Earlier this year, Parse announced that it was shutting down, causing waves in the developer community. Hundreds of thousands had grown dependent on the popular mobile backend as a service (MBaaS), using it to host their mobile app data and manage users in the cloudall without the need to learn server-side programming.

To many developers, Parse was a handy shortcut which shifted their focus back to building and optimizing the core app experience—a necessity in world where app retention is an abysmal 23% after only 3 days. It was also complementary to existing tools in the mobile marketing stack, including marketing automation platforms like Carnival. These factors, along with a nearly free pricing structure, made Parse an easy decision to adopt.

But now that Facebook (which acquired Parse in 2013) is sunsetting the service, mobile app developers and agencies face the difficult choice of finding an MBaaS alternative. To help with this process and ensure they meet the January 28, 2017 deadline, we’ve simplified the options to the top five and provide a detailed analysis for each.

1. Kumulos


Overview: An easy-to-use, secure and scalable MBaaS founded in 2010 and popular among mobile agencies and freelancers

Key Features: Multi-platform support, custom data sources, restful API, white-label solution, multi-user architecture, analytics

Technical Support: Free and unlimited (including for Parse migration)

Pricing: $50/month for 100K users, 25GB of file storage and 25M API calls, special 50% off for 3 months for Parse app rebuilds

Ideal Use Case: Developers who manage multiple apps, need a reliable data platform and want to connect with a human quickly when something goes wrong

The team at Carnival have been big fans of Kumulos since their launch a few years ago. According to our CEO, Guy Horrocks:

“Kumulos is an excellent solution for agencies looking to simplify the way they manage mobile data. Their flexibility, support and guidance is unmatched, especially when dealing with complex implementation questions, and their white label option is an elegant way to manage multiple projects. The team really cares about your success, which stands out in a category known for low-touch interactions and self-service.”


2. Firebase


Overview: A popular MBaaS acquired by Google in 2014 and known for its real-time capabilities

Key Features: Multi-platform support, real-time database, user management & authentication, anonymous users, offline functionality, app analytics, push notifications integration with Google’s ad services

Technical Support: Email support during Pacific time business hours, with a limit of 5 technical questions per year for free customers

Pricing: Free for 5GB file storage (Spark), $25/month for 50GB file storage (Flame) or pay-as-you-go option (Blaze), with separate limits for real-time database storage

Parse Migration: Docs

Ideal Use Case: Developers who are looking for a fully-featured MBaaS platform and have real-time data needs


3. AWS Mobile Hub


Overview: A collection of AWS services (Mobile Analytics, Cognito, S3, DynamoDB, CloudFront, Lambda, Device Farm, SNS) bundled into a package for mobile app developers

Key Features: Multi-platform support, high scalability, user management & authentication, data storage, CDN, device testing, analytics

Technical Support: Basic email support and access to product forums, but separate for each service

Pricing: Slightly complicated to calculate and based on the usage of each individual service and, but with generous free tiers

Parse Migration: Docs

Ideal Use Case: Developers who are highly technical (read: comfortable coding in another language), familiar with AWS services and need high scalability for their app


4. Backendless


Overview: A popular MBaaS founded in 2012 and known for its rich feature set and services marketplace

Key Features: User management & authentication, data persistence, web hosting, geolocation, media streaming, analytics, services marketplace

Technical Support: Only on paid tiers (can upgrade on free tiers via support pack), with free access to forums

Pricing: Free on fully-managed cloud with 20GB storage and 50 API calls/second, with various service extensions in marketplace ranging from $5-$50/month each

Parse Migration: Docs

Ideal Use Case: Developers who seek a hassle-free and low-cost option for their app and don’t mind incremental service charges as they scale


5. Parse Server


Overview: A open-source server built by Parse to mimic its original functionality (though not a 100% MBaaS option given the need to self-host)

Key Features: Core functionality such as user management & authentication and push notifications, with more features expected to be released over time

Technical Support: Nonequestions answered ad-hoc by the open-source community

Pricing: Free (excluding the costs of server hosting)

Parse Migration: Docs

Ideal Use Case: Developers looking to minimize client-side changes to their app, but willing to get their hands dirty with server-side programming


As we can see from the services above, mobile app developers have several strong options when migrating from Parse. And while the cost of an MBaaS may be important for some, convenience and peace of mind will be paramount for others. With just a bit of planning and evaluation of these alternative platforms, we’re confident that mobile app developers will keep Parse migration issues to a minimum.

Note: Many MBaaS platforms offer no messaging services, while others only offer basic push. To understand how Carnival can complement your choice of an MBaaS with rich notifications, advanced user segmentation and geo-targeting, send us an email at hello@carnival.io.

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