6 Tech-Savvy Ways An API Outperforms A Database

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As the world moves toward lightweight mobile tablets, smartphones, and other devices, the popularity of the API (application programming interface, for those who like their acronyms broken down) keeps growing.

In fact, there’s an API for just about every special interest, function, or social media desire you might have. And, since all that mobility translates into a more socially active lifestyle—entertainment data is often sought out by developers, content providers, and distributors alike.

In order to deliver this entertainment data-driven content, there are two predominant choices. Manage and maintain a database, or develop an API.

The sage advice from FYI’s expert of the highest order—Chris Stark II, Vice President of Information Technology—is that an API has a number of distinct advantages.

“Naturally, a well-maintained and accurate database is of great importance,” said Chris. “However, there are a number of ways an API can maximize a database for the desired content offering—while remaining versatile and flexible enough to accommodate changes in the database or the delivery needs of a client.”

Here are six advantages an API has over a direct database setup:

Web services are more lightweight—no hosted backend infrastructure.
Because the API is interfacing with the database, there’s no need for a ponderous hosted backend infrastructure. Web services can be offered up on a more fluid, less rigid basis because the API does not require a host to interact with the database. The feature services offered to the web by a backend infrastructure are not required—the API can access and provide up these features through the web.

Real-time updates.
With an API, ETLs (Extract, Transform, Load) processes become unnecessary, because updates may be done on the more favorable “real-time” basis.

“It’s really the difference between a daily feed of updates required for a database setup—which means data is only good until the next update, leaving timely data unchanged until the next scheduled update—or the API. With the API, you get on-the-fly information so changes or late-breaking information can be up to date ASAP. You don’t have to wait for the next update to occur—or stop down to run an update every time critical information needs to be refreshed,” Chris explained.

On-the-fly external access.
Here’s another way an API allows for far more flexibility.

“Being able to externally access the service—on the fly—allows us to make changes without suspending any operations or going through time-consuming steps to update the database. In fact, with an API, we have the ability to source information not just through our own database, but we can also source information from secondary sources of information and external web services—like content providers, production companies, and other sources—to make those changes happen immediately,” Chris detailed.

Encapsulating layers of logic.
“When we separate web services via encapsulating layers, it allows us to make abstract associations on the backend of our structure, without affecting the front end. Naturally, any time we can separate those services and isolate them to the back end; it makes for a cleaner front end transition for improvements, additions, and change,” Chris informed.

Cost savings on licensing & scaling.
There are also benefits of the “money-saving” variety with an API.  And who doesn’t like to save money?

“Licensing and scaling a database can be costly—and with an API all that licensing and scaling is minimized by the interface. Basically, with an API, you let us do the scaling for you. That saves you the time, effort, and inconvenience of managing that database yourself.”

Easier to customize.
The "interface” portion of an API makes it easier to customize than the structure of a hosted database.

“The interface is much easier to change in relationship to the data than a structured, hosted platform tied directly to the data. Tweaks, changes, requests, and improvements to the API are simpler to implement than a structured, mainframe database delivery with its own hosting architecture,” Chris advised.

Those are just six ways an API with FYI can benefit your next project. If you’d like to utilize our APIs for your front end application, just click below. 

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