When it comes to modernizing your software stack to be more cloud-based, you’ve options. You can opt to use individual components like building blocks, or you could choose a more turnkey, all-in-one solution. You might use a mix of the two, similar to a hybrid cloud.

Three backend solutions that continue to be top choices for developers are Google’s Firebase, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and MongoDB, one of the leading NoSQL databases. They each occupy three very different domains, both in terms of functionality and scale, which makes comparing them a bit apples to oranges.

So how do these technologies play into the modern backend landscape? What is each solution meant to do, and how are they different?

Backend Infrastructures and The Cloud

server side architecture

The above graphic shows some essential backend components interactive applications and sites require to get up and running: a server, database, server-side software, and APIs. Computing, storing and fetching data, managing site and API traffic, and monitoring security all happen within the network—and require resources (human and computer) to manage.

Modern backends are starting to look a bit different. Thanks to cloud-based solutions that move servers and databases off-site, businesses can streamline development and server resources and make their apps more scalable for the future. This might be a backend-as-a-service (BaaS) like Google’s Firebase, or cloud-based servers like AWS. These solutions do more than just store your data; in some cases, they even handle provisioning, scaling, maintenance, and monitoring.

With these capabilities in mind, let’s dive in.

Google Firebase: Tactical BaaS Support

What it is: A ready-to-use mobile and web application development solution by Google.

What it does: Firebase gives developers everything they need to quickly spin up mobile app prototypes from scratch. They can opt to assemble a Firebase backend from standalone components. Extra features let developers grow and improve apps over time.


  • Server management
  • Real-time database design and file storage
  • APIs
  • Scaling and load balancing as demand grows
  • Hosting and cloud storage
  • A/B Testing
  • Insights and analytics
  • In-app messaging and push notifications
  • IoT support: Integration with Google Cloud IoT tools

Need to quickly spin up a backend for an Android app in the early stages of your project? Firebase can help with that, and be a scalable, long-term solution that helps you monitor and grow your app for the future.

Learn more about Firebase.

Amazon Web Services (AWS): A Powerhouse for Cloud-Based Storage and Computing

What it is: A public cloud offering from Amazon that gives companies full infrastructure capabilities for virtually anything, at any scale.

What it does: Instead of creating their own infrastructures to support internal systems and applications, businesses with high-traffic, heavy load requirements often host their apps, sites or systems with cloud services like AWS, which integrates with an extensive list of computing services.

Features & Functions:

  • Instant provisioning and autoscaling with Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and support for containers:
  • Deploy software containers with Docker, then run and manage those containers with Amazon’s EC2 Container Service (ECS) and EC2 Container Registry (ECR).
  • Storage and file sharing with Simple Storage Service (S3)
  • Sending transactional emails to a large list, with Amazon’s SES (Simple Email Service)
  • DynamoDB (AWS’ proprietary nonrelational database), plus relational and NoSQL database support by Amazon RDS
  • Marketplace Web Services (MWS) API for Amazon sellers
  • Machine learning-supported edge computing with AWS Greengrass
  • IoT Support: Integration with AWS IoT
  • Serverless components by AWS Lambda

Need to serve up large volumes of data? Want to add a CDN to your system, or create a shared file system internally? You might consider AWS for these scenarios, for hosting a site or application, and more. It’s scalable, so you won’t go over your resources, but requires some help (and budget) to set up.


MongoDB: A Leading NoSQL Database for Cloud-Based Apps

What it is: A NoSQL database for unstructured data and real-time apps and analytics, and the “M” of the MEAN software stack. It’s not just limited to the MEAN stack, either—MongoDB is compatible with .NET applications, the Java platform, and more.

What it does: For real-time, data-driven applications and software, a backend needs a database designed for that app’s needs. NoSQL databases like MongoDB are particularly good choices for storing large volumes of unstructured modern data. It has some impressive built-in features that make it an excellent choice for businesses that need fast, flexible access to their data, and its horizontal scalability makes it well-suited for the cloud.

Features & Functionality

  • Flexible and document-based
  • Sharding for cloud-based storage
  • Dynamic schemas
  • Scalable database architecture
  • Location-based data analytics and operations
  • Real-time data reporting and analytics

Is MongoDB the database for you? That depends on your data. It’s a powerhouse for querying unstructured data in real-time. Is the rest of your backend cloud-based? MongoDB is a great choice because it’s well-suited to being spread out across multiple servers or commodity hardware. Need personalized data-driven experiences or location-based data analytics?

Remember, each of these tools is designed to perform a very different back-end function. Be sure to consider your app’s requirements and any integrations you need before migrating or committing to a solution.