The Problem: I want to focus on creating the best possible application that I can, but I spend hours and hours developing the underlying infrastructure. I have to worry about data storage, security, user authentication, scalability and server maintenance, not to mention the cost of the hardware and software to make it all work.
The Solution: The Cloud. Sure it’s a buzz word that most people outside of the IT industry don’t fully understand, but there are a few companies that have created fantastic products that take the hassle out of managing the infrastructure for creating awesome scalable applications. These two companies have most likely changed the lives of thousands of developers for the better, and those two companies are Microsoft and Parse (recently acquired by Facebook).
Each company offers slight variances to their product and pricing, but overall they take almost all the pain out of creating scalable backend for your applications. Both companies offer native SDKs for all major development platforms including iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8 and The Web, so there is no messing around trying to get it to work nicely with your applications. Each offers data storage with Microsoft having the edge with four different storage types including SQL storage. Parse and Microsoft expose their data storage options via REST-ful services, making getting at your data all the simpler.
One important concern is data security breaches, and in the last couple years, numerous Fortune 500 companies have fallen victim to attacks. It takes teams of security developers to keep up with the ever evolving hacking world, and if you aren’t willing to hire the necessary people to maintain your backend, you leave yourself susceptible to massive risk that is now easily avoidable. Both companies offer simplistic yet powerful ways to ensure your data is stored in a secure manner. Each has easy to understand and implement permissions that can be placed on individual objects, or entire data stores with a click of a button. Not to mention that you own none of the infrastructure, thus shifting the responsibility over to the companies that do employ teams that focus solely on ensure their servers are secure.
When it comes to actual authentication, each company offers slight variations. Both companies offer authentication through Facebook and Twitter, with Microsoft adding Google and of course Microsoft accounts, while Parse goes with the more traditional route of allowing the user to create and unique username and password for the specific application. Whichever authentication methods you choose to implement, both are remarkably easy and secure.
Scalability is another large concern when it comes to new applications. It’s almost impossible to determine the exact number of users your application with have and the data they will consume. Investing in too many or too few servers to run your application can be a costly mistake, but by utilizing the services of Parse or Microsoft scaling your application is as easy as clicking a few buttons.
There are a variety of benefits to using either product, but I believe the features above are the most important. I believe Parse and Microsoft have changed the application development game for the better, and can’t wait to see what developers roll out next.
Stay tuned for a more in depth looks at Parse and Microsoft and the services they offer.