By 2020, mobile apps have turned into a commercial engine dominating business conversion and building customer loyalty.
Having started mobile app development, you may soon feel the need for a server to host the app, to serve the content to users, and generate most of the app features.
A mobile app hosting makes the app available from a server or a cloud accessed via the Internet. Hosted apps allow for flexibility, easy deployment having minimal integration requirements, and have a lower risk of system corruption.
Since the whole infrastructure is maintained by the hosting provider, the latter will be poised to manage it on a large scale. That includes regular server updates, managed backups, antivirus, etc.
For the vast majority of current apps, yes. However, it depends on the type of app and its requirements. Standalone offline games (Tetris with no leaderboard) or utility apps (Notepad, Media Player, or something similar to Microsoft Word) don’t need hosting and the backend, either.
However, once your mobile app requires heavy processing, data storage, or other server-side functions made available, you need to run it on a server or one of the cloud services.
For instance, such apps like WhatsApp and Facebook store users’ data in their servers whereas user authentication, user interaction, and other features also depend on the server.
There are four main types of mobile apps hosting available:
Shared hosting means there are the same server and resources used by hundreds of other apps. There is a preconfigured server-side software and OS.
In most cases it’s a good match for businesses stepping into mobile app hosting as it’s cheap, easy to use, and is accompanied by a set of general services.
Its advantages comprise the chance to get reasonably good storage, speed, backups, conditioned bandwidth, module installation services, and mailboxes.
However, shared hosting has some limitations when it comes to data storage, app speed, and the number of users meaning it’ll be suitable for low-traffic apps.
The hosting conditions will differ depending on a provider. The best-known are HostGator, Hostwinds, Hostinger, and others.
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The concept of dedicated server hosting is that it hosts only your app. This type of hosting will come in handy once your app has a certain technical level requiring stable resources, higher speed, and larger memory capacity.
The dedicated server provides various data storage space models, fast bandwidth, high security and performance.
Using it, you’ll not get full control over the pre-installed software and OS, however, the entire server is at your service with no virtualization included.
The most popular dedicated hosting services are Liquid Web, InMotion Hosting, Bluehost, etc.
VPS hosting uses OS virtualization ensuring a big server can run various OSs as virtual machines. Compared to the previous hosting types, VPS provides complete control over both OS and software.
VPS benefits include increased reliability as few servers can be hosted on one node, dedicated resources enabling to cope with more traffic, improved efficiency and performance. VPS has moderate security as once the hypervisor is compromised the vulnerability might be an issue.
Good providers will deliver regular security patches and updates. A2 Hosting, DreamHost, GreenGeeks, etc. are ranked among popular ones.
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Backend development is a complicated and costly process. Building a mobile app is an unduly time-consuming process as there’s a need to undergo typical scenarios such as sending push-notifications, collecting the number of users placed the order, etc.
To make it possible to focus on vital processes without sacrificing quality and features of those being secondary, mBaaS (Mobile Backend as a Service) appeared. MBaaS simplifies backend development, assumes full responsibility for server stability, load balancing, scalability, reliability, and more.
Here are the most popular mBaaS providers compared:
It’s an IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) containing BaaS functionality and helping to develop the backend for mobile apps.
It features push-notifications processing, automatic scaling, data synchronization, integration with social networks, app performance tracker, app crashes localization, etc.
Azure servers are located in 54 countries, which increases the chance to find something suitable in terms of server latency. You can find Microsoft Azure pricing policy and documentation here and here.
AWS (Amazon Web Services) is another IaaS entailing the set of functionality called AWS Amplify (or enhances AWS Mobile Hub).
It helps to configure apps including server logics, user authentication, data storage, content processing and distribution, notifications, etc. Amazon Pinpoint allows for user segmentation and targeting strategies launch. Amazon gives access to detailed documentation and supports both REST and GraphQL.
It’s one of the most popular tools of mBaaS service used by Duolingo, Shazam, Lyft, and others. The service combines full-fledged backend features such as data storage, synchronization, user authentication, and embedded Google Analytics, user segmentation, Crashlytics and Fabric to track app errors, easier integration, etc.
Firebase has ML Kit enabling machine learning expertise to apps. Google Firebase offers 3 ways of payment: Spark (free), Flame Plan, and Blaze Plan.
Apple CloudKit, Kinvey, SashiDo, and Kumolos are among the widely accepted providers as well.
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Weighing up the hosting prerequisite, the mobile app requirements underpinning it, and the budget, it’d be possible to choose the right way to follow.
All mobile app hosting types deserve attention, yet mBaaS provides one of the best advantages, especially when time-to-market matters a lot.
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