The urgency to develop and deploy mobile apps has never become clearer since the recent announcement of the Apple/IBM partnership. However, such requirements extend beyond those enterprises that can afford the costs that might come with such a high profile partnership. I've been interested in seeing under the hood of a Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS) offering because it's turn on infrastructure for mobile apps.
I've spent some time checking out the latest Kinvey MBaaS beta and color me impressed.
Inside Kinvey MBaaS
The Kinvey MBaaS user experience is simple yet elegant and doesn't leave you with that "locked in" feeling when a vendor tries to get you to follow their proprietary development process. Figure A shows the My Apps page that greets you when you first login:
When you move some or all of your mobile app development efforts to Kinvey, you don't have to worry about mobile app technology lock in. You start developing your mobile app from the backend. The Create a new app backend page (Figure B) includes the following development options:
- Rest API
For purposes of this article, I selected iOS and clicked Create App. I then had options to go into the development environment, and change my account plan and settings.
Using the Kinvey development dashboard
The Kinvey Development dashboard is simple yet graceful and includes a full range of views into important application management data including total users, total API calls (last 24 hours), data storage (bytes), and file storage. Figure C shows how the Development dashboard appears prior to developing and deploying your first mobile app:
The full suite of documentation includes guides, samples, tutorial, and a reference are a nice professional touch. While an MBaaS such as Kinvey still requires programmers, these materials can help extend knowledge to programmers using Kinvey MBaaS to develop their first mobile app. The materials probably aren't enough to get a non-programmer up to speed but I'm sure there are business analysts and some other power users who may have built their first app using examples from the documentation.
Managing users with Kinvey
Securing user access to mobile apps is made easy with Kinvey out of the box with minimal configuration. You have the following options for connecting users with mobile apps you develop in Kinvey:
There are also more enterprise grade authentication options including:
Managing application data with Kinvey
There are a number of data links available to third party sources. Enterprise mobile app developers should not that Kinvey links to the following sources:
- Salesforce CRM
- Microsoft Dynamics
There's also a custom data option available with some Kinvey plans that will enable you to create your own data connector to a data source not found on the list.
Business logic and Kinvey
Kinvey also includes business logic support right out the box including collection hooks (_blob, user), end points and common code. If working with business logic for you tends to be a trial and error affair, there's a Rollback option that requires only two clicks.
File management and Kinvey
File management options let you manage file upload and download from third party services. Kinvey doesn't directly serve or accept files. Kinvey enables and downloads files using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) which supports:
- Other application specific files
Push notifications and Kinvey
You can configure push notifications in either Android or iOS apps using just two fields. There's no complex programming involved. Figure D shows the simplicity of the Push Notifications option:
Under settings, you can specify administrators and collaborators plus manage their API keys and API version. The settings are explained well so as long as developer's read
There's also an option to destroy an app from this page. It sounds to me sort of like a mobile app developer's doomsday settings because the warning message describes it as "This will permanently destroy this app, including all the data in Kinvey-backed collections and all business logic. This cannot be undone."
Kinvey also enables you to control branding over new user verification emails and password resets. Both messages are fully customizable, and your users never need to know that Kinvey is running the backend of your application.
Kinvey plans and pricing
My Kinvey beta plan was based on a free starter package. There's a full range of plans and pricing to accommodate independent through enterprise developers.
As I wrote in 5 Ways Google/Android can counter the Apple/IBM partnership, MBaaS can be part of the mix to counter the Apple/IBM partnership, and there's definitely a market beyond that with enterprises that have more apps to mobilize than there is developer time.
I expect to see and hear more about Kinvey as MBaaS grows and matures into a mobile app development solution for enterprises of all sizes. You should definitely check out the Kinvey platform if your enterprise is seeking a new way to develop and deploy apps cost effectively and efficiently.
Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management applications, Google Apps, Microsoft technologies, and online collaboration for TechRepublic and other sites. Will also works as a contract technical writer for clients in the Washington, DC area and nationwide. Follow Will on Twitter: @willkelly.