BaaS or Custom Backend: How to Decide Dilemma?

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BaaS is the rapid implementation of standard systems. Custom backend is personalized software from scratch. What’s suitable for your company?

Internal process design is the core of any business. Everything that an ordinary customer sees is the result of internal systems working. And the more coordinated interaction, the better service the clients will receive. Recently, the creation of a unified ecosystem instead of the independent systems functioning support has become a trend. Let’s consider how exactly do entrepreneurs solve this problem?

About the Backend in Plain

Remember the usual separation of processes in IT development? All the components that the client can see and feel are the frontend ones and vice versa: everything on the server-side (away from the prying customer eyes) is the backend. The logic is clear. The same goes for any enterprise. All of its internal systems, such as finance, HR, and others, form a back office.

Backend is a set of software that allows boosting the interaction between the above components, helping each of them to perform its functions. Thus, all special software used, for example, by an officer at the Walmart headquarters, can be classified as a backend development in the business sector.

The backend software and hardware systems are complicated in large companies. Whereas small and medium-sized businesses cover several basic internal processes to stay afloat. But it’s not enough. An appropriate backend must have the following features and perform the following tasks:

  • flexibility to change in case of the business environment changes,
  • keeping an integration between internal systems in real-time to process information faster and efficiently,
  • scalability, since the company always assumes development, which means an increase in the number of customers, employees, information,
  • supporting modern technologies 5G, Cloud, IoT, AI, etc.
  • having a convenient, one-stop-shop interface. It enables to simplify the interaction with the software and speed up the training process of new employees,
  • allowing multi-tenant management, which means that every employee has free access to data and can use it to perform his job functions,
  • provision a high level of information security and safety without any loss or distortion.

The essence of a perfect business backend model is to automate all processes and minimize the maintenance from the staff side.

Nevertheless, companies are still at the stage of transition to fully automated processes, so businesses are looking for something multifunctional and convenient for their staff at the same time.

How do enterprises get their backend software? They have two ways:

  1. buying box solution (Backend-as-a-Service) or
  2. ordering a custom development backend

Each approach has its benefits and drawbacks, so the choice primarily depends on the current situation and the needs of a particular company. But first things first.

BaaS Platform Features

Backend-as-a-Service or (BaaS) is a subscription-based cloud solution for a large number of business companies. It enables to rule by several internal fields (like messaging, analytics, push notifications, cloud storage, social integrations, etc.)

The vendor develops BaaS by analyzing a specific business segment. It tries to solve the most global backend problems in any industry.

“It lacks when it comes to running complex queries in the backend which are long scripts. The performance gets downgraded at that time when the complex queries are getting executed, and the processing time is long. Also, it is not an ideal tool for someone who wants to build an app having a customized backend with full control.”

Source: G2 about the Progress Kinvey BaaS

BaaS Benefits and Drawbacks


Scalability. The solution is designed for a large number of users, which means it has durable Cloud data storage. It enables to save data without loss.

Quick implementation (5 weeks). The period of buying and commissioning is relatively short and covers the stages of analyzing the current company’s condition, searching for a suitable vendor solution, purchasing, and the implementation itself.

All built-in functions integrate seamlessly with the existing company software.


Adaptability. BaaS cannot be changed to suit particular company requirements. It leads to a certain dependence on the vendor. Thus, only a supplier can make changes to this software, providing users with an updated version.

Safety. Since BaaS solutions are designed for many subscriber companies, their data is always under the threat of disclosure and unauthorized usage.

Customization. The vendor cannot consider the requirements of each company. Therefore, the BaaS solution is suitable not for all businesses.

Custom Backend: Why Do Companies Choose It?

The essence of a custom backend, as well as custom development in general, is that a vendor designs software following the direct client’s order. Thus, it’s possible to build or transform a backend system due to customized solutions. In this case, the supplier does not have a set of ready-made functions and develops software from scratch based on the customer’s requirements. The solutions will be used exclusively by the last one.

Benefits And Drawbacks of a Custom Backend


Personalized approach. To develop this set of solutions, the vendor analyzes only the condition and needs of a particular company. Based on them, the software will fully meet the customer’s requirements.

