Announcing MBaaS Service Retirement

John Wargo [MSFT]

John

Focusing App Center on DevOps

Microsoft has always been focused on enabling developers to be more productive, to achieve their ambitions, and subsequently make the world better for it. We strive to build amazing experiences so that developers can seamlessly build, test, deploy, run, and monitor their code. Earlier last year, we launched the App Center Auth and Data services in early preview. Together with App Center Push, the three services form the App Center Mobile backend as a service (MBaaS) offering, and give developers an easy entry into using Azure as a backend for mobile apps.

At the start of this journey, we prioritized a growth mindset, the creation of a simple portal and SDK experience, and a customer first roadmap that would evolve based on feedback and feature requests submitted via our App Center repo. As we’ve received feedback and our learning matured, we realized that the better long-term path is for developers to use the native Azure services, namely Azure Active Directory B2C, Azure Cosmos DB and Azure Notification Hubs.

As a result, we are discontinuing efforts in the Auth, Data, and Push services and working to retire these preview services in App Center. With this change, we will focus App Center on delivering a world-class mobile and desktop DevOps experience. We will also work together with Azure teams to help migrate developers to the native Azure services, and ensure that Azure continues to be a great platform for your mobile apps.

What This Means to You

Your apps can continue to use these services for now; we want to give you ample time to consider, and implement other options for your apps before we retire the services. The following sections outline our phased MBaaS retirement plan.

Immediate Changes

Starting today, for apps that do not have any of the retired services configured, we removed each from the App Center portal UI. For any apps configured for Auth, Data, or Push, we implemented a migration experience in the portal to walk you through the process of moving from the retired services. For these customers, we recommend the following:

In an upcoming App Center SDK release, we will remove the Auth and Data SDKs. The App Center Auth and Data services will continue to operate until May 3, 2020, to give customers time to migrate to another solution.

Since App Center Push has more sophisticated backend requirements and more complex migration steps, Push will remain available longer to give customers additional time to complete their migration to a different service.

For more information on how to migrate to a corresponding Azure service, please refer to the migration guides for Auth, Data, and Push.

May 3, 2020

After this date, the Auth and Data services will no longer be available in the App Center portal; the services may continue to operate for a short while after this date, but you will not be able to interact with either service using the App Center portal UI.

App Center Push Retirement Timeline

Microsoft is committed to providing the best notification offering possible and we think the best way to do this is to focus our efforts on a single offering in Azure Notification Hubs. We know many of you value the unique features unique to App Center Push and we want to offer similar capabilities in Azure Notification Hubs. With that in mind, we’re working to create a transition plan which causes the least disruption to our existing customers as they move to Azure Notification Hubs.

When we have more details, we’ll communicate the final plan and timeline for App Center Push retirement.

Moving Forward

Thank you for participating in all our early previews, actively engaging in calls with our team, and sharing your feedback to collectively build App Center. Over the next 6 months, we’ll be hard at work with a list of DevOps focused improvements, and can’t wait for you to see them! As you begin your journey to migration, we’ll be with you every step of the way, so feel free to ask any questions via our App Center Support or share your feedback.

53 comments

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  • Avatar
    James G. Baker

    Very disappointing. The App Center Push integration did seem to make this a much better experience. The vast majority of apps require Push Notifications and it made sense they were a part of App Center.

    If there was a different SDK to do this that would be fine but there isn’t, basically left on your own to cobble it together yourself.

  • yankees gohome
    yankees gohome

    Honestly, this sucks. We invested so much of our time in the Push service at the expense of Microsoft’s short-sighted product decisions. Now, we have to spend months migrating everything to another service. This is not the first time Microsoft has been disappointing to say the least.

  • Avatar
    Olias

    This is a real bummer…
    I really liked the simplicity of using Data and at some extend Auth…
    The default implementation of azure really sucks if all you want to do is simply have an app with online sync.
    Now everyone has to continue developing offlinesync etc. by there own…
    It was the reason why we choose Azure over AWS…

  • Avatar
    Giampaolo gabba

    So… with AppCenter i can add push notifications to my apps in less than 5 minutes. With Azure Notification Hub i dont event get a sdk for Xamarin.Forms (a Microsoft product, btw) and need to write a ton of code in native platform… Not to mention the clunky experience on setting up the hub compared to AppCenter…. this sucks and i will will never, ever, use a cloud service from microsoft anymore….

  • Avatar
    Thomas Galliker

    I read this news while I just spent two weeks of development effort to integrate push notification using AppCenter. The page in AppCenter still says “Preview”. Why can’t you call it “Depricated”? It’s so frustrating. Who is going to pay my effort now? Do you seriously think I’m going to integrate another (expensive) Azure service which takes me another good amount of development time to integrate? SERIOUSLY, MICROSOFT, this is very disappointing.

