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How Netflix Scales its API with GraphQL Federation

What You'll Learn

1Find out how Netflix takes API aggregation to the next level with Federated GraphQL.

2Learn that you can implement a company-wide unified API without building a monolith.

Netflix is known for its loosely coupled and highly scalable microservice architecture. Rather than expose 100s of microservices to UI developers, Netflix offers a unified API aggregation layer at the edge. But as our business has scaled globally, our ability to innovate rapidly is approaching an asymptote due to the growing number of developers and increasing complexity of the domain. How do you scale out a microservice architecture while providing a single, unified API that enables rapid UI innovation decoupled from a swaying sea of microservices?

In order to address this growing problem, we’ve developed a federated GraphQL platform to power the API layer. This solves many of the consistency and development velocity challenges with minimal tradeoffs on dimensions like scalability and operability. In this talk, we’ll share the story of developing the federated API layer for Netflix’s studio ecosystem and explore possibilities and concerns for applying this approach to other domain areas.

Jennifer. Stephen, what is your work these days?

Stephen: These days, I've been changing lots of diapers and making blueberry-banana pancakes with my two-year-old (I'm on parental leave right now.) Prior to that I spent the last year building a platform for APIs that allows teams at Netflix to iterate more quickly by exposing their APIs directly to the UIs and to the consumer. It's this Federated GraphQL platform that we’ll be talking about.

Jennifer: I work on the Netflix API team. For the past several months, I’ve been working on a multi-team initiative to deliver a Federated GraphQL prototype for the Netflix consumer experience.

What is the goal of your presentation?

Jennifer: For many organizations, API aggregation has historically meant an orchestration tier that's full of logic. We are hoping that after this talk, people could rethink what API aggregation means, that it can simply be a platform that enables APIs to be aggregated, without necessarily housing any business logic in order to achieve this.

What would you like attendees to walk out of the presentation with?

Stephen: Enlightenment and inspiration. Also some API stuff.


Jennifer Shin

API engineers for Netflix's consumer and studio experiences
Jennifer Shin is a member of the API Systems team at Netflix where she scales APIs for both the content production and streaming worlds. Delivering highly available content to millions of users worldwide and designing APIs with a view toward availability and usability has been a joy and all-time... Read more


Stephen Spalding

API engineer for Netflix's consumer and studio experiences
Stephen Spalding first encountered the joys of distributed systems while writing multiplayer games for the TI-83 during math class in 8th grade. After earning Master’s degrees in electrical engineering and image processing from GA Tech and ENSEEIHT respectively, Stephen dove into medical... Read more Find Stephen Spalding at:

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