Building APIs is hard. Scaling them is even harder. Here is a summary of our learnings from Infura’s Co-Founder and Chief Infrastructure Engineer, EG Galano and fellow API builders Nader Dabit (Developer Relations Engineer, The Graph) and Temoc Weber (Co-Founder and CEO, Gateway.fm).
The post was originally published in Infura.
We kicked off the panel with EG, asking him the most common barriers to scalability he’s seen as the first to provide an API solution for Ethereum after founding Infura in 2016.
“You can’t project growth. You can’t project traffic. Typically, when you’re building a project, [it’s] like a game. You know you’re going to launch in May and you can start to prepare. When you’re an infrastructure provider, you don’t have the ability to prepare. You have to make sure you’re architecting systems that can scale almost limitlessly,” said EG.
Choosing an API Provider for Asset Perpetuity
Next, we discussed EG’s advice for running node infrastructure and API services. With so many options in the market, it was important to break down what developers should consider when choosing a service like Infura.
“Take a close look at the technologies you’re using and make sure there’s something like an API continuity plan. Is this API something that is going to continue servicing your users for many years in its current form? Is it going to change under your current application?” he explained.
EG went on to explain that he’s seen NFTs disappear, not because they weren’t on chain anymore, but because the API provider pivoted. Suddenly, NFT owners have to go through significantly more technical steps to regain access to their assets and migrate them to a space they can live in perpetuity. He went on to encourage developers to build responsibly to avoid this.
“As you’re designing, keep in mind that our customers and the people consuming this content are going into it without understanding everything that’s holding it up. So, let’s build responsibly.”
As we continued to delve into the challenges of scaling APIs for different use cases, I asked what drew each panelist to Web3 in the first place. EG’s response told the story of how Infura began.
“I’ve always worked in developer tools and [am] very close to developer-focused applications. It was in 2015 when a friend of mine introduced me to Ethereum,” he said.
EG later went on to meet Joe Lubin, Ethereum co-founder and ConsenSys CEO. He then joined ConsenSys whose mission was (and still is) to further the growth of Ethereum.
“I joined ConsenSys with no specific idea in mind except wanting to understand the problem space. Nothing really clicked until I met one of my co-founders who said, everyone in this space is super talented and extremely smart and they’re all having issues running their infrastructure. Coming from an infrastructure background, I felt like that was a place I could immediately contribute. There was latent demand for something like Infura. So we built it.”
Hybrid Infrastructure as a New Best Practice
As the panel continued, the next important question was to try and understand how an API service could scale across multiple protocols. So many new layer one chains have launched in recent years: Solana, Avalanche, NEAR, and Cosmos to name a few. Perhaps the most interesting part of the panel came when each panelist started to discuss how their services could interoperate and create what EG defined as hybrid infrastructure; a best practice we established during the panel. Hybrid infrastructure is a method of building that involves multiple API solutions working together that increases network resilience and security, while encouraging decentralization.
“It doesn’t need to be a choice of just using Infura or just using Gateway. You have the opportunity, because we support an open standard for API, to use both,” said EG. “And have a structure in place that is more resilient than using just one provider.”
We went on to contextualize hybrid infrastructure within Moxie Marlinspike’s “My first impressions of Web3” piece, where the creator and co-founder of Signal Messaging calls out a reliance on the Infura API. EG quickly refuted this.
“A lot of applications use Infura. But none of them are solely dependent on Infura. And that’s a big difference.”