Paybase: Simplify Operations and Improve Observability with a Lightweight Service Mesh

Jul 1, 2020

Meet Paybase, a flexible payment solution that caters to the unique needs of modern platform businesses and progressive enterprises that are “building the economies of tomorrow.” Far from the payment solutions of yore (which were rigid, expensive, and came with a “take-it-or-leave-it” service approach), Paybase prides itself on being flexible, innovative and customer-focused. The company not only provides a seamless, secure, and compliant way to enable payments between buyers and sellers but also offers a wide range of options to help Paybase customers reach their markets quickly and creatively improve their product offerings.

We have been very happy with the results of installing Linkerd. It alleviates a lot of headaches and takes a minimal amount of management time. In fact, when we add a new service to the mesh, everything is automatically configured.

— Ana-Marie Calin, Systems Engineer

Challenge

Systems Engineer Ana-Marie Calin joined Paybase when it was just getting off the ground in 2017. “Joining Paybase gave me the opportunity to be a part of an exciting startup with a great culture and also contribute to a brilliant team that is taking on the substantial challenge of operating infrastructure in the FinTech space,” recalled Calin. “Our infrastructure has to provide peak performance at all times, because we operate in a highly regulated industry that requires encryption, security, high availability, reliability and scalability.”

Paybase has a 100% cloud-native infrastructure. “All of the services on our platform are written as a distributed monolith but are deployed on Kubernetes as approximately 100 microservices,” explained Calin. “I’m one of five system engineers who maintain the infrastructure, and because we run as a small, flat organization, it is important to us that we invest in solutions and tools that help us work more efficiently.”

That led Paybase to explore service mesh in 2018. “We knew we wouldn’t be able to scale up our services the way we needed to if we didn’t have a service mesh,” said Calin. “One of our biggest infrastructure challenges is gRPC load balancing, and we were looking for a service mesh to help us resolve that issue.”

Solution

Paybase explored Linkerd 1.x but wasn’t fond of the JVM-based implementation, so it opted to install Istio instead. As Calin recalls, it didn’t go well. “With too many moving parts, Istio is intimidating, and the installation and upgrade process is hard. Plus, when we opened a bunch of tickets for bugs, we didn’t get the support we needed in a timely way.”

Fortunately, Linkerd 2.0, which migrated the project from the JVM to a modern implementation in Rust and Go, was released soon thereafter, and Paybase quickly made the switch.

“We have been very happy with the results of installing Linkerd,” reports Calin. “It alleviates a lot of headaches and takes a minimal amount of management time. In fact, when we add a new service to the mesh, everything is automatically configured. And Linkerd hasn’t added any appreciable latency or resource overhead.”

“Deploying Linkerd is super easy—just a couple of steps, and you’re done with the install!” described Calin. “Configuring is a bit more challenging, but the guides available on linkerd.io addressed almost everything I needed. I also asked a couple of questions on the Linkerd community Slack channel and quickly got really helpful responses. We did encounter a few bugs in the mesh, and we were very successful in working with the community to resolve those issues. It’s evident that the community cares about its users.”

The collaboration between Paybase and the Linkerd community (as described in this presentation made by Calin and Risha Mars of Buoyant at ServiceMeshCon) is a great case study about the advantages of choosing a well-crafted and strongly supported open source solution.

It’s a choice that has certainly paid off for Paybase.

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