What Is BaaS (Backend as a Service)? Definition and Usage

Backend as a service (BaaS) products handle the basic, repetitive tasks you need for smooth web or mobile applications. They free up time, allowing developers to focus on writing and maintaining the pieces users see and touch. 

The BaaS market is huge and growing every year. Plenty of BaaS providers are fighting for your attention and your company's dollars. But should you buy?

Let’s dig into what these products are and how they work so you can make a wise purchasing decision.

What Is BaaS? 

Your manager asked you to create an application for your potential customers. You don't have anything like this right now, so you're starting from scratch. Do it without a BaaS, and each task is yours. Hire BaaS providers, and you can push off some of the work. 

You'll build the user interface and client-side logic. Your BaaS contractor will provide features such as these:

  • Cloud storage 
  • Database management 
  • Email verification 
  • Geolocation 
  • Hosting
  • Push notifications 
  • Security settings 
  • Social integration
  • Updating 
  • User authentication

Every app needs these basic pieces to function. Without a BaaS, you must code and create them every time, all by yourself. The time you save by hiring a contractor could be crucial. 

For example, an app provider faced significant negative press after a tool it made for the Democratic caucus in Iowa was defective. A BaaS might save you embarrassment like this, as you could spend more time testing and perfecting code before it launches. And you'll be building on technology that hundreds of companies that came before you have already tested.

baas-graphic

How Does BaaS Work? 

Most tools in the BaaS market run in the cloud, and they work best with companies that are doing the same. 

It's common for vendors to build BaaS products in layers.

  • Foundation: Servers appear here. Some run your programs, and others back up your information. 
  • Applications: BaaS products handle requests (such as logins) at this layer. 
  • Connections: The application servers access the internet at this layer. 

An API and SDK work as a bridge between what happens at the frontend (which users see) and the backend (which handles security and data). 

If your app is incredibly successful, you may draw in plenty of users in a short timeframe. All of their requests and logins can drain your server's capacity.

In a perfect world, your BaaS tool would scale up to accept the traffic. Unfortunately, some tools don’t work this way. If you’re facing more traffic, you’d need to contact your BaaS vendor and ask for help.

baas-graphic-2

What Sets BaaS Apart?

Anything a company could offer "as a service" ends with "-aaS." You've likely seen many terms just like this. 

BaaS differs from other tools such as:

  • Platform as a Service (PaaS). Tools like this allow for easy management of an app. But PaaS vendors don't offer things like user authentication or push notifications.
  • Mobile backend as a Service (mBaaS). Some BaaS products can handle mobile applications. But BaaS can also work on things that aren't designed for a mobile environment. mBaaS products are exclusively mobile solutions. 
  • Serverless computing. BaaS and serverless computing are very similar. But serverless applications react to events, and they can run on any machine connected to the internet. 

Think of these options as competitors to BaaS. You wouldn't need all four of these items to enhance your programs and your apps. You'll pick one and stick with it. 

How Can Okta Help? 

Our Customer Identity solutions allow you to secure your platform and accelerate development. You'll tap into standard libraries and protocols. And you'll rest easy knowing that all of your work is protected.

We'd love to tell you more about how this works. Find out more.

References

Cloud Mobile Backend as a Service (BaaS) Market Worth $5.9 Billion by 2025. Markets and Markets. 

App Behind Democratic Iowa Caucus Debacle Was So Rushed It Lacked Apple App Store Approval. (February 2020). Mac Daily News.