At A Glance – Backend as a Service (BaaS)

Now, even services are delivered as a service

Backend as a Service (BaaS) is a serverless cloud computing service model. It gives developers a way to connect mobile and web applications to the cloud without building new backends for every service that the applications need to access. 

By using the APIs and software development kits provided by BaaS vendors, developers can outsource ‘behind the scenes’ software and focus on the frontend – the user interface – instead. BaaS is important because it signifies the increasing freedom and power of developers. Rather than grappling with complicated and time consuming backend processes, they can build and launch applications much faster.

While BaaS makes life easier for users, it also ties them to the vendor. Once a provider – such as Google Firebase or Microsoft Azure – has been chosen, the frontend applications become heavily dependent on them. It can also be difficult to migrate to a new vendor: this is known as vendor lock in, and is a key tactic for big tech companies who want to sit at the centre of business ecosystems. 

This is another factor behind the rise of BaaS – it benefits companies without the resources to fully manage applications, but it also benefits the vendors, who create a relationship of dependency. Other cloud based options like Platform as a Service (PaaS) provide more flexibility, but also require more internal management.

Backend as a Service represents the current shift from product-based business to service provision, and also the growing popularity of cloud technology. The model is linked to the expansion of developer capability, reducing software administration so that more attention can be given to the user interfaces that customers see. 

BaaS offers a get-out clause for complex backend management which has been particularly helpful for fast moving startups and agile, disruptive businesses. However, when handing so much reliability over to an external party, choosing the right vendor is critical.

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