Enterprise mobile backend as a service (mBaaS) platforms are a new concept as an enabler of enterprise mobile solutions. Often positioned as an alternative to the traditional mobile enterprise application platforms (MEAPs), enterprise mBaaS platforms provide a lightweight mechanism to for enabling backend capabilities to enterprise mobile apps via mobile APIs. In that sense, enterprise mBaaS platforms are not only compared against MEAPs but to other API alternatives such as SOA infrastructures or API Gateways.

Contrasting with home grown alternatives, API Gateways such as CA Layer7 or Intel Mashery offer an enterprise ready alternative to virtualize APIs that can be used by different client applications including mobile solutions. However, API gateways should not be positioned as an enterprise mobile platform. For starters, API gateways and enterprise mBaaS platforms try to address two very different problems. While API Gateways focus on the design and virtualization of enterprise APIs, enterprise mBaaS platforms focus on providing backend capabilities to enterprise mobile apps. Additionally, enterprise mBaaS platforms provide a series of mobile-first backend capabilities that have no equivalent in API gateway platforms.

At a high level, you might still see some overlap between API Gateways and enterprise mBaaS platforms, but the differences become very obvious when implementing enterprise mobile solutions. To cite an example, while an API gateway will help to virtualize a service API that integrates with SAP, an enterprise mBaaS platform provides mobile-first SAP connectors that can be used from various mobile app development platforms.

Additionally, enterprise mBaaS platforms enable horizontal mobile-first infrastructure capabilities such as storage, identity management, logging, media distribution among many others that are often required when building enterprise mobile apps. These type of horizontal capabilities are typically not present in API gateways.