Enterprise mobile backend as a service (mBaaS) platforms are a new concept as an enabler of enterprise mobile solutions. Often positioned as an alternative to the traditional mobile enterprise application platforms (MEAPs), enterprise mBaaS platforms provide a lightweight mechanism to for enabling backend capabilities to enterprise mobile apps via mobile APIs. In that sense, enterprise mBaaS platforms are not only compared against MEAPs but to other API alternatives such as SOA infrastructures or API Gateways.

Contrasting with home grown alternatives, API Gateways such as CA Layer7 or Intel Mashery offer an enterprise ready alternative to virtualize APIs that can be used by different client applications including mobile solutions. However, API gateways should not be positioned as an enterprise mobile platform. For starters, API gateways and enterprise mBaaS platforms try to address two very different problems. While API Gateways focus on the design and virtualization of enterprise APIs, enterprise mBaaS platforms focus on providing backend capabilities to enterprise mobile apps. Additionally, enterprise mBaaS platforms provide a series of mobile-first backend capabilities that have no equivalent in API gateway platforms.

At a high level, you might still see some overlap between API Gateways and enterprise mBaaS platforms, but the differences become very obvious when implementing enterprise mobile solutions. To cite an example, while an API gateway will help to virtualize a service API that integrates with SAP, an enterprise mBaaS platform provides mobile-first SAP connectors that can be used from various mobile app development platforms. Additionally, enterprise mBaaS platforms enable horizontal mobile-first infrastructure capabilities such as storage, identity management, logging, media distribution among many others that are often required when building enterprise mobile apps. These type of horizontal capabilities are typically not present in API gateways.

The following matrix provides a more detailed comparison between APi gateways an enterprise mBaaS platforms.

Aspect

API Gateways

Enterprise MBaaS(KidoZen)

Main Focus
  • API brokerage, security and management
  •  Enabling backend to enterprise mobile apps
Mobile-First Capabilities
  • Not focus on mobile app enablement (no concept of a mobile app)
  • The entire platform is created around the concept of a mobile apps.
  • Include mobile app store
APIs
  • Built by the customer
  • Native enterprise systems connectors and horizontal infrastructure APIs
Mobile infrastructure
  • Requires the customer to provision a custom infrastructure for their mobile apps
  • Storage, logging, configuration, queuing and other infrastructure capabilities are included in the platform
  • The mobile store is the mechanism to provision and manage those capabilities
Mobile client integration
  • Brokered APIs can be invoked from mobile clients
  • Enable mobile-first client infrastructure such as offline communications, inter-app communication, app crashing monitoring etc
Deployment topology
  • Mostly deployed as an on-premise solution
  • Private, hybrid and public cloud deployments
Integration with other mobile-first technologies
  • Doesn’t provide native integration with mobile backend or management platforms
  • Integration with MDM, MAM and mobile testing platforms
Community/Talent
  • Small community, focus on Dev Ops and mostly focused on the API Gateway technology
  • Able to leverage mobile app development communities