Firebase is an awesome “backend as a service”. It is very very quick to setup and it works with a plenty of programming languages. It is especially useful, when you are at a hackathon. A few months back, Firebase was acquired by Google and I had a chance to stop by Firebase’s offices, literally a 2 minute walk from mine. Firebase is also an extraordinary tool for realtime data.
Jenny Tong from Firebase had a very interesting talk, which showcased creating a new application, a few games and some existing applications that use real time data. (think games like arkanoid, plotting buses on a map, messaging applications etc).
Firebase offers a free plan, which should be sufficient for most prototypes, hackathons etc.
Also, Firebase has offers hosting and even has its own deploy toolkit (similar to heroku) that might be helpful, if you are building real time applications.