It's starting to feel like the end of an era. With Red Hat's announcement this morning that it plans to buy backend-as-a-service provider FeedHenry, the days of standalone BaaS are very nearly over.
Red Hat said it will spend around $83 million to buy FeedHenry, which set itself apart from the competition by focusing on enterprise users. For instance, FeedHenry launched features designed to make it easy for businesses to build apps suited for mobile field workers. It also offers plugins for connecting mobile apps to traditional enterprise backend systems from SAP, Oracle, Salesforce, and others.
In buying FeedHenry, Red Hat joins some of its larger cloud service competitors in getting into the BaaS space. Google, Microsoft, and Amazon have all begun to offer their own services designed for developers building mobile apps. Red Hat said that FeedHenry's technology will become part of its public and private platform-as-a-service offerings.
FeedHenry is one of just a couple remaining independent BaaS providers. In April 2013, Parse got bought by Facebook, where it continues to thrive. PayPal bought StackMob, another big name in BaaS, in December, but later shut down the service.
There are a couple of remaining BaaS providers, the biggest of which may be Kinvey. The company recently announced an arrangement with VMware to offer a hybrid product built on VMware's vCloud Air. It too has been really focused on enterprises and announced this morning adoption by Schneider Electric's 4,000 developers. Otherwise, there's Cloudmine and Buddy and a couple other small BaaS providers.
It makes sense for the big cloud providers to want to offer mobile services to customers since many such providers want to be one-stop shops. But one downside for end users is that typically such services end up locking them in, making it more challenging to switch cloud providers.
In a Q and A about the acquisition, Red Hat was vague about whether FeedHenry customers would be able to build on competing cloud services. "We expect to offer flexible cloud deployments to our customers which will now include greater support and integration for OpenShift and OpenStack," the Q and A reads.
Red Hat said it will continue to support existing FeedHenry customers. It also suggested that it will open source FeedHenry's technology. "Red Hat has long shown its commitment to open-sourcing the technology it acquires. We have no reason to expect a change in this approach," it wrote in the Q and A in response to a question about whether it would open source FeedHenry's technology.
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