About Galax Pay
Galax Pay is a management platform for collections, including credit card, payment slip and Pix, with a focus on automated payment management. As a Brazilian Fintech business, Galax Pay is integrated with credit card operators to facilitate the recurring billing process. It also offers access to complete sales data reports, single billing through payment gateways, customisable reports, automated management and other convenient billing tools.
The company understood that one of the biggest challenges faced by Brazilian entrepreneurs is the lack of financial predictability, which prevents investments and improvements in companies. The Galax Pay recurring payment system was created with the aim of offering companies security in receiving monthly payments to put an end to the problem.
As a result of an economic crisis impacting the country, defaults grew at an alarming rate throughout 2015. It was then that Galax Pay’s current CEO, Márcio Vinícius, realised that improved collection and receipt processes were vital. At the time, no company offered automatic credit card debit services for customers at a viable cost, and thus Galax Pay was founded.
About the System
Galax Pay’s primary purpose is to simplify payment management through automation and facilitate the process of making and receiving both one-time and recurring payments. Acting as a payment intermediary among banks, companies, and clients, Galax Pay enables payments to be made and received using a variety of methods – including direct debit, and Pix, a free instant electronic payment platform managed by the Central Bank of Brazil. Companies using the Galax Pay system can control all payments with reports and facilitate communication with end customers. Galax Pay currently processes more than R$45 million monthly ($8.44 million USD) and serves over 2,700 customers.
The Business Challenge
Galax Pay’s growth was initially slow-going due to the restrictive on-premises infrastructure hosting their solution. Day-to-day issues with the infrastructure demanded the majority of the lean team’s focus, reducing the amount of time available to work on the development of the solution. Galax Pay’s team was made up of 27 people, with at least 10 people having direct involvement with release processes, environment monitoring, and the creation of test and validation environments. A significant portion of the team was very lean – which became a clear bottleneck for growth, due to the fact that within an on-premises environment, the more developers are hired, the greater the infrastructure-related needs become.
Due to the absence of automated deployments (CI/CD pipelines) and deployment strategies, new versions of the applications were largely unavailable. There was a misuse of the repository itself, where the concepts of GitLab development branches were being applied incorrectly. In the absence of containers, a setup on the developer’s machine (per application) was necessary – generating problems related to availability in the final environment. This directly involved the environments created in a developer versus tester relationship, with several test environments required, and a high amount of merging necessary for a version to go into production.
A package was generated manually and made available on the server, with no integration mat (CI) or availability mat (CD). There was no deployment strategy defined (such as a blue green deployment strategy), and a released version was distributed to all clients at the same time. Most releases required interruption in service to the end customer, and for a Fintech offering, this decreased efficiency and reliability can be damaging to the reputation of the company. Furthermore, the very use of repositories in GitLab and the strategy of non-prod environments also needed to be revised so the company could manage quality control through the use of testing environments and increase speed of releases through automation.
The Brazilian fintech also required PCI DSS compliance to demonstrate its commitment to data security in the payments industry. Whilst having a secure environment is the first step towards meeting the standards, it’s the ability to maintain compliance on a continuous basis that must be proven.
Galax Pay sought the assistance of DNX Solutions to carry out an on-prem to cloud migration in order to achieve the growth they were seeking. Through this transformation, DNX directly influenced the ability of Galax Pay to attract investors and scale with the added business growth of the investment – resulting in an investment by CelCoin.
Through executive briefings, DNX gained an understanding of Galax Pay’s existing infrastructure and catalogued what they had on-prem. This highly-skilled step is a critical part of the journey, which not only allowed the DNX team to understand the dependencies and common problems in the environment, but also enabled them to estimate a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), increasing Galax Pay’s insight into their own business. Then, in collaboration with Galax Pay, DNX identified which resources and applications needed to be migrated.
The DNX team also identified redundant and underused resources, including databases that had been replicated across a number of servers and machines purchased for a specific period, such as Black Friday, then left unused for the remainder of the year. Identification of these additional costs assisted Galax Pay in decision-making processes, increasing their opportunities to reduce costs and scale.
The primary outcome of the assessment phase was the creation of a high-level business case outlining several strategies that the team could undertake in order to achieve the project goals. This business case enabled Galax Pay to measure all available options against their priorities and needs, ultimately supporting them to make sound business decisions for the project at hand. The solution was to migrate all applications, based on an evaluation of the customer-facing process. Containers provide a standard way to package the applications’ code, settings, and dependencies into a single object, sharing an operating system installed on the server. Using containers allows the team to deploy quickly, reliably and consistently regardless of the environment.
As an evolution of the virtualisation process, containers scale the application quickly, particularly due to the lack of boot time. As the application is packaged and needs to be made available in different environments — development, approval and production, for example — this method makes it simple to automate the deployment process.
DNX concluded that this method was the best way to track the development of the application, as once the application is containerised, it can be guaranteed that nothing is missing – everything the application needs to work is intrinsically linked to it. The overarching strategy was to ensure maximum availability to the end user.
