System architecture - Java Backend, Database, Mobile Apps

I´m building Java backends with Spring, Hibernate and RDBMSs for a while now. Also I´m regularily working on mobile applications for iOS and Android.

So I have a full stack of technology to use for this task, however I am looking for something maybe more advanced that better fits the requirements. I was having some thoughts about it, but I better first explain how my current systems work and then how I want my upcoming systems to look like.

Currently using

  • Spring Framework to connect everything together
  • Hibernate with Entity beans for persistence
  • MySQL or others as RDBMS
  • DTO objects created with Dozer
  • RESTful API to expose services
  • DTOs are transferred in JSON format

This setup works. But I have the feeling that it´s just too much work and life could be simpler with other technologies.

What I am looking for

On the mobile site, I want to receive data for the current screen that I could easily cache. JSON is something that is already serialized and that would be easy to save to disk in the mobile application, without using yet another database. So the question is, how could I store the data in the backend, so that I can more easily receive it, without using entity beans, DTOs and Dozer to convert between them? Isn´t there another database solution which already delivers JSON? What about graph databases for example, like OrientDB or Neo4J?

I definitely want to go with Java and Spring, and I am open to a replacement for Hibernate, RDBMS and entity beans and DTOs.

Looking forward to your answers!


  1. Your current design (This setup works) has niceties which a good system should have. tiered and good separation of concerns.
  2. If I understand your requirement correctly then, you argument is, if my end data format is JSON then why not store the data in JSON format which will get you rid of lot of plumbing code/effort in the middle tier.
  3. It will directly enable you to fetch the data from the storage and pass it on the requesting client. These are your requirement in nutshell. Please correct me if I am wrong.
  4. Now JSON is more of textual notation and less of storage format. Jason is generally consumed by the View tier of MVC architecture as its easy to render on the screen using Javascript.
  5. Your reasoning of using a NoSQL DB which directly delivers JSON is credible given that tye end client is going to be mobile app.
  6. Overall architecture looks good and highly optimized for Mobile access.
  7. Now coming on the NoSQL JSON storage, following are the Document Store NoSQL DBs which support JSON interface

    i. CouchDB

    ii. JasDB


8.You can evaluate any of these to suite your needs.

(full disclosure - I'm an engineer with Kinvey, a BaaS provider)

One option you might consider is using Backend-as-a-service. Most BaaS providers use JSON to transfer the data over the wire, which sounds like it would be compatible with your requirements.

In addition, you'll typically get a lot of common mobile app functionality baked in (i.e. push notifications, file storage and CDN infrastructure, user management, etc). This could be especially useful if you are building multiple apps, each with their own backend; rather than reinventing the wheel each time, simply spin up a new backend.

One last, but important note, would be pricing. A lot depends on your use case, but from what I've seen, a BaaS provider is usually significantly cheaper that rolling your own solution on AWS or some other cloud provider, especially since most providers offer a free tier.

Even though this question is a bit old, maybe a quick alternative for RDBMS: MongoDB. It is a document database with document-level locking. It scales really well.

Main point: it uses JSON as its document storage (actually the Binary JSON a.k.a. BSON, but that is just a superset). Inserting a document into the database is as easy as


on the mongo shell and

DBObject bson = (DBObject) JSON.parse(JSONstr);

in the java driver.

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