Vendor independence. Intellectual property rights to the development results are transferred to the client after the project completion. Thus, the customer’s IT team can change the system components whenever the company needs it.

Complete security. Customer data will be securely saved since no one else uses custom backend software.


Time and effort. Development from scratch takes on average 4.5 months, but it all depends on the project complexity. Working on a custom backend requires a detailed analysis of the company’s current situation, project planning, development, testing, and gradual deployment. Thus, it takes significantly more time and resources than a BaaS solution implementation.

High price. The client needs to be financially ready for the development process as well as for ongoing software support, which also requires financial resources.

Professional team. Development requires not only skills and knowledge but an understanding of which specific product can suit the customer. Only experienced specialists can develop a versatile backend solution.

Thus, the custom backend will always meet the user’s needs. However, such a solution is time and money consuming.

BaaS Projects: How Does It Look?

Game app

A real-time turn-based game Magic21 created as a multilayer. To provide a real time battle, it’s developer used Unity C# as a client-side and Firebase as a backend as a service to save costs and time. He developed a database on Realtime Database, added event listeners, set up SDK. Since this game needs support for common mechanics, BaaS became the perfect solution for the fast game release. It provided the game with an ability to support a high number of players quickly with zero downtime and the analysis of its performance.

Radio streaming app

Transistor S based on PARSE Server gathers information about each app user while authorization. In addition to streaming tracks, it has social integrations and push notifications ─ widespread functions easy to add using BaaS ready-to-use solutions.

It would be perfect for the entrepreneur from the story if his app:

  • was an MVP with a short time launch and low budget;
  • didn’t require upscaling;
  • was a non-critical product ready to change according to the BaaS provider’s features.

The solution is good but doesn’t cover the scaling and flexibility app requirements. Thus, let’s go to the next option.

Custom backend means coding it from scratch with a focus on the needs of a specific project. The development process is more complicated, but it’s overwhelmed by a list of benefits.

Custom Backend Cases: Real Experience

Fashion retail app

Nordstrom aimed to engage customers. Consumed to be a scalable and memorable app it goes beyond the ordinary functionality to process and analyze data from different sources. Thus, the app has a Datadog dashboard for managers to see the number of users, conversion rate, key metrics, YoY comparison.

Telecom app

Vega Phone from Ukrainian telecommunication operator. Providing a full range of IP telephony services for business as well as for ordinary users this SIP-client synchronizes the data from the tools it’s installed on and constantly updates with new unique features. Thus, this app needs API, fast processing of internal events, and events storage that could be done with Baas. However, it was built using a custom backend to keep the 24/7 system availability, reliable requests processing, frequent releases, and bug fixing.

Game app

Two4Tea Fight List challenges users to guess answers for questions in a 5-on-5 tag format. Used to work with a Parse Open Source, they meet a challenge: as they started to scale, the platform’s functionality wasn’t enough to process 600 requests a second they have. To improve app performance, they went to the custom development solution. The deployment of their own services makes it easier to manage and upgrade an app. Using a custom backend they built a database dashboard for quick data access, push notifications on both iOS and Android platforms, and cloud code functions on the computer and upload them with a simplified CLI.

IoT app

Lytx for advanced FNOL video-based telematics & tracking of fleet owners & sensitive businesses’ property demands auto-scaling cloud server and big database to store training videos. Since IoT apps usually have big data traffic, to avoid overload it requires application cloning. This can be done with the BaaS backend, but the major question was security: servers contain sensitive data, that should be encrypted properly. Thus, the choice opts for the custom backend, which provides the app with Rest APIs, OBD-II ECU Data integrated via Bluetooth, real-time monitoring and configuration.

Thus, a custom backend seems perfect for a product that needs a unique set of features, and an app with a growing potential to change over time.

But a moment of development cost and price left. Is there some solution to cover all the app needs and demands of the development process described in the beginning?

The Bottom Line

Thus, both solutions are optimal under certain conditions. If a company doesn’t have extensive internal processes, a BaaS solution will suit it. It is a quickly-implemented set of core backend components. If the enterprise is large and the existing BaaS solutions do not cover its needs, it can choose custom development. The last one takes time, but the personalized results and long-term usage are worth it.