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Parse Alternatives - Quick Rundown Of Firebase, Azure, Amazon And Custom Made Solutions

Parse is down. You already know what to do and what not to do. Now is time for a quick rundown of the larger back end infrastructure solutions:

 

Firebase (Google) — Google's thrown out a few affirmations that they're fully behind Firebase and the service, while not as intuitive as Parse, is widely supported. It’s focused almost exclusively on data storage (server and client side) without support for push notifications, mobile analytics, and the like. The data storage is nicely abstracted into JSON.  

As a data storage solution (which is your use case for the POS app) this appears at first glance to be the easiest. It'd be interesting to try to set up the layout you'd need for the project and spend some time testing.


Azure mobile services (Microsoft)  — I've used this for a few projects and it’s evolving in the right direction — with server-side javascript cloud functions that behave the same way as Parse cloud code, support for push notifications, and nicely abstracted data sync between the cloud and client apps.  


It is Microsoft but SDKs are available for all major mobile platforms — including Android. Database management isn’t as intuitive as you can’t directly intervene and edit values stored server side (like Parse).  Compared to Amazon’s cloud services documentation is better.   


The setup could be easier and it’s a significant chore compared to Parse — but it does appear to be evolving in the right direction.


Custom back end app (Rails) — creating a custom back end app isn't a terrible idea — but we would lose the flexibility of back end services. Two of the advantages though are that there wouldn't be any dependency on a service and the data storage you're envisioning is fairly light so building a Rails API would be quick-ish.


Amazon’s mobile hub and services — Amazon mobile hub is a regrouping of Amazon cloud services.  It’s basically as series of mini-SDKs for individual Amazon services plus some mobile specific services.  Some of these AWS services we use regularly (like S3).  Others are promising like Cognito and their testing cloud.  


Overall though Amazon’s alphabet soup of cloud services can be complex to setup and maintain.  If you have someone on your side that can act as the architect, it would make a huge difference.  There is a high learning curve as AWS documentation is notoriously challenging and optimizing service use requires experience and expertise.

 
These are some initial thoughts and a point of departure for additional research. It would be critical to dig into the details for any service you select (buyer be ware, and advice is cheap). 
 
All these services (aside from the Rails custom app suggested above) are new-ish though like Parse used by countless apps. Often without sufficient testing issues appear during the QA phase after code is already written.  
 
That said, again, if you're looking at a limited number of requests in your MVP application and pretty straight forward data storage almost any of the above would be suitable.
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