Mobile Future Forward: Q&A with Dev Gandhi, CEO of moBack

Mobile Future Forward: Q&A with Dev Gandhi, CEO of moBack

Mobile Applications are the lifeblood of the mobile economy. However, scaling the app from the early prototypes to an app that serves millions can be daunting. A number of players have come out with tools to assist the app developer community. We caught up with Dev Gandhi, CEO of moBack to ask about the state of the mobile app world.

MFF: What are some of the most common problems you see with the mobile app backend infrastructure?

DG: The most common mobile app backend infrastructure problems are:

– Implementing core services such as data persistence, push notifications, maps integration, social integration, analytics, etc.

– Building scalable infrastructure such as virtualization, storage, security layers, etc.

– Writing application business logic.

The main challenge for app companies is to to build these three layers within the project’s scheduled budget and time frame.

App developers can either build all three layers on their own by investing in business logic development, core services, and infrastructure dev ops or opt for third party cloud based service providers such as Amazon, thus saving cost and development time.

Infrastructure service providers such as Amazon only solve infrastructure issues while some service providers only provide core services.

moBack provides both core services as well as scalable infrastructure thus helping app developers focus solely on app development business logic.

MFF: Are app companies trying to do too much on their own? What APIs have proven to be most used and why?

DG: Yes, app companies need to build not only applications but also manage backend services and IT infrastructure. They need to invest in app developers, IT/Dev Ops engineers and hardware infrastructure.

Commonly used APIs are data persistence, analytics, push notifications, social sharing, and maps/geocoding. Most app companies leverage these core service APIs to build their apps.

MFF: What is the business model for the APIs?

DG: APIs are typically provided on a freemium model. App companies can sign up for a free account and start paying later based on usage (number of calls, bandwidth, and storage). This provides app companies a great way to scale without investing too much upfront.

MFF: Majority of the apps are not used after download. How can developers keep their users engaged for a long time?

DG: App companies need to think about various aspects of an application life cycle during design phase:

– App discovery (improving app downloads)

– App engagement (improving long-term app usage)

Application artifacts such as social sharing, gamification, push notifications and mobile messaging help increase engagement.

MFF: In this day and age of constant security threats, how does a developer keep the data secure and maintain user privacy?

DG: Data security and user privacy is usually an after thought when it comes to app design, in turn making apps vulnerable and exposed to security threats. It’s better to incorporate security and user privacy elements in an application design and architecture. Key elements to consider are:

– Using PKI infrastructure to encrypt both data at motion and data at rest.

– Anonymize user data for analytics and reporting purposes thus addressing user privacy concerns.

– Build ACL based privileges allowing granular access to administrators.

– Fine grained logging helps detect security infractions.

– Run security audits (penetration tests, etc.) during QA phase and fix exposed vulnerabilities.

– Apply security patches as early as possible.