Leveraging mobile services is now a must for modern businesses. While building a website is still vital, many consumers now access the internet mainly via their smartphones, using apps to communicate with others, discover new products, consume content and complete online purchases.

However, developing, deploying and maintaining your mobile app can be costly and time-consuming. This is where Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS) can help. With MBaaS, businesses can focus on designing the frontend of their mobile apps without worrying about creating the complex backend infrastructure to go with it. Instead, backend services are managed by the MBaaS provider, giving you more time to work on frontend development and get your app ready quicker.

Let’s take a closer look at what MBaaS is, how it works, and its main features and benefits.

What is MBaaS?

MBaaS stands for Mobile Backend as a Service. You may have heard similar terms before if you’re familiar with cloud computing, such as Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

Similar to these other cloud services, MBaaS is a cloud-based service that provides users with an environment managed by a cloud service provider. For MBaaS, this cloud environment consists of backend infrastructure that can be used for mobile app development. This infrastructure handles all of the server-side components you need for a mobile app, including push notifications, API services, databases, authentication and file storage.

To use these services, you must connect your app’s backend resources to a provider’s MBaaS product. You can then integrate the provider’s SDKs (software development kits) into your app, using these SDKs to connect your API endpoints to frontend clients, such as iOS and Android mobile applications. Plus, these SDKs can contain access to the MBaaS provider’s pre-made APIs, such as APIs for push notifications.

With access to a pre-built backend infrastructure for your mobile app, which will handle vital services like API management and database management, you’ll have more time to focus on frontend development, which is much more concerned with UX and good UI design. This means you can greatly speed up the process of mobile app development.

MBaaS vs BaaS

MBaaS is very similar to Backend as a Service (BaaS), but the latter is mainly used to refer to the development of larger web-based applications. Since BaaS is designed for large web applications, its storage capabilities can be greater.

Although MBaaS can now support web apps too, it primarily provides backend functionality for mobile apps.

What does MBaaS do?

An MBaaS platform is used to connect essential backend services to the frontend development of a mobile app. This means your developers can focus solely on the frontend, knowing that the development and maintenance of backend services (e.g. database management, push notifications, file storage, API management) has already been taken care of by the MBaaS provider.

But what exactly are these essential backend services, and how does MBaaS handle them?

1. Database management

MBaaS platforms will often include a form of database management. However, the scope of this management can vary, as not all MBaaS platforms will provide you with the ability to actually build a database. Instead, your MBaaS provider may only be able to interact with your external database, rather than building one within the platform.

2. Data storage

MBaaS platforms also boast data storage capabilities. Users can store structured and unstructured data in this backend environment, which is essential for building mobile apps. Thanks to MBaaS’s cloud storage, developers can build apps that retrieve, store and sync user data without having to create and manage the backend infrastructure to facilitate this.

3. Infrastructure management

Managing your own server infrastructure for mobile app development can be extremely time-consuming. Server management could be a full-time job for your developers, especially if you’re experiencing a lot of traffic. However, MBaaS can take server management off your plate by providing a pre-built backend infrastructure for you. This infrastructure is managed entirely by your MBaaS provider, who’ll take care of key tasks like server provisioning, database management and application monitoring.

4. API management

Your MBaaS platform’s API services will take care of data processing and backend logic for your app, helping it perform functions such as payment processing, geocoding, file manipulation and more. With MBaaS, these APIs will be easily integrated with your app, which means you won’t have to spend time on managing APIs or coding them from scratch.

5. User management

Many MBaaS platforms include user management functionality, meaning that users can register an account and log in. These user management services also enable account recovery, authorisation and authentication, which are essential for both security and customer experience.

6. Push notifications

Push notifications allow apps to send alerts to users even when the app isn’t active. Thanks to the backend logic and API services provided by MBaaS, your app will be able to use certain conditions to send messages to your customers, helping to build a better user experience.

7. Analytics 

To improve your mobile app, it’s important to gather data on app usage and customer behaviour. MBaaS makes this easier than ever by consistently gathering analytics and providing data for reports. With this data, you can spot trends and monitor bugs and crashes, allowing you to get a better idea of how to improve your app and appeal to more customers.

Benefits of MBaaS

Since MBaaS can provide so many essential backend services, it’s easy to see why more and more businesses are turning to this cloud solution to improve the app development process. But what exactly are the benefits you can expect from using an MBaaS platform?

1. Faster app development

Using MBaaS means you don’t have to build your own complex backend infrastructure, as you can simply use the pre-built backend services provided by the MBaaS platform. This means your developers only need to focus on the frontend, and the entire app development process can become much quicker.

2. Improved frontend development and user experience

Because you don’t need to spend time on backend development, you can dedicate more time to getting the frontend aspects 100% right. The frontend of your app is what your customers actually see and interact with, so with this extra time to fine tune the UI/UX design, you can ensure your mobile app is exactly what your customers are looking for.

3. Cost savings

Although there’s an initial investment into the MBaaS platform, you can end up saving money over time. Hiring costs can be lowered as you may not need as many developers (especially backend developers), and you won’t need to invest as much money into lining up infrastructure resources to create and manage your own backend services.

4. No server management

Managed cloud services like MBaaS take time-consuming server management off your plate. Your MBaaS provider will handle essential maintenance tasks like installing updates, creating backups, optimising performance and general server administration, so all you need to do is focus on app development.

5. Scalability

Since MBaaS is a cloud service, you’ll typically benefit from a lot of scalability and flexibility. For example, MBaaS customers can scale their resources up and down as needed. This means you only pay for what you actually use, making MBaaS a highly cost-effective service.

6. Security

Your mobile app will likely be handling a lot of sensitive customer data (such as payment details), so it’s vital that all of this information is kept secure to maintain customer trust. MBaaS platforms can easily encrypt data to improve the security of your app.

MBaaS best practices

Interested in getting started with MBaaS for app development? Before you begin, it’s important to familiarise yourself with certain best practices. This will help you get the most out of your MBaaS platform and ensure a smooth transition.

  • Check that your current software tools can be integrated into the MBaaS platform seamlessly. This will help you avoid irritating compatibility issues and get started straight away.
  • Keep track of notifications and updates from your MBaaS provider. They’ll be in charge of general server management, but you still need to stay aware of any potential issues that could arise during the app development process.
  • Set realistic deadlines for app development. MBaaS can greatly speed up the development process, but this doesn’t mean you can rush. You still need plenty of time to develop the frontend properly and test the app thoroughly before launching.
  • Weigh up the costs. MBaaS can save you money if it’ll reduce your web hosting costs or save you the hassle of hiring a backend developer, but you need to compare your potential savings with the cost of paying for this service to decide if it’s worth it.

Cloud services like MBaaS provide unparalleled flexibility, scalability and power for your projects, whether you’re developing a mobile app, building a website or creating an online store. Want to learn more about what you can do when you move to the cloud? Chat to our sales team.