Once the assessment was complete, the planning process commenced, as the DNX team began designing the architecture and planning the migration to meet Galax Pay’s needs. DNX assessed the cloud readiness gaps and interdependencies between applications that were uncovered in the assessment phase. In addition, all possible migration strategies were evaluated to ensure the most appropriate was selected and updated in the business case. During the mobilise phase, the DNX team deployed Citadel, a well-architected and compliant-ready cloud foundation and then worked with the client to design the application platform.
The proposed solution presented to Galax Pay was to perform the migration by modernising the application and making use of containers by utilising Amazon ECS, which would be run using Fargate. ECS enables the configuration of metrics such as CPU, memory and number of connections, which all assist with auto-scaling. To achieve the elasticity and agility the Galax Pay application needs, Fargate was selected, allowing the containers to be run without the need to manage servers or clusters of EC2 instances. Fargate simplifies the process for Galax Pay by removing the need to make decisions on server types, timing of cluster scaling and cluster packing optimisation. Aside from the simplicity offered by Fargate, it was also the perfect choice for Galax Pay, as it fulfilled the PCI compliance criteria that the environment required. The use of Fargate means that Galax Pay will not have to continuously update the operator system or use anti-virus systems to keep their machines safe.
Before moving on to the third and final phase of the project, DNX finished setting up the landing zone using the secure Citadel foundation, and prepared to migrate a handful of applications as pilots.
After the proven success of the pilot applications, the remainder of Galax Pay’s data and applications were migrated into the secure environment built on AWS. For Galax Pay to benefit fully from everything AWS has to offer, the DNX team performed a modernisation as a part of the migration. By modernising data and applications with cloud-native concepts, Galax Pay was set up for a successful future in the cloud where the efficiency of their operations are optimised. When replicating the database, the DNX team ensured the data was synchronised in an active way. This made it possible to replicate the data in the operational environment and reduced downtime for cutover. Overall, going beyond a simple lift and shift strategy enabled Galax Pay to avoid bringing past problems with them
AWS Services Used
AWS Services Used
Galax Pay approached DNX Solutions Brazil seeking an on-prem to cloud migration – but what they received surpassed their expectations. The customer was after a lift and shift migration to AWS, but DNX delivered a whole modernisation offer following recommended AWS guidelines. Galax Pay was aware of this solution’s existence but considered it to be a venture they would undertake in the future. With DNX, the solution was implemented now, saving Galax Pay from engaging into another project down the line.
As a result, Galax Pay gained increased perception of application availability and performance; decreased time for requests to improvements or bug fixes and its effective availability (reflected in the increase of its grade on the online review platform, Reclame Aqui); and increased customer security by meeting PCI DSS standards.
The application modernisation that was delivered as a part of the migration project led to increased agility and security, propelling the business beyond growth bottlenecks, enabling Galax Pay to hit milestones that were projected to be reached several years in the future.
Increased Investment and Growth
From 2020 to 2022, Galax Pay grew 410% in YTD revenue, while the number of customers increased by approximately 150% from 1,116 to 2,784 customers. With operational challenges due to ageing infrastructure resolved by the DNX migration solution, more focus could be put into the business strategy and promotion. The solution directly resulted in an investment by CelCoin, which acted as a financial impetus leading to a boom in business. The secure and scalable cloud foundation delivered by DNX Solutions ensured Galax Pay was prepared to handle such sudden influxes. It is estimated that the increase in customer base resulting from the migration project would have taken 5 years to reach, had Galax Pay remained operating on-prem.
As a Fintech business with a digital solution, living off a digital channel of applications, technology is the core of the business. The DNX team implemented deployment automation and shared knowledge with Galax Pay regarding GitLab and non-prod environments. This enabled the team to constantly deliver new versions of the applications on a daily basis.
Peace of mind
Galax Pay now operates from the secure Citadel foundation in the cloud, which provides operational and compliance peace of mind through increased resilience, reliability and security.
With infrastructure concerns taken care of, the development team now has time available to focus on the company’s primary goals and build new features for the solution. The move from manually updating the environment to taking advantage of automation has freed up the team’s time significantly. Automation has also allowed Galax Pay to implement new features at a pace that matches their clients’ desires, and quality control has been improved through the creation of test and production environments allowing new features to be tested before being released to customers. Prior to engagement with DNX, Galax Pay was restricted to manually releasing new functionalities on weekends only, and now has the flexibility to release 3 to 4 times per day.
The environment was designed on Citadel, enabling it to achieve PCI compliance much more rapidly due to the underlying environment being PCI compliant at build. Galax Pay used DNX Managed Services to collate evidence for an external PCI auditing company, which confirmed their compliance. This resulted in PCI certification.
Continued use of Managed Services
Recognising the efficiency of DNX’s work during the project, Galax Pay chose to make use of DNX Managed Services on an ongoing basis, which has been delivering value to the company for over one year to date.
DNX currently provides an SRE extension service for Galax Pay, wherein DNX is the partner related to Galax Pay’s AWS and DevOps expertise. This ensures Galax Pay does not need to be looking for specialist labour in the market, as they are paired with a trusted partner. It also provides benefits to Galax Pay’s end users as the internal team can maintain its focus on the business – solving bugs, implementing improvements and adding new features to make life easier for the individuals and businesses who rely on it.