Firebase started out as a database backend service for real-time apps, but today it’s taking a step in another direction. The company is expanding its platform with a hosting service for web apps. Firebase Hosting is meant to be a production-grade hosting service for developers. This is a major move for the company and turns it from “just” a database service to a more fully featured platform.
The company argues that while mobile apps are essentially hosted in the various app stores — and their back ends handled by Firebase, Parse, Microsoft, Google and other services — there is not an equivalent service for web apps. Hosting these apps can be a pain for developers, too. They have to deal with CDNs, SSL certificates and server configurations.
As the company tells me, the idea here is to offer developers a complete package for their apps (realtime database + hosting), so they don’t need any other backend infrastructure.
Firebase Hosting handles all of this, including automatic SSL certificate provisioning. Deploying an app also just takes a single command and the same goes for rollbacks. To keep things running smoothly, Firebase built support for Fastly’s CDN with data centers around the world right into its solution.
For developers who don’t need a custom domain (maybe while they are still prototyping their app), the service offers a free tier. Once developers want to deploy these apps, they have to go with one of Firebase’s paid plans, which now include support for the hosting service as well as 10GB of storage and 1TB of transfer.
It’s worth noting that Firebase doesn’t sell its hosting service separate from the rest of its services. You could, of course, host on Firebase and use another backend service for all or parts of your application, but it’s hard to see how that would make any economic sense.
Firebase tells me it currently has 70,000 developers on its platform, and it already hosts over 1,300 sites that were deployed during the beta period.