You may have seen this drama play out before …
Act 1: Entrepreneurs see a problem emerging and start new companies to fix it.
Act 2: Giant tech companies gradually awaken to the gap in their offerings. First they discount it. Then they study it. Then they decide to build, buy, or partner to bolster their juggernauts.
This familiar theater is playing out in the Backend as a Service (BaaS) industry. In Act 1, start-ups like Kinvey saw that inefficiencies in backend development were impeding app development. Specifically, developers had to write the same backend code, over and over, for every mobile app they published. Different developers would write these components in different ways, so recycling code was difficult. So the BaaS industry emerged to create a “middleware for mobile” — unifying the code, making it available to developers in neatly ordered, standardized libraries, that scaled well in the cloud.
In Act 2, a new set of performers — base-level infrastructure players, like IaaS and PaaS giants — have taken the stage. Whether through partnerships (Rackspace), product development (Google, Salesforce), or acquisition (Intel, Facebook), they are making carefully orchestrated moves on both sides of the curtain. Yet when it comes to the “built” solutions, we agree with GigaOm, which said the pure-play BaaS providers “offer broader feature sets and support for numerous mobile platforms.” But the broader message — that the larger infrastructure players are considering mobile backend services to be a strategic overlay on top of PaaS — is a critical realization for the industry. Said another way, PaaS can extend the functionality of BaaS. And to this end, Google has, quite literally, doubled down on its commitment by first announcing its own Android-specific BaaS for lightweight consumer apps, and then partnering with Kinvey to provide a solution for those developing sophisticated, cross-platform consumer apps and secure, data-intensive enterprise apps.
On Monday, Google announced their Mobile Backend Starter product, based on Google App Engine, which provides a viable BaaS option for many Android applications. Then, two days later, Google expanded their offerings by partnering with Kinvey to provide a full-featured BaaS platform for enterprises to securely mobilize their ISV applications and legacy data. Together the companies will provide enterprise developers with access to advanced BaaS features including security, online-offline caching, as well as a simplified way to run complex code on Google App Engine’s Platform as a Service.
We are thrilled to be part of this fast-moving drama. And we’re eager to see the curtains open for Act 3. What do you think we’ll see next?