The Netflix API launched in 2008, but was exclusively a public API at that time. The API space has changed dramatically over the years, though, and the Netflix API has helped pave the way for those industry changes. It has shifted from being a public API to driving one of the more robust consumer-facing products in the world, supporting nearly 33% of the upstream Internet traffic in the US. This evolution has been rapid and hugely impactful in Netflix’s success. But with rapid change comes risk and mistakes. One of our internal mantras is “Act fast, react fast” and the API’s evolution is no exception.
The API evolution, principally, was driven by the fact that it was quickly becoming an internal content distribution pipeline to get our metadata to Netflix-ready devices in people’s homes. Before long, the API grew to support more than 1,000 different device types and was handling more than two billion requests from these devices per day. The audience for the API has changed, its needs have changed, and its infrastructure was changing tremendously.
During these transitions, there were many mistakes. Some resulted in extended outages, others resulted in refactoring of code or APIs, while others still resulted in organizational changes. This presentation will draw from these rich experiences and offer the top ten such mistakes, how they surfaced, their impact, and how we corrected them.
Daniel Jacobson is the Director of Engineering for the API and Playback Services at Netflix, responsible for delivering more than one billion streaming hours a month to Netflix users on more than 1,000 device types. Prior to Netflix, he was Director of Application Development at NPR, leading the development of NPR’s custom content management system. He also created NPR’s API which became the distribution channel for getting NPR content to mobile platforms, member station sites throughout the country as well as to the public developer community. Daniel also co-authored the O’Reilly book, “APIs: A Strategy Guide.
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