firestore with Storage, and as more you integrate with it, harder to migrate. Also recently i was using Cloud function for free, and at some point of time they make it available only for paid plan - so there no guarantee that price stays same level.

  6. 1

    I had similar issue deciding whether it's worth or not to go into MBaaS solutions. But in the end I've decided to use Firebase and I'm very happy with the choice. It let's me focus on the app and growth instead of backend which is not my strong side. It helped me a lot to go through this tutorials: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_hR4K4auoQ&list=PLl-K7zZEsYLluG5MCVEzXAQ7ACZBCuZgZ

  7. 1

    Skip any of the MBaaS that are not backed by relational databases.

    Do check out Hasura and Supabase which use Postgres.

    1. 1

      What's wrong with NoSQL approach in case of mobile? I'm curious

      1. 1

        Mobile/web/whatever client - doesn't matter. With most businesses the value is in the data (understanding it, presenting it, etc). Good SQL databases like postgres excel at storing, normalizing and presenting data. NoSQL only excels at storing data; good luck trying to do stuff with it. If you really need to, you can just store nonrelational data in a json column type with most modern SQL databases. Your database tech is more important than your languages and frameworks.

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