With interest and investment in Backend-as-a-Service (BAAS) re-emerging, Latin America is hoping to claim a part of the pie – and Uruguay is leading the way. Montevideo-based KONA is keen to make its mark in a sector that MarketsandMarkets estimated would reach a global value of $7.7 billion in 2017.
At the end of October last year, IBM announced that it had beat out Amazon Web Services (AWS) and other competitors to claim KONA Uruguay as a client with its new cloud-based application development service on IBM Cloud with SoftLayer, an IBM company. IBM stated that it would help KONA “build dynamic mobile applications that link its customers’ back end systems of record with mobile systems of engagement.” The partnership is positioned to aid KONA in achieving its goals in the BaaS market.
Diego Ciblis, co-founder of KONA, explained that there were two main factors that influenced the selection of IBM Cloud over competitors such as Amazon.
Firstly, Ciblis said, with IBM Softlayer KONA were able to start with a very fast infrastructure at a competitive price, with the added benefits of having automatic load balancing, database as a service and fault-tolerant systems with the push of a button.
Ciblis added: “We also wanted to partner with a trusted provider to host our systems in order to provide our customers the most reliable and trusted platform to run their businesses on. IBM is a worldwide trusted brand that we leverage on our platform.”
Gerardo Quincke, Cloud Services SoftLayer Focal Point at IBM Uruguay, echoed Ciblis, saying: “IBM Cloud is global, but IBM has buildings all over the world, including in a very small country like Uruguay. This has positioned us as a trustworthy provider for Kona, because we developed a personal relationship and we could present our technology and services without having to make the client to travel.”
Quincke added that the advantages of SoftLayer are, among others, flexibility, quality of service and efficiency. “In the case of Kona, the selection of the provider was more than technical; it was also based in the close relationship IBM Uruguay has with them,” he said.
KONA has already benefited from the relationship with IBM. Ciblis explained that since the beginning IBM has been endorsing KONA Cloud as a solution built on top of their IBM Cloud offering, which has enabled KONA to reach enterprises and companies that trust the IBM Cloud solution.
“On the technology side, we are running our whole infrastructure on top of IBM Cloud at a cost that couldn’t be possible with other providers, because of the speed and stability of their services and competitive costs,” he said. “We have also experienced 100 percent uptime since the beginning on all our services.”
Ciblis said that Uruguay is a very tech-oriented country, with a lot of IT development companies. Many of them, he said, are working on mobile projects, and many companies create the back-ends themselves and run them on a cloud infrastructure or their own servers.
“Since last year, this has been changing and more people are embracing BaaS solutions like KONA Cloud,” he said. “People are starting to see the real benefits of not reinventing the wheel on every new app they need to develop, and the increased time-to-market, speed and stability that a BaaS provides.”
Quincke added that Uruguay is acknowledged in the Latin America market as a country that develops software. “The industry is moving to mobile applications and all of them require a backend. The BaaS market indicates that is growing in LA and also all over the world,” he said.
Ciblis explained that before starting its product development, KONA conducted extensive research on the state of the BaaS space and found that many developers where keen on using a BaaS but lacked the flexibility and extensibility that most of the times is required for mobile development projects.
“We took all this feedback and created our product around a cloud provider that allowed us to inherit its trust and stability so we could focus on creating our specific features for developers,” he said. “KONA Cloud is positioned as an extensible cloud development and execution platform for BaaS, that runs on top of an always-expanding network of data-centers around the world which KONA Cloud leverages.”
Ciblis said that since its launch in September, the reaction has been phenomenal. “We haven’t yet done any real marketing as we are waiting for Q1 2015 to launch our big marketing campaign,” he said. “Still, we have gathered more than 400 accounts just by tweeting or telling people to get to know KONA Cloud in our network. Developers are telling us that they are experiencing huge savings in time, money and peace of mind with KONA Cloud. We now have people using KONA Cloud in USA, England, Brazil and Uruguay to name a few. We couldn’t be happier. And this is just the beginning.”
So where to now for KONA? Ciblis said: “We have built the platform. We have created something that allows us (and anyone) to create amazing new products.”
He added that they have a roadmap for KONA that is really exciting. “The most important thing for us is our community and our developers. We listen our community a lot and create new features all the time,” he said.
Ciblis said: “We love the Internet of Things (IoT) wave of products and services that are coming, and we are working on products for that, built, of course, with KONA Cloud. We are also working with great teams to build amazing new tech to enable anyone to create mobile apps, front-end and back-end. Each week we have new KONA Cloud features being released.”