Joining other mobile backend-as-a-service providers in efforts to simplify application development, DreamFactory Software today announced the general availability of the open-source DreamFactory Services Platform, which enables developers to create mobile applications without needing to do any server-side, back-end development.

The platform’s focus on the enterprise, its open-source nature, and its ability to be installed in an enterprise’s own cloud or data center make it different from other mobile platform offerings, according to the company. “I’m thinking of Parse, Kinvey and StackMob, and there are a few others,” said Bill Appleton, founder of DreamFactory. “They’re trying to be service providers where you go to them, sign up, and they host your cloud for you, and you develop an app on it. We are not.

“We do have free trials and things like that, but the big difference with us is we have an open-source software package that you can install on your own cloud or data center, and that is just key for the enterprise. We’re very much enterprise-focused, [whereas] they’re…focused on a consumer-type of application.”

Appleton explained how being open source makes the DreamFactory Services Platform different. “We have no user license. You install [it], it’s free, it’s open source; you can put all the users you want on it for free,” he said. “If you look at real companies, they have cloud administration panels, either with Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure or VMware. And what the IT director of a company does is go to their administration panel, and they can see their applications, their assets, their servers, all that stuff.

“So when you install [the DreamFactory platform], it shows up on that panel as one of the assets. Then [the IT director] can see the costs, the size that they’ve allocated, the bandwidth, and the load balancer—all of the stuff that’s in their data center. And if it’s their data center, then it’s even more direct. They actually go install [the platform] on a machine right there. So this is a totally different model than those guys who are trying to be the Salesforce of mobile.”

Appleton said another difference between the DreamFactory solution and other BaaS providers’ solutions is that the others are hosting their service in the cloud, whereas DreamFactory’s solution is installed within the enterprise itself. “We have a very comprehensive palette of services that we expose for mobile app development. One example is we expose a full, dedicated direction to a SQL database,” Appleton said. “None of those other guys—at least the ones that I mentioned—do that. They all have kind of NoSQL databases, kind of key-value-pair database connections. And that’s nice; we support that, too.

“But for enterprise apps, you really need a dedicated SQL database. So we can do very fast transactions with very large amounts of data. And so that’s kind of the tip of the iceberg, but there’s a real difference in the service palette that we offer.”
Using the DreamFactory platform, developers can connect their HTML5 and native applications to Web services such as SQL data, BLOB storage, user management, app hosting, and external integration. Appleton said that enterprise security is an important issue, one that the company’s platform handles well. “The package that we offer for distribution is open source and it has many eyes on it, but we control the distribution,” he said. “If you get it from us, we vouch for it. It’s just like Apache or PHP or any of the other big open-source packages; they’re the most secure things you can install because they’re open.

“We have dealt with a lot of issues like single sign-on and user management. Enterprise security is a super important issue,” he continued. “One of the most important issues for the enterprise, I believe, is the fact that they can run [our platform] on their own infrastructure because they have all these best practices for backing it up, for being able to monitor it, to being able to shut it down, to being able to control every aspect of it. And so the fact that it’s open source, it’s on their data center, it’s a big security plus right there.”

Launch date: April 30, 2013
Purpose: Developers can use DSP to build HTML5 and native enterprise mobile applications without having to code anything on the back end.
Key features:
• Provides a back end for low-bandwidth/high-performance mobile applications written in either HTML5 or native client technologies such as Android, BlackBerry, iOS and Windows 8.
• Can be installed on any data center or cloud installation; can be managed with existing tools.
• Delivers services for SQL data, NoSQL data, BLOB storage, user management, external integration, and application hosting.
• Implements a standards-based REST interface that supports both JSON and XML documents for HTML5 and native client technologies.
• Enables rule-based security control over applications, services, files and database object permissions.