Parse · Firebase

Parse vs Firebase vs ?

Sridhar Rajagopal

October 5th, 2015

I am looking to use either Parse or Firebase to power the backend of my service, which is an IOT product along with cloud analytics. Services like Parse and Firebase remove the complexity and painpoint of managing infrastructure and basic services yourself.

I was curious about how many among the Founderdating community are using either of these services, and what their thoughts are. Also, if you are using another similar service, and feedback about why you choose that would also be very interesting.

Thanks,
Sridhar

Mike Whitfield Sr. Software Engineer, EPAM, Google

October 5th, 2015

I have more to learn about these platforms.  As someone called by [undisclosed company] to "engineer" the relationship of customers with new technologies, I'm supposed to take interest in this thread :)

A friend uses Parse, he "parses" tens of thousands of simultaneous connections, and hundreds of thousands of read/write requests.  The platform has begun to noticeably slow toward their peak times.  The primary complaint of this friend is that Facebook offers little to no phone support even though their monthly bill is in the thousands.

There are lots of reasons for Facebook to continue pouring its resources into the proliferation of Parse (i.e. mobile advertisements, mobile developer relations, advancement of its React framework for mobile devices).

Most people I have seen adopt these "per unit" infrastructure services end up paying the same or more they would to hire someone to do the work (including cost of DIY equipment).  The difference is that the cost schedule is deferred which most people like.  The long-run cost of vendor lock-in doesn't seem so bad since most people indicate/estimate they'll make so much money by the time vendor lock-in matters that vendor lock-in is too hypothetical to matter.  How could anyone advise against such wishful thinking :)

What does your current value comparison sheet look like, and what features are most appealing for your business?

Michael Brill Technology startup exec focused on AI-driven products

October 5th, 2015

Google has a very rich history of dumping products... Parse will be around for a long, long time.

Again, Firebase probably isn't what you want for analytics - I think you'll have to bring the entire data set into memory and custom-code everything server-side.

Parse's query processing is actually quite limited compared to an RDBMS or MongoDB (yes, even though it's built on MongoDB). I wouldn't be surprised, again, to see you have to write a ton of server-side code for analytics.

If running your own database gives you a rash, another possibility is to use MongoDB (you can use a HA hosted service like MongoLab for $15/GB)... then you can use its aggregation framework to do all your analysis in the database itself... so you might not even need a server at all.

Michael Brill Technology startup exec focused on AI-driven products

October 5th, 2015

I inherited an app that uses both Parse and Firebase. Parse is a much broader platform - a general-purpose database, server-side logic, push notifications, built-in support for common application requirements. 

Firebase is a much more narrow product, focused on synchronized, realtime data management (think key-value store with pub-sub). e.g., my app uses Firebase for managing all the chats, but Parse for everything else.

If Firebase solves your backend problem, then definitely use that. It's simple, fast, cheap. But I think it'd be tough to create an analytics layer on top of it.

If you lack backend skills to manage your own servers, then Parse is a good option... but it's a proprietary system you have to learn and then deal with its limitations. When you can't make something work - especially database-related - you're just stuck... and you may find yourself writing a ton of backend code just to deal with those limitations... and then you run into potential cost issues if your app requires lots of queries.

"IoT" and "analytics" can mean anything... it's not clear whether you're applying realtime analytics to tons of streaming content or whether you're doing more data capture and periodic analytics - in that case you may want to dump the data into Amazon RDS or Aurora and then have access to any number of analytics tools that can run off of relational data.

Yeah, not terribly useful, but hard to recommend anything without understanding the application requirements.

The good news is that you can spend a couple hours with Firebase and a day with Parse and you'll know whether they can do what you want.

Rohit Paliwal COO @ Uvaca, Inc.

October 8th, 2015

Another way to look at this might be how critical is this data/analytics to your overall product/offering. If it is a major part of it then a thin API which dumps data into a RDBMS, perhaps postgresql or mysql in AWS RDS, might be worth it as it will give you a lot more flexibility now and in future.

For analytics dashboard I think there are a bunch of services which can be built on top of AWS RDS so it may be worthwhile to look at those.

Michael Brill Technology startup exec focused on AI-driven products

October 8th, 2015

Sridhar, check out today's announcement. Yeah, there's a bit of a learning curve but probably a fraction of the time you'll spend contorting other technologies to do what you want.

http://venturebeat.com/2015/10/08/aws-launches-amazon-iot-a-cloud-service-for-internet-of-things-data/


Sridhar Rajagopal

October 5th, 2015

Thanks for the replies. Mike, thanks for your feedback about your friend's experience with Parse.

Michael, thanks for your comments about your experience!

My own value comparison sheet looks like this:

1) Query capabilities seem to be more comprehensive with Parse than Firebase
2) Parse has additional functionality like Push notifications, user signup, login and session management.
3) Parse has embedded libraries that extend push notification functionality to embedded systems (so your device can received notifications)

On the other hand, firebase is part of Google (and thus Nest) and so its development is likely going to continue - not sure what Parse's plans are after Facebook's acquisition.

I am looking at data capture and periodic analytics for now. I've also looked into RDS and/or DynamoDB and the AWS ecosystem, but feel Parse and/or Firebase will allow for faster iteration in the here and now.

-Sridhar

Sridhar Rajagopal

October 8th, 2015

Great suggestions everyone, and thanks for the link about AWS IOT, Michael! Certainly seems very promising and they have addressed some of the issues around security and provisioning and made it easier.

One point that I had failed to mention, I guess, was that I was considering Parse and/or Firebase as a means of whipping up a workable prototype that one could start beta-testing with real users, in a short amount of time, and then use that experience and knowledge in moving to a more (re)engineered solution.

Michael Brill Technology startup exec focused on AI-driven products

October 8th, 2015

Good luck and let us know how it goes.