8 Benefits of Using an API-first Video Infrastructure

By Rachel DeSimone on March 18, 2021

Netflix, Amazon, Uber, and Etsy. What do these innovators share in common? 

If you guessed mass adoption of APIs to help them to scale to great heights, you win a gold star. If you are considering an API-first approach in your video infrastructure, you win five gold stars (or probably just read the title of this piece).

As these leading enterprises can attest, success can quickly become a development teams’ scalability nightmare. However, for product and development teams who are tasked with building video streaming infrastructure, scalability is not the only thing video APIs, specifically, can help with. 

Below, we will take a closer look at the benefits of using an API-first video infrastructure: a developmental approach that favors APIs above all else.

So, What is API-first?

The shift for the aforementioned companies was related to an adoption of the microservice architectural style, or further defined, “an approach to developing a single application as a suite of small services, each running in its own process and communicating with lightweight mechanisms, often an HTTP resource API.” 

With streaming leader Netflix showing how it overcame scaling challenges with an API gateway that was handling two billion API requests a year (in 2015), we can begin to understand, if by example alone, that streaming providers have a lot to leverage within the API-first software development ecosystem.

In software development, API-first means approaching development with APIs as the first consideration. As opposed to the traditional style of building all functions into a single piece of code, API-first breaks the single code base into features that can be run autonomously. 

Why You Should Consider an API-first Video Infrastructure

API-first software has evolved in recent years from just a buzzword to a growing industry standard, thanks to the multitude of benefits associated with the approach:

1. Reduced cost

Video developers can leverage API-first video infrastructure to reduce the total cost of innovation, both during the critical experiment stage as well as for long-term operations.

Early in the software development process the costs of building video infrastructure can add up quickly. Since much of that development is likely to be commoditized features or functions that already exist with APIs, it is both logistically and financially unnecessary to build them in-house.   

Longer term, having API endpoints for video allows developers to take advantage of the collective innovation that comes from video infrastructure providers, reducing cost to maintain software as well as getting economy of scale in costs for critical operations like content delivery and encoding.

2. Speed to market

When it comes to launching tech projects, especially apps, time is not on your side. Speed to market is an increasingly important factor, as everyone is trying not only to be better, but also to be first. 

Using an API-first infrastructure allows teams to make much needed (or last-minute) changes while maintaining a flexible design.  

Rather than worry about running open-source encoders, managing servers, orchestrating tasks and monitoring, an API-first video infrastructure will deliver the outcomes of those “homegrown” tools at a lower total cost. Other benefits include less stress on your development team, and support from competent providers.

3. Ability to experiment with flexibility

Instead of building out tech that has no value outside of the organization, engineers can leverage APIs to tap into the functionalities they need while enhancing the already existing core functionality. This approach allows teams to run quick tests, make changes, and invest in where they see traction and user adoption without having to figure everything out from scratch. API-first offers a flexible design strategy; of “use what you need, discard what you don’t need.” 

4. Ease of integrations

APIs can often be integrated into whatever workflow and language you have. Engineering teams can use APIs for integrations to in-house or third-party systems (ex: tapping in and maintaining existing workflows or authentication).

5. Better User Experience (UX) and Developer Experience (DX)

Users and developers alike benefit from an API-first approach. Building applications based on microservices, which are the arrangement of coupled services or features, can help establish a smoother and seamless user experience. Since end-users directly benefit from a better developer experience, leveraging more consistent and reliable APIs will allow programmers to create projects with increasing ease. 

6. Scalability

It is difficult to develop advanced video products without having specific engineering skill sets on a team. APIs’ functionalities will cover video encoding, streaming, and scalability, leaving less for a team to cover internally. Thus, teams can focus their efforts on differentiation, rather than spending time working on commoditized products.

7. Keep pace with the market

API-first is ever-expanding with new offerings driven by market changes. As APIs' growing importance shows no signs of stopping, developer teams will need to face them to “future-proof” their designs and keep pace with the ever-shifting industry. 

8. Security

One of the advantages of API-first architecture is leveraging APIs with built-in authentication, authorization, and threat protection. At various connection points, APIs can offer layers of security firewalls and provide additional protection within the system. 

Leveraging API-First in Your Video Infrastructure

Actionable ways to undertake an API-first approach:

  • Intermesh mobile and tv ecosystems for streaming
  • Bridging to payment providers
  • Connecting to membership and authentication systems.

The beauty of API-first design is that it allows developers to innovate and experiment, usually with public APIs, so companies can toggle what API strategy will provide the most significant ROI.

Begin the Video API Transition 

If the world of video APIs has your team intrigued on how to proceed, or you are still unsure of just how to integrate APIs into streams or manage these different protocols, then reach out to our team of experts at Zype. We provide the infrastructure, APIs, and product tools to help developers launch awesome video apps and experiences.

Zype provides easy-to-use APIs to build typically challenging workflows like creating, scheduling, and archiving live events through a single API call. We’ve built a comprehensive and connected API-first video infrastructure for engineers and developers to consider as they are developing their projects. 

If you are interested in learning more, please visit https://www.zype.com/developers.  


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