There’s an arms race going on among startups trying to drag enterprises onto mobile — kicking and screaming at times. These platforms, often called mBaaS (mobile backend as a service) or mPaaS (mobile platform as a service) typically solve for the scalability and security concerns specific to enterprise deployment, freeing development teams to focus on front end user experience.
AnyPresence, which believes itself to be the first ever enterprise mBaaS platform, has partnered with Heroku, a Salesforce.com owned platform-as-a-service (which, in “Inception”-like platform-within-a-platform fashion, runs on top of Amazon’s AWS platform). Through the new partnership, AnyPresence customers can now deploy and manage individual cloud-based deployments of their backend services on Heroku from directly within AnyPresence Designer. Through the integration, all billing is managed directly through AnyPresence as well, further simplifying and streamlining the app development process.
“Our partnership with Heroku enables developers to spend more time on app functionality, eliminating costly resources and time typically required to set up scalable server infrastructure for development, test, and production environments,” says AnyPresence co-founder and Chief Product Officer Rich Mendis.
The startup offers two complementary solutions, its enterprise mBaaS and an advanced API management solution called meta API, which aids enterprises looking to offer a custom development platform in creating SDKs and user interface templates. AnyPresence supports development for iOS, Android, and HTML5. According to Mendis, the key to the entire offering is that AnyPresence guarantees freedom from platform lock-in, meaning that customers can take their complete source code with them at any time and run it on another platform of their choosing. For many of the company’s competitors, claims about platform independence refer mostly to data portability, Mendis explains, not source code portability.
The Reston, Virginia-based AnyPresence is available on a 15-day trial, with ongoing access priced at beginning at $15,000 year, and scaling according to usage. The company currently has 30 employees and was founded by Clear Standards (acquired by SAP) co-founders Mendis, Rakesh Rao, and AC Chakrabarti. The three year old company has raised $7.5 million across two rounds of venture financing from Grotech Ventures and Kinetic Ventures.
AnyPresence is not alone in this space. Enterprise mobile pioneer Verivo recently pivoted away from app design to being offering an enterprise mobile platform, Akula and stands to offer stiff competition. At the same time, both Heroku and Salesforce.com have their own lightweight BaaS offerings, while Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud have partnered with BaaS providers to offer this functionality alongside their platforms. On the consumer side, StackMob and Kinvey are the category leaders, with the latter more recently shifting its focus to the enterprise, while Facebook recently acquired mBaaS competitor Parse.
In other words, it’s a heavily-contested space and differentiation is a challenge for each of the companies which are all looking to solve a similar problem. Specifically, that market conditions demand that app development cycles grow shorter, placing more strain on resource constrained development teams. For most companies, the ideal solution is to offload the management of backend infrastructure, and along with it concerns of scalability and security, to a third party service provider.
AnyPresence, which already offered among the most compelling solutions, enhanced its offering today with the deepened Heroku integration. That said, mBaaS solutions seem destined for commoditization and a race to the bottom in terms of pricing. AnyPresence and others will do well to continue adding additional functionality and emphasizing customer service as a means of differentiation.
It seems reasonable to expect further consolidation and contraction within the space, both among the independents and with further acquisitions by enterprise giants like Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, Salesforce, and others. AnyPresence’s latest partnership may have paved the path toward such an exit to Salesforce further down the line, assuming its able to maintain its position at the head of the class.