How the parse shutdown impacts your app (the non-tech guide)

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Parse is the most popular backend solution for mobile apps and Facebook is shutting it down. If you’re a non-technical app creator and you use Parse then you need a game-plan for moving from Parse to an alternative service.

Your tech team is crucial for making this happen and you’re a key voice in that conversation. Here’s a quick primer on what’s happening and the decisions you’ll need to make.

What to do if you use Parse

There’s no need to panic. The popular mobile backend-as-a-service (MBaaS) is actually going to be running for another year, and won’t be fully shut down until
the end of January, 2017. That means you have time to plan your next move. You also have plenty of alternatives including the usual suspects at Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Salesforce, each of whom has a competing platform that’s eager for your business.

Parse has released a database migration tool that lets you export your data to your new database. Most importantly, when you migrate, the Parse API will still be running so you won’t experience downtime.

They’re also open-sourcing Parse Server, which lets you run their software from your own personal server. What this means if that once you’ve exported your data, you won’t have to make any significant underlying changes to the client-side code.

How to organize your team moving forward

According to Parse’s suggested timeline, they advise you to migrate to a new database (like MongoDB) by the end of April 2016. Then, if you want to keep using Parse, you should host it on your own server by the end of July 2016.

You’ll need someone technical on staff to maintain and scale this self-hosted service. If you’re looking to migrate to Parse’s recommendation of Heroku and MongoLab, the two most popular providers in the market, they have a handy step-by-stepmigration guide here. There’s also step-by-step guides to configuring Parse to work on Google Cloud Platform, IBM Bluemix, and Docker.

What are your options here?

While no one service is going to replicate your entire infrastructure on Parse, there’s a ton of alternatives. For those looking for a just-get-it-done service, ReactiveOps can manage your backend stack by taking care of the infrastructure supporting your app. They’ll migrate you over to AWS with all the right goodies so you can set and forget for the most part. Their tech elves will keep you on track even as you grow and scale. Of course, you’ll pay accordingly.

Now, if you want to customize your stack, your choice comes down to what you need for data storage, push notifications, usage analytics, social integration, and the availability of mobile platform SDKs.

If your biggest priority is making sure you aren’t locked into one provider, running a Parse server in Docker comes highly recommended. They make it easy for you to move to a new service by packaging your apps in self-contained compartments.

Keep in mind that one of the critical features missing from Parse is mobile push notifications. If that’s important to you then consider a service like Urban Airship or OneSignal. This GitHub repo has a definitive list of Parse alternatives, grouped by whichever function you’re looking to replace. If you’re thinking of hacking together a few different apps to do what Parse did, your best bet is to pull in a product manager or lead developer to make that happen.

Keep calm and make a plan

Non-technical app creators should understand how this change impacts their apps but the changes will definitely require some technical know-how. Now is the time to discuss next steps with whoever handles your tech so you can come up with a game-plan for moving off of Parse.

Have follow up questions? Let us know in the comments.