  • Avatar
    Fredrik Haglund

    Sorry to hear that but unfortunately not surprised. The unified approach weaving together services and simplifying getting started was a good intention. Hopefully the three different Azure teams will improve their SDK and take inspiration from your efforts.

  • Avatar
    Christian Holzmann

    Great… we developed now for over 6 months our app app that is based on appcenter… push and so on… NOW that we have finished it and put it into the stores… microsoft turns everything off…?
    How shall small companies afford another XXXXX€ or $ to let them have their apps reprogrammed….?

  • Avatar
    嘉斌 Jia Pin

    Truly disappointing to learn it today when I was about to start new app. Spent and invested so much resources to implement Push notification (initially lack of documentations) and use it less than one year, it’s retiring. Now have to migrate 5 apps to Azure and relearn everything again. I think MS is trying to make money in Azure by pushing us over. AppCenter Push is so simple and good performance, no way it’s to end if not due to commercial purposes.

  • Avatar
    Cianci Phamily

    Time and time again I have seen Microsoft, over these last five years, drop the ball on stuff like this. We get it – Azure is very profitable. VSAC is not as profitable.

    VSAC is a great product and the fact that it has stalled for over a year now, and you are now removing features from it, is cause for great concern. I wonder how long before VSAC itself gets mothballed.

    If you drop services like this, while other services like Firebase still have them and add to them daily, where do you think your customers will go?

    I don’t use VSAC anymore because I feel like Microsoft isn’t moving it forward. I’m glad I stopped because now it’s actually moving *backwards*.

    • Avatar
      Charles Roddie

      Obviously there needs to be a netstandard or xamarin repo/nuget package to work with Azure Notification Hubs but that doesn’t exist at the moment. I can’t see where is a good place to post to discuss this but if I find the right repo I’ll come back and link here.

  • Avatar
    Eric from in2Facts

    This is really really a problem for us. We are about to release a mobile app to 3 markets for one of our biggest customers.
    We created multiple apps (2 for each market – iOS and Android) – so 6 in total all before end of Jan 2020.
    We did test and and used push notifications on iOS, but not on Android.
    Now Microsoft removed Push from the Android apps (since push was not used).

    This is by no means acceptable as we will not be able to release the Android apps with Push notifications.
    Even if it was preview, you can’t expect people to develop against it and then without proper notice pull the plug.

    I have no problem (well I do have, but it is what it is) with the fact that we have to migrate, but I do have a problem with the fact that we can’t release the app, while media (including TV) was bought.

    Can somebody from the App Center team please get in touch.

  • Avatar
    Marius-Ciprian Nicolae

    We have Push section in appcenter for the Android app, but can’t see it for iOS. We are in the final stage of launching the app with push notifications: what can we do now for the iOS app? In fact, today we uploaded the app in Test Flight and we were planning next week, Monday or Tuesday to publish it.
    Please tell us what can we do with the iOS, in order to be able to launch it with push notifications.

  • Avatar
    Nikollaq Haxhi

    After a very long and effort consuming integration activity of AppCenter: Auth, Data and Push into my solution, I need throw everything away!
    I thought was the right choice moving from Google’s Firebase to Microsoft’s AppCenter for above SDKs, but that would had been better switching to AWS

    Very very disappointing!

  • Avatar
    Trevor Tirrell

    Hey John, the migration documentation is really bad.

    I just finished implementing Azure AD B2C in my app, but had to do so from about a dozen different references. I plan to write a blog and upload a video to help others who are facing this same problem. (www.ttirrell.com)

    So far I am unable to figure out how to implement the Azure AD B2C with ComsosDB. It would be nice to have a tutorial for the migration that would walk us through.

    I haven’t even got to push yet 🙁

  • Vincent C
    Vincent C

    “Microsoft is committed to providing the best notification offering possible and we think the best way to do this is to focus our efforts on a single offering in Azure Notification Hubs”.

    Well not sure this will be the case. AppCenter UI was perfect, the swagger was clear like crystal. I really don’t understand this, now this might lead other services of AppCenter to also drop as a lot of ppl won’t be confident anymore … anyway.

    Would you also keep providing nice features for Xamarin Forms with Notifications Hub ?

  • Ricardo Lopes
    Ricardo Lopes

    This is NOT acceptable ! We are not talking about an old product here.
    We invest so much time on mobile app to make PUSH notifications work. So much money involved and invested by our customers…and by us

    We were relying on Microsoft because of their product strategy and their long term support… this is not the case anymore.
    This is a breaking point !

    We will stop working with Microsoft for our next products, for sure !

