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19 May, 2021

Five reasons you don't want to outsource your backend. And why you might want to reconsider

Analyzing this cornerstone question in relation to telematics — whether to build the entire infrastructure in-house or outsource parts of it to specialized services.

For a high-tech business such as telematics or IoT solution availability, performance, security, etc. are essential ingredients that bring the project on par with the competition. Is it easier to take care of these aspects using internal resources or delegate some tasks to specialized businesses? We’ll consider five concerns that may pop up when making the decision as well as their flipsides.

1. Lack of control

Absolutely valid argument — entrusting the heart of your system to a third party takes courage and confidence in your technology partner. 

Sure thing, if you have the expertise and resources to develop, maintain, and scale your own backend, you are more than welcome to get your hands dirty building this part of your solution. Just evaluate the pros and cons realistically (don’t forget to account for a worst-case scenario).

On the other hand, finding the right partner takes time, effort, and communication. Then you want to perform extensive testing and build a fully operable proof of concept that covers all the key functionality to be included in the final product. Take your time to familiarize yourself with the peculiarities of the platform and the ecosystem around it — backend is not something you want to part ways with in a few years (divorce can be painful both mentally and financially). Be reasonable in your choice — it’s not the time for a leap of faith.

For instance, flespi gives you unlimited access to a Free account for development and testing purposes so that you could make sure it meets all your needs and requirements.

2. Security concerns

The security aspect is often the most sensitive one especially in relation to personal data. Outsourcing the backend means that your customers’ data from telematics and IoT devices will first touch the hard drives on the third-party servers. Does this fact make the transmitted data more vulnerable? No, if all the links in this chain are properly protected.

Communication from the tracker to the backend platform (both on-premise or cloud-based) can be protected if a tracker supports a secure connection — for example, the flespi platform is ready to accept TLS-encrypted traffic from Teltonika trackers. 

Communication from the backend platform to the destination (downstream application, cloud service, etc.) is secured by tried-and-true SSL encryption. So if the hardware and backend software providers are picked right, the additional link will not be the weakest one on the chain.

You can check what the flespi platform offers in terms of security in a dedicated article.

3. What about performance?

High performance in any system (be it a piece of machinery, an algorithm, or a human body) is usually achieved by iteratively honing its operation for extended periods of time. Perfection does not come overnight. Indeed, most would rather buy a car from an established car manufacturer than a newly founded company.

Businesses deciding whether to build a backend infrastructure in-house or use an existing one are usually not into telematics, networking, or server administration (at least it’s not their core competence and not how they make money). These businesses usually specialize in developing solutions to tackle the problems of their customers. 

Technology companies like flespi, in turn, specialize in solving the problems of these solution development businesses. It’s just a matter of focus and expertise. Ours is to develop a high-performance, high-availability backend to cater to the needs of telematics and IoT development companies. And we’ve been building up this experience and expertise for almost 20 years. 

We do not suggest you use our car, but rather install our engine into your car and get guaranteed performance and maintenance.

4. Support: will they help me out?

When it works as expected (or better), everyone is happy. When something goes wrong, the root of the problem has to be detected, the responsible party notified, and the consequences fixed asap. 

Emergencies cannot be completely ruled out but their number and consequences can be minimized by the professionally designed distributed architecture, reliable platform health check, admins who never sleep, and notification system that keeps everyone posted. 

If it’s not an emergency, but you need guidance on project architecture or assistance accomplishing certain technical tasks, you want to be consulted by a skilled professional with both fine-grain and big-picture thinking. You can hire one, or use the collective mind of 10

BTW, have you ever talked to Jan in our chat? He truly cares about your success, internalizes your problems, and approaches the tasks in a holistic manner. You know what, I would entrust him with my life if he was a doctor! And we have quite a few Jans on our team.

5. Legal restrictions

This one does not depend on your willingness or non-willingness to outsource part of your infrastructure. On the contrary, it determines and regulates what you can outsource and where. Usually, it has to do with the national legislation that restricts personal data from leaving the country’s borders (like in Russia, some countries in the Middle East, etc.).

One way here is to rely on a local datacenter to host your backend infrastructure. You just have to make sure your technology partner provides the level of availability, performance, and service suitable for your business.

Another way is to use a distributed backend platform hosted in different locations across the globe and pick the acceptable geography for your data. If there’s no suitable location, contact the target backend provider and discuss possible solutions.

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All in all, developing a reliable high-performance telematics or IoT backend requires a deep understanding of the narrow technical domain, a clear picture of the market trends and demands, genuine care of a customer, and a dream team to turn it into reality.

It’s up to you to decide if you want to make it or buy it.

P.S. But you want to talk to us to make a fully informed decision ;)