Build vs. Buy: Essential Considerations When Choosing To Build or Buy an API To Integrate SMS into an App

Posted on September 19, 2022

If you are a CIO or developer, you have two options when your company or client asks you to investigate integrating text messaging into its app. Will you buy an SMS/MMS API or develop one from scratch? Companies in every industry are seeking solutions to incorporate text messaging into their marketing strategy or daily operations. SMS has proven advantageous to numerous companies, offering a more personal, efficient, and trackable means to communicate with users.

Building an API can offer considerable value to your company or client, but premade SMS/MMS API solutions simplify integration, saving time and money. When determining the ideal solution, consider essential factors like the product lifecycle, scope, resources, and risk.

This blog will discuss the primary considerations when determining whether to build or buy an SMS/MMS API. We will compare building an API to buying one and why you may want to buy an SMS/MMS API.

Considerations Before Deciding To Build or Buy an SMS/MMS API

When deciding to build an API from scratch or buy an API to integrate SMS/MMS into an app, several considerations can help. What is your client or company’s vision for the text messaging service? Is coding the API from scratch necessary, or would buying the API meet your client or company’s objectives? Consider the following before making a decision.

Product Lifecycle

The product lifecycle can be a primary concern when determining whether to buy or build an SMS/MMS API to integrate texting into a company’s software. When you build an SMS/MMS API for a client or company, that API will require maintenance throughout the product’s lifecycle. Lifecycle maintenance can include patching and updating the API and having an IT team to maintain the data, security, and infrastructure. Buying an SMS/MMS API provides your client or company with a cloud-based infrastructure and the ability to add numbers from a self-service management portal.


The project scope can significantly influence your decision to build or buy. If your client or company’s objective is to create a complex messaging service, such as an SMS/MMS service with end-to-end encryption, an API built from scratch would be ideal.

Buying an SMS/MMS API is more valuable to companies looking to integrate two-factor authentication via SMS into their login server or e-commerce companies that want to send status updates to clients. An SMS/MMS API would provide everything the company needs without significant effort from the developer or IT department.


Developing an API to integrate text messaging into your client or company’s application can be complex and time-consuming. Building an SMS/MMS API gives you complete control over the development to build a solution tailored to the company or client’s needs, but it can take months to develop a functional product.

You can save some time using an open source API and adding the functionality you need, but the work and testing to ensure the resulting product meets your client or company’s needs can be extensive.

Building the API can require most or all of your time. If you work in a corporate setting this can mean delegating your other tasks, and if you work with several clients it can mean missing out on other projects. Buying an API offers a quick and easy solution, allowing you to move on to other projects and providing a shorter lead time to satisfy your client or company.


Buying an SMS/MMS API comes with a monthly or annual fee, but building an API to integrate text messaging into an app can cost more in the long run. In addition to the time spent developing and testing the API, your client or company will need to shoulder the cost of maintaining the API. The total cost of ownership (TCO) includes data, security, and infrastructure for the messaging service, along with maintenance and upgrades.


If you build an API for a client or company, it will need to scale with their demand for features, new users, and geographic locations. Adding new services and features will require new lines of code, and new users or geographic markets will require in-house or third-party infrastructure. 

If you choose to buy an API and integrate it into your client or company’s software, the API provider allows you access to a carrier-grade network to scale the SMS/MMS services. If you select an API provider with a metered (pay-per-message) plan, your client or company will only pay for the messages they use. The payment plan allows the company to scale up on-demand for product launches or busy seasons.


Adding text messaging to an app or CRM can be part of a company’s digital transformation; however, digital transformation projects can fail up to 70% of the time. If you are a developer for a corporate IT department, this can chill future IT projects and threaten the company. The failure of a large-scale IT project can also have significant repercussions if you are developing the API for a client. Buying an API tends to be a lower-risk investment.

Related: Modernize Your Enterprise Communications With a Cloud-based Carrier

Advantages of Building an SMS/MMS API From Scratch

Building an SMS/MMS API from scratch offers several benefits if your client or company has the appropriate resources. It provides your client or company control over the messaging system, security, data, and scope.

While buying an API can be an efficient solution that meets the needs of many companies with minimal effort, some companies prefer the control of building their own messaging API. For instance, if your company or client wants a tailored SMS solution that they will have complete control over, developing an API from scratch may offer more value.

Advantages of Buying an SMS/MMS API

Buying a text message API for your client or company’s app provides a fast and efficient integration. As a developer, you can provide a complete solution to your client or company without hours of coding, providing a better experience overall. In many cases, an API allows you to integrate SMS/MMS into an app in a few lines of code.

SMS/MMS API providers typically provide SDKs to help you integrate the API and quick start guides for microservices like two-factor authentication. Many SMS/MMS APIs work with the programming language of your preference. You can add the necessary features and provision additional phone numbers on demand, often from a self-service management portal. API providers can also work with the company’s preferred carrier and existing hardware.

Your client or company will also appreciate the following benefits:

  • The ability to scale with a carrier-grade network
  • Cloud-based infrastructure and maintenance handled by API provider
  • Servers throughout the country or globe for reliable communication

Related: The Benefits of Self-Service Telecom Models

What To Look for in an SMS/MMS API Provider If You Decide to Buy

If you are a CIO or developer looking to buy an API to integrate text messaging into a company app or CRM, there are four critical aspects to look for in a provider.


A reliable API provider network means less downtime. If your company or client’s app needs 24/7 uptime for users to communicate, near-perfect reliability is essential. Look for an SMS/MMS API provider that offers a reliable connection throughout the geographic area the app will be operating.

Redundant features like failover services will make sure important text messages are sent and received successfully. A provider that avoids grey routes and aggregators will ensure you are getting the application-to-person (A2P) traffic you expect.


As we mentioned earlier, the ability to scale a text messaging service can be critical to a company’s operations. Since the API will be using the API provider’s infrastructure, ensure the API provider has a network in place that will adapt to your client or company’s incoming and outgoing messages. The pricing plan the API provider offers can also facilitate scalability. For example, if a provider charges a flat rate for 5,000 messages per month, will the API provider offer flexibility when the company’s messages trend toward 6,000 per month? A metered payment plan lets you scale to the exact number of messages the company needs.


When selecting an SMS/MMS API provider, cost per message and flat-rate plans can vary. A metered payment plan typically lowers costs, by allowing your client or company to only pay for what they use, while also offering the scalability mentioned above. 


Developer resources can be invaluable to you as the developer or your development team. A great SMS/MMS API provider will offer SDKs, quick start guides, sample code, and other resources to simplify integrating the API.

Choosing a REST API for SMS/MMS can also reduce your workload. Representational state transfer (REST) APIs use simple and uniform commands and common data types to help you integrate the API more efficiently into any programming language. They can also benefit your client or company with fast and resource-light messaging.

Is Building or Buying the Ideal Choice for Your SMS/MMS API?

Building an SMS/MMS API from scratch can be a major project for you as the developer and your client or company’s IT, but it can add significant value to the company’s software. Buying an SMS/MMS API is a more cost and time-efficient solution that gives your client or company access to full-featured text messaging and a world-class carrier-grade network. Deciding which choice is ideal depends on several factors, but buying an SMS/MMS API is sufficient for most companies.

An SMS/MMS API from Flowroute provides you with an SDK, articles, and quick start guides to integrate microservices into the API and make the software work for your client or company. Your company will get the reliability and scalability of the Flowroute HyperNetwork™, access to SMS records, and the ability to provision numbers quickly on a flexible metered payment plan. Get started developing with Flowroute today. 

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