Most of the time, you get to choose between two completely different approaches when building an application’s server side: Backend as a Service (BaaS) or custom backend. What are the differences? What are the advantages of both approaches? Let’s figure it out together.
Backend-as-a-Service or (BaaS) is a subscription-based cloud solution for a large number of business companies. It facilitates building web and mobile applications by enabling developers to link their digital product to a cloud-stored backend via application programming interfaces (APIs) and software development kits (SDKs), examples include Google Firebase and Appwrite.
Speed of Development
Businesses that are on a deadline appreciate backend as a service solutions. BaaS is a ready backend. Once you connect it with your frontend, the app is ready to go live. Such a service can save you weeks or even months of active development. BaaS solutions are preferred for MVP development when it is crucial to cut the time-to-market.
Minimized cost and development effort
To build a functional solution, you need not only enough time but also a significant amount of money. While you can reduce the development expenses by outsourcing development services, you need to remember that a high-quality code comes at a price, even when it’s written by a team for a lower living cost country.
BaaS ensures that you’re not making developers reinvent the wheel. At the end of the day, there's no point in coding elements such as social integration or native notification from scratch if they’re provided by Backend as a Service, is there? Instead, developers can devote their full attention to writing high-quality code accounting for custom modifications.
Wide range of functionalities
The second major advantage of Backend as a Service is that it frees you from the burden of having to look for ways to integrate your app with third-party services. As some of the most common features offered by BaaS providers we could name user authentication (for increased security), social integration (for easy access to third-party apps such as Facebook or LinkedIn), push notifications, or data storage. However, if you take a glance at any of the major BaaS providers’ offerings, such as CloudKit, Kinvey, or Firebase, you’ll notice that they offer much more in a single bundle.
As you have already guessed, is an app backend created from scratch that focuses on specific product needs. In this case, the developer does not have a set of ready-made functions and develops software from scratch based on the customer’s requirements using technologies like Node.js, Ruby on Rails, SpringBoot, etc. Despite all its advantages, custom backend can’t fit every application because of its more complicated development process.
Customization and flexibility
The aim of Backend as a Service platform is to work for many different web and mobile applications. This means that while companies like Firebase offer a wide range of functionalities, they won’t allow you to build a truly unique solution that will make your product stand out from the digital crowd.
In fact, any app that will go beyond the basic CRUD functions will require customization. Just think about an online store. Initially, it may seem like a simple project with no twisted logic added to it. However, if you wish to supplement, let’s say, a platform with a chatbot, customized in-app payment module with subscriptions and views mixing many types of data, you’ll probably need to go beyond the standard BaaS offering.
When going for Backend as a Service, you are bound to stick to the API scheme introduced by its provider. Because the price of the BaaS option of your choice is usually structured around the volume of API requests or volume of data transferred, so once you reach the quota limits, you can expect a performance drop to happen.
Custom backend, on the other hand, entails no limitations on the number of database operations. Developers can tailor API to your product’s needs, thus eliminating the problem of the increased number of API calls. The result? Improved response time, performance, and… you guessed it right, the greater control over costs you bear.
Your backend is yours alone, and it doesn’t depend on any service providers. It will work until you decide to shut it down. This is an extreme advantage over BaaS, which requires you to completely rely on a foreign service that can disappear at any time.
Although it’s a more complicated and expensive way to create application logic, custom backend has strong advantages over BaaS solutions. That’s why it is preferred in many situations:
- Apps with specific features or unique logic Backend as a Service includes an average set of functionality. If your application goes beyond that – custom backend should be your choice, since it allows you to implement any feature you can think of.
- Apps with scalability potential
If your app has the potential to grow, extend functionality and
attract new customers, it is important to have the app backend
that can cope with these challenges. With the right support,
custom backend can keep pace at any scale.
- Apps that process confidential information
Keeping customer data secure is a high priority for every type
of the application, especially when it comes to personal
information or payment data. If this is your case – choose
custom backend. It’s the optimal solution of security-dependent
In conclusion, both solutions are optimal under certain conditions. If a company doesn’t have extensive internal processes, a BaaS solution will suit it. It is a quickly-implemented set of core backend components. If the enterprise is large and the existing BaaS solutions do not cover its needs, it can choose custom development. The last one takes time, but the personalized results and long-term usage are worth it.