  • Daniel Paredes Sánchez
    Daniel Paredes Sánchez

    I had been used Azure Notification Hub before to start using AppCenter, and I need to say that AppCenter Push is the best notification push service that Microsoft offers. Please, I don’t want to go back to use Azure Notification Hubs, AppCenter is easier to implement, and for example we don’t have to use iOS specific certificates.

    As James Montemagno says… “If you want full control over your notifications and don’t mind doing a little bit more work inside of your applications to set it up then Azure Notification Hubs is for you. Notification Hub sits in the middle of your server and devices to handle registration and offer a single source” this is the Azure Notification Hub description, but I only want a “solution for implementing push notifications my mobile applications” that it is exactly the AppCenter description that makes James Montemagno.

    https://montemagno.com/push-notification-options-for-xamarin/

    If James Montemagno says that, who is the Principal Program Manager, Mobile Developer Tools of Microsoft, I think that you should keep both push services.

    In addition, I had a conversation with the Microsoft Support and they recommended me to use AppCenter, for some problems of the iOS13 update that affected to some configurations into the Azure Notification Hubs.

  • Avatar
    David McKay

    Many thanks M$FT. Your acquisition and slow dissolution of Hockey App and half its good attributes makes me so happy. With Google absorbing FireBase, now I don’t need to worry about these smaller companies innovating and simplifying the xplat mobile development experience. Long live the oligopoly.

  • Juan David Nicholls
    Juan David Nicholls

    Ohh guys, I think it’s a wrong decision, can you analyze it again? Push Notifications is a very important feature for our apps and the mobile experience that you want to provide as a company, this was one of the reasons we choose AppCenter instead other platforms, without Push Notifications, Analytics or CodePush, AppCenter looks very basic, no one reason to still using it

  • TikTok Rocker's
    TikTok Rocker's

    This is really really a problem for us. We are about to release a mobile app to 3 markets for one of our biggest customers.
    We created multiple apps (2 for each market – iOS and Android) – so 6 in total all before end of Jan 2020.
    We did test and and used push notifications on iOS, but not on Android.
    Now Microsoft removed Push from the Android apps (since push was not used).

    • John Wargo [MSFT]
      John Wargo [MSFT]

      As I’ve explained in several other responses here, you can turn the Push UI back on by setting PNS credentials in your app using the App Center REST API. Don’t forget too about the blue chat button in the lower-right corner of any App Center page, that connects you directly with our dedicated support team and they could have directed you on how to reenable Push for your app.

  • TikTok Rocker's
    TikTok Rocker's

    Ohh guys, I think it’s a wrong decision, can you analyze it again? Push Notifications is a very important feature for our apps and the mobile experience that you want to provide as a company, this was one of the reasons we choose AppCenter instead other platforms, without Push Notifications, Analytics or CodePush, AppCenter looks very basic, no one reason to still using it

  • Avatar
    Dave Ferguson

    Would like to add another voice as to how disappointing this is.

    This was very easy to set up and use and we were able to get a non-developer to take over sending the notifications.
    We have a requirement to send notifications only to users who have logged in to use certain private features of the app, and found the Audience feature very handy for this.
    We’re also logging the App center device id in our own data store with a view to being able to use that but it seems this will become useless information.
    In addition, we have a future requirement to be able to automate sending of these notifications, but if I’m reading correctly you will have to pay $200 a month to be able to do this.

    • John Wargo [MSFT]
      John Wargo [MSFT]

      The problem is that in App Center Audiences are limited to 1,000 devices and for many of our customers that limit prohibited them from using Push the way they needed to for their app. Azure Notification Hubs doesn’t have that limitation and has a lot more flexibility in how you send notifications. I don’t understand your comment about storing the device ID and that being useless information – that’s the best way to do it, store the device ID, and using your app’s internal logic to build the list of devices that need a notification then send to them via the REST API. You could easily build a UI that your non-developer could use to send different types of notifications. You can also use tags, much more flexible than Audiences in Push, to do some very interesting things with large notifications. You do not have to pay $200 to do any of this in Notification Hubs. Feel free to reach out to me first dot last at microsoft.com and I’m happy to work through this with you.

  • TikTok Rocker's
    TikTok Rocker's

    Honestly, this sucks. We invested so much of our time in the Push service at the expense of Microsoft’s short-sighted product decisions. Now, we have to spend months migrating everything to another service. This is not the first time Microsoft has been disappointing to say the least.

    Very disappointing. The App Center Push integration did seem to make this a much better experience. The vast majority of apps require Push Notifications and it made sense they were a part of App Center.

    • John Wargo [MSFT]
      John Wargo [MSFT]

      Can you help me understand why you feel the transition will take months? We chatted with our top customers before we announced retirement and most indicated it would take a few weeks at tops. What is it about your environment that you think will drive that out? We’re interested in understanding what we can do to help make your transition easier.