Yesterday Parse, one of the leading mobile backend as a service (MBaaS) offerings, announced that they would be closing their doors. This leaves the 600,000 developers that use their service with one question: What should I do?
Option 1: Install and Use Parse Server on Your Own
Parse has provided a path forward by open-sourcing Parse Server and providing a database migration tool to export data to MongoDB.
When evaluating this option be sure to take into consideration the cost, effort, and risk associated with operating and maintaining the software on your own ‒ they are significant.
Option 2: Migrate to Another Service Provider
When choosing another service provider don’t overlook the key risks of vendor and service viability. You should choose a vendor that has long term viability and the service is core to the provider's business model.
As an example, Facebook may have long-term viability as a vendor, but the Parse service is not core to their business model. As a result, Facebook decided that further investment in the Parse service offering did not make sense from a business perspective and discontinued offering the service. And they are not alone - recently, Dropbox deprecated their sync and datastore APIs to focus on their Core API and PayPal shut down StackMob to focus on their core payment business.
Under these same conditions, it is reasonable to expect other service providers with similar characteristics to make similar moves in the future.
Option 3: Migrate to Installed Database Software
Avoiding the risks of service-based offerings means using a solution that you control when and where it runs. This option comes with the added complexity of managing hardware (which can be minimized using services like AWS and Google Compute Engine) but you don’t run the risk of a shutdown that is completely outside your control.
Couchbase Mobile, our open-source NoSQL database for mobile, is one such solution. It includes an embedded NoSQL database, a database server, multi-master synchronization, enterprise level user/role based security, data change events, REST APIs, and Stream & Batch APIs. Couchbase Mobile is used in mission critical applications by large companies like GE and Ryanair and startups like CrowdComfort.
If you would like to learn more about how to choose a database for your mobile apps, check out the article I wrote on that subject.
So Now What?
If you’re building mission critical applications, don’t bet your entire business on your backend service provider. Choose an option that isolates you from shutdown risk and focuses on choosing technologies and strategies that allow you to quickly get to market and ensure your business viability for the long term.