Kids these days! There they are, creating all their little mobile apps, yet too many of them aren’t considering the possibilities provided by connections to other apps. That, at least, is the view of Cloudbase.io founder Stefano Buliani, whose London-based backend-as-a-service (BaaS) outfit wants to make it easier to both plug in and cash in.
As part of reaching that objective, Cloudbase.io has launched a shared API to encourage data-sharing between apps. By way of example, someone coming up with a Foursquare-like idea could decide to use Cloudbase.io to build their application. Cloudbase.io would handle the backend for that app, and the developer could tell the BaaS provider to let other apps access their shared API, allowing those apps to draw on the app’s check-in data and creating opportunities for business deals down the line.
As Buliani told me:
“What I found everywhere [as I was promoting] Cloudbase.io was that everybody with a background as a backend developer instantly got it. Mobile developers were questioning the need for their application to be connected to the internet. Most mobile developers are only mobile developers; they’ve never done anything else before – never worked on websites, for example. They had this mentality of building the small game for mobile.
“The premise for the idea is that we want mobile applications to become platforms. We want them to be able to publish their own layer of APIs, even though it’s hosted on Cloudbase.io. Cloudbase.io becomes invisible in the background. We want to encourage them to be as ambitious as possible and think of themselves as a platform. It’s a chicken-and-egg game of course – what came first, the business or the API? – but we want them to be prepared for it.”
This perspective is unsurprising coming from Buliani, a developer (he was part of the early Covestor team) who became a management consultant in London’s financial heart before returning to tech. But then again, Cloudbase.io is not the only company trying to help smalltime developers think bigger.
So what about rivals such as Parse? According to Buliani, there’s a “philosophical difference” between the two outfits.
“The easiest example is, if you want to build an application on top of Parse you have to register the users of your application within that framework, so your application will have to have authentication. With Cloudbase.io you can have no authentication — it’s entirely up to you,” he said, adding that he was proud of the fact that all of Cloudbase.io’s libraries are open source and available on Github.
As with Parse, it’s free to register with Cloudbase.io and get going. Once the app’s in an app store, users need to start paying – the most basic account costs $11.99 a month, which comes with a gigabyte of data exchange. Above that are professional ($47.99 for 8GB) and enterprise ($119.99 for 20GB) tiers, with the possibility of negotiated pricing for higher volumes.
Users should take note of how data exchange volume pricing works with the shared API. If the app accessing data from the original, Cloudbase.io-using app is also using the same BaaS platform, it’s that second app that gets charged. If the second app is off-platform, it will obviously be the original app’s developers who get charged (it might be smart to publish the shared API but keep it password protected).
Incidentally, for those developers who need as much help as possible, Cloudbase.io also partnered up last month with MoSync, a provider of open-source tools for building mobile applications. The idea there is for MoSync to allow the building and compiling of the apps, with Cloudbase.io adding in the connectivity, geo-location and social pieces.
(And on another note, cloud infrastructure and data-sharing will definitely be on the agenda for discussion at our Structure:Europe conference, which will run in London on September 18-19.)