Front and back ends

What to consider when parsing through your Parse alternatives

What to consider when parsing through your Parse alternatives

At the conclusion of January, Facebook had officially shuttered Parse, disabling the API on an app by app basis.

As a Backend as a Service (BaaS) product, the development platform provided SDKs and APIs that allowed developers to quickly build their apps without having to build a backend from scratch. Facebook did’t present much insight into the motivation to shut down the platform. But Parse’s customers, following the 2013 acquisition, comprised heavily of small to medium sized developers that had a lower propensity to spend.

While Facebook was burdened with having to answer to post-IPO investor concerns about desktop growth plateauing and uncertain mobile revenue, the Parse acquisition was a quick fix, helping secure Facebook’s grasp on widespread mobile adoption.

Despite Parse being the backend backbone for 60,000+ apps at the time of the acquisition, Parse, like many low-cost BaaS solutions, had limitations for businesses and developers who wanted to scale their app. Amazon, Microsoft and Google, who acquired Firebase afterwards, all followed Facebook’s suit, but aggressively doubled down on maximizing the assets in their developer platforms, while Facebook stood pat with Parse after accomplishing what they needed to do to establish their mobile adoption.

Realizing the peak of “mBaas”

The resulting shutdown of Parse should be viewed as a wakeup call to developers that a BaaS solution alone cannot be a long-term choice for sustainable digital, mobile and progressive web businesses.

The 2016 announcement of the shutdown gave developers time to find alternative solutions to migrate their applications. While a BaaS solution facilitates a quick time to market, API-centric development, and innovation, the drawbacks have become more evident.

  • Business data is more likely to be exposed on a cloud-based shared database. Customers starting to value data privacy more will be turned off by a solution that can be exposed with the vulnerabilities of a shared database.
  • As a business grows, extending the backend will be difficult because of the limitations BaaS offers for individual solutions. This will become a concern if your business needs to extend the…