Parse is shutting down. How does this affect me?

February 2016 /

Facebook recently announced that Parse is shutting down. Read this guide to learn how it might affect you and what options you have.

Facebook has recently announced that Parse, the mBaaS (mobile backend as a service) platform it acquired in 2013, is being shut down. Developers currently working off of Parse will have one year to move their apps off of Facebook’s servers, and have been given the option to download a version of the Parse software that can run on top of a Node.js server (most likely hosted on the servers of competitors like Salesforce’s Heroku). With a year of runway, nobody needs to panic just yet. At Deckspire, we’ve used Parse for a few projects and wanted to dig into the story a little bit and offer a few solutions. That said, it begs the question: what happened, and what does this mean for the app development space?

In 2013, the Facebook team recognized that if they wanted to compete with the likes of Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and other tech giants, they would have to take the plunge and become a true cloud business. Parse represented an opportunity for Facebook to do just this, at a time when the business was facing a number of challenges. They continued to struggle to build out a powerful mobile advertising platform. Coupled with this, in 2013 Facebook’s stock was trading at a below-IPO price of $38/share. The mobile space was exploding with growth as more and more users shifted away from desktop computing and towards phones and tablets, bringing with it an entire generation of mobile app developers. The Parse acquisition was Facebook’s strategic play at killing more than a few birds with one stone.

Looking back at Facebook’s biggest challenges nearly three years ago, and understanding that acquiring Parse was an attempt at solving those challenges, it becomes clear that the discontinuation of the Parse platform was a decision made out of pure pragmatism. Today, Facebook stock is up more than 250% from its April 2013 price, closing this evening at $102.01. The mobile development space has lost significant steam from its rapid growth rates a few years back, while Facebook’s mobile advertising now generates an incredible 80% of their revenue. Parse’s 15 million users represent not even 1% of the Facebook user base, and the time and effort it required eventually became more of a burden than a benefit in the eyes of the Facebook executive team.

“Moving forward we want to dedicate more resources to high-impact products and services in areas like analytics, monetization, discovery, and authentication,” said Michael Kirkland, a Facebook representative. “As a result, we’ve made the difficult decision to wind down support for Parse.”

So the question for mobile app developers who were relying on the Parse platform is “What now?” Github, the web-based Git repository hosting service, worked with its 12 million+ members to come up with the most comprehensive Parse Alternatives almanac available online. Additionally, Syncano (a Parse competitor-turned-alternative) is offering its entire portfolio of features free to the general public for up to six months in order to ease the burden mobile developers are facing in the wake of the sudden news.

What Should You Do Next?

While Facebook decision to shut down Parse will prove problematic for some, it may prove better in the long-run as we hope to see more mBaaS providers surfacing who have nothing but the best interests of the developers who work so hard at heart. In the meantime, there are three options you can consider to deal with the eradication of Parse:

Option One: An Open Source Parse Server

In order to make the switch easier on developers, Facebook has chosen to open source a very large portion of its technology. With this, you will be able to switch over to running a “light” version of Parse on either your own hardware or through a virtualized server. This option provides the least development work and is probably the simplest route.


  • Free to download and get started
  • Easiest option from a development standpoint
  • Minor changes to your app to point to the new backend


  • Will lack some of Parse’s previous features
  • There won’t be a support system
  • You have to host it yourself on your own infrastructure
  • Future development is on you


Option Two: Make The Switch To a Different mBaaS Provider

There are a number of companies who provide similar services to Parse, that are looking to get your business by providing as much incentive as possible to those who were previously using the now defunct platform. For developers who were happy with Parse and are looking for a similar mBaaS experience (with some added features), we recommend Kumulos and Firebase.  


  • Many features
  • High quality support
  • Free for apps that currently have a small user base


  • Expensive for apps with a large user base
  • You have to switch out Parse from your app and release a new update
  • There is a risk that what happened to Parse will happen to these companies (Firebase owned by Google, and it is plausible that Kumulos will be acquired by a large company at some point as well)

Option Three: Build Your Own Backend

This is by far the most challenging path technically. It is also the most expensive and time intensive. That said, rolling out your own backend is the only choice that will give you complete and absolute control of your app going forward. It should be noted that this will also require maintaining your own servers.


  • Complete control
  • Cheaper long term when looking to scale
  • Totally customized for your app


  • Highest cost of development
  • Longest development timeline
  • No support from large entity
  • Difficult to maintain your own servers

Each option has pros and cons based on your app’s specific needs. For the average app developer, we think that continuing with Parse on your own server (Option One) makes the most sense. No option is perfect, but this will provide you with the most cost and time effective option, which will allow you to focus on growing your app’s user base while you consider some of the more intensive options down the line.

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