Does the world really need another "something as a Service" acronym? And how is Backend as a Service different than, say, Database as a service or Platform as a Service? As the Appwrite story goes to show, Backend as a Service (BaaS) is a thing.
Appwrite is a self-hosted open source Backend-as-a-Service (BaaS) platform for web, mobile and flutter developers that offers a set of integrated REST APIs to manage their core backend needs.
It has been a hit with developers, and today the company is announcing $10 million in seed funding. ZDNet connected with CEO and Founder Eldad Fux to discuss the BaaS category, Appwrite's features, growth and future plans, as well as funding specifics.
The closest we could come to a definition for BaaS is "a cloud service model in which developers outsource all the behind-the-scenes aspects of a web or mobile application so that they only have to write and maintain the frontend".
Arguably, that does not sound too far off from what database as a service or platform as a service offerings promise. It's a thin line, Fux concurred. He thinks of BaaS as an abstraction layer that tries to collect a lot of different services and create a unified experience for developers.
It's more than just a database; even one someone else is running for you in the cloud, he went on to add. Appwrite features include database, storage, functions, geo/localization, console, privacy and security.
Fux also mentioned that a big part of Appwrite's functionality has been created from the ground up. That makes it even more impressive, and the answer to how that is possible is -- because of Appwrite's open source community.
Appwrite is one of the fastest-growing open source projects on GitHub today, with more than 40,000 developers joining the community in just the last three months and more than 250 maintainers around the globe.
Fux, who has been programming using open source since age 12 and has a solid professional background in software development, said that he started Appwrite to scratch his own itch.
Fux wanted to improve the developer experience initially for himself and then for others too. His ideas hit a nerve with developers, and the project became an open source viral hit, eventually leading to the seed funding round to fuel further growth.
Besides the unified functionality Appwrite provides, it also offers a common set of APIs that developers can use to shield from having to program against different APIs for each cloud vendor, Fux noted.
In addition, Appwrite can work both in the cloud and locally, as well as on Raspberry Pi platforms, making it appropriate for edge applications too. Appwrite uses Docker containers, so wherever Docker runs, Appwrite can run too, Fux said.
Appwrite is not the only BaaS game in town. According to industry reports, the global BaaS market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 68.2% during 2021-2027. Flybridge Capital Partners was an investor in Firebase, one of the BaaS leaders, in 2013 and is today investing in Appwrite.
"The backend-as-a-service category is on fire and is poised for disruption," said Chip Hazard, general partner at Flybridge Capital Partners. "Because Appwrite is built by open source developers for developers, it empowers anyone to build their apps their way across any platform and in any language. We believe Appwrite has the lead on the next-generation of BaaS companies."
Fux, on his part, reiterated that authenticity and developer-centricity are what sets Appwrite apart. He identified open source as a key ingredient for any platform addressing developers and emphasized community building and values as core elements of Appwrite that will be maintained going forward.
Appwrite's co-founders are all community members, Fux added. As far as the monetization strategy is concerned, the plan is to start by offering Appwrite as a managed service, but other ideas will be explored as well.
Appwrite's funding is led first by Ibex Investors and Seed Camp, followed by Bessemer Venture Partners and Flybridge Capital Partners. Individual investors include Uri Boness (Elastic) and James Lidenbaum (Heroku).