06/14/23

Backend as a Service (BaaS): What is it?

What is BaaS and how is it different?

4 Min Read

Developing applications involve a variety of challenges, among which setting up and managing the backend tends to be notably time-consuming. This entails aspects like server setup, database management, API creation, and more. However, with the rise of cloud computing, a model called Backend as a Service (BaaS) has emerged that promises to simplify backend management. This article explores what BaaS offers, along with its potential benefits and considerable drawbacks.

What is Backend as a Service?

Backend as a Service, or BaaS, is a cloud service model that provides developers with a ready-made backend solution. It essentially handles all the backend necessities, including server management, data storage, user authentication, push notifications, and real-time updates. This allows developers to focus more on creating an enhanced frontend experience.

Key Features of BaaS

  1. Serverless Architecture: BaaS platforms utilize the concept of serverless computing, absolving developers from the complexities of server management and scaling.
  2. Data Storage and Management: BaaS providers offer database solutions that take care of data storage, retrieval, and management.
  3. User Authentication: BaaS platforms provide in-built services for user authentication, supporting various authentication methods such as email/password, social login, and more.
  4. APIs: BaaS solutions offer pre-built APIs for various functionalities, obviating the need for developers to create these APIs from scratch.

Pros and Cons of BaaS

Like any technology, BaaS brings along a set of strengths and weaknesses:

Pros

  • Accelerates Development: BaaS takes over many time-consuming backend responsibilities, allowing developers to focus on frontend development and hastening the overall development process.
  • Cost-Efficient: By eliminating the need for an in-house backend team and infrastructure, BaaS can lead to significant cost savings.

Cons

  • Vendor Lock-In: The most significant risk with BaaS is vendor lock-in. Migration to a different platform can be a daunting and expensive task if the current BaaS provider no longer fulfills your needs.
  • Lack of Control: Employing BaaS implies a relinquishment of control over your application's backend. If you require high levels of customization or have complex backend needs, BaaS might not be your best bet.
  • Unpredictable Scalability: While BaaS providers promise seamless scalability, real-world experiences often vary. Unexpected traffic spikes can lead to scalability issues, impacting your application's performance and user experience.

BaaS Use Cases and the Long-term Perspective

On paper, BaaS seems beneficial for mobile and web app developers, offering a much simpler development process, particularly for those requiring a swift go-to-market strategy. Startups and small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs), with their limited resources, might also see the cost-efficiency and simplicity of BaaS as appealing.

However, in the long run, the limitations of BaaS often outweigh its benefits. The lack of flexibility and customization can impede your application's ability to evolve with your business needs. The possibility of running into scalability issues also poses a significant risk, especially as your user base grows.

In conclusion, while Backend as a Service (BaaS) might seem like an attractive choice in the early stages of application development, it often falls short in the long run due to its inherent lack of flexibility and potential scalability concerns. Therefore, it is crucial to assess your long-term needs and growth strategy before opting for a BaaS solution.

Try something different

As you consider your options for a backend solution, we’d like to explain how Encore differs from other Platforms and Backend services. We call it a backend development platform, but it’s altogether different from your other PaaS or BaaS providers.

  1. Encore provides an Infrastructure SDK that you call as part of your regular application code. This gives you a simple way to use common infrastructure, while retaining complete freedom to step outside the framework when needed. This approach mitigates many of the control issues often associated with conventional BaaS providers.
  2. Unlike BaaS solutions, Encore deploys your application using regular cloud services in AWS and GCP, automatically provisioned in your own cloud account.
  3. Encore is open-source and has a built-in "eject" command. If you decide to stop using Encore at any point, you can easily migrate your services away from Encore, thus reducing the risk of vendor lock-in.
  4. Encore offers a predictable fixed pricing of $39 per team member.

Ready to escape the hamster wheel?

Encore is Backend Development Platform purpose-built for creating event-driven and distributed systems — from developing locally to scaling in your cloud on AWS/GCP.