IMDb is the world’s most popular source for movie, TV, and celebrity content. It deals with a complex business domain including movies, shows, celebrities, industry professionals, events, and a distributed ownership model. There are clear boundaries between systems and data owned by various teams.
Historically, IMDb uses a monolithic REST gateway system that serves clients. Over the years, it has become challenging to manage effectively. There are thousands of files, business logic that lacks clear ownership, and unreliable integration tests tied to the data. To fix this, the team used GraphQL (GQL). This is a query language for APIs that lets you request only the data that you need and a runtime for fulfilling those queries with your existing data.
It’s common to implement this protocol by creating a monolithic service that hosts the complete schema and resolves all fields requested by the client. It is good for applications with a relatively small domain and clear, single-threaded ownership. IMDb chose the federated approach, that allows us to federate GQL requests to all existing data teams. This post shows how to build federated GraphQL on AWS Lambda.