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What is MBaaS? How its helps Enterprise mobile application development?

Sumi Joseph

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MBaaS (Mobile Backend as a Service)

We have been introduced to the MBaaS model during the year 2015. We had a client requirement which demanded Office 365 authentication. MBaaS models were one of the emerging players and we decided to find a robust solution from them based on our feature set and we were very happy with the outcome. Before moving on to the details let’s see what initiated the emergence of MBaaS.

Usually when we setup a cross platform application (iPhone, Android, and Windows) we need to put some core components in place:
– Server
– Database
– Services
– User management and security
– Push notifications

We can start building our application once these are in place. But there is significant effort in setting up and configuring all the components. This is where MbaaS comes in. The benefit of MBaaS is that it cuts down the time and effort in configuring the Server, Database, Services and other components such as push notifications etc. since all of these are included as part of MBaaS. Another core benefit of MBaaS is its support of applications among multiple platforms.

Let’s look at some of the MbaaS platforms that we have worked on:

1. Microsoft Azure

Azure’s active directory and app services supports web and mobile capabilities for any platform or device.

Some of the areas where Azure works really well are:
– Azure Active Directory (Azure AD), which supports easy single sign-on access to Office 365 from mobile and web applications and thus give more security to the application
– Azure App services, which supports both mobile and web applications
– Azure App services also support a variety of languages such as C#, Node.js, Java, PHP & Python, as backend language, which provides a lot of flexibility.
– Seamless Visual Studio integration through which creation, deployment and debugging of the backend and DB can be easily managed.
– Works well for file storage
– Support for website hosting via Azure’s Continuous Deployment and Local GIT Repository feature, for cases where companion web apps is a requirement.
– Easy scalability based on requirement and support for high availability configuration.

Reference:
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/active-directory/active-directory-whatis
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/app-service/app-service-value-prop-what-is

2. Parse

Parse support both web and mobile platforms and is used for small projects with the constraints of limited time and less resource.

Advantages of Parse are:
– The learning curve for Parse is gradual because of its simplicity
– Easily manage and configure the app, Data storage, File storage and Push notifications with minimum effort via the Parse Dashboard
– Complex custom logic is supported in the backend with Cloud Code functionality
– Support for website hosting is also available

Reference:
http://parseplatform.org/

There are other MBaaS options available that may be appropriate based on needs such as speed to market (for the product), learning curve, enterprise level features required etc. Please find the below links to learn more:
https://aws.amazon.com/mobile/
https://cloud.google.com/docs/