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Travelex taps CircleCI to support its scalable software development ambitions as it exchanges legacy for AWS

Mark Samuels Profile picture for user Mark Samuels May 3, 2023
Summary:
The foreign exchange specialist is using DevOps techniques to meet fast-changing business demands for new cloud services.

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Travelex is using CircleCI to build a continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) platform that supports the delivery of cloud-based services.

The company uses the tool as part of its infrastructure-as-code approach, where the technology foundations of the organization are treated as a product that needs to be carefully managed, maintained and updated. 

Travelex is also using CircleCI to support its wider transition from legacy platforms to the AWS cloud. As well as CircleCI, the IT team uses a range of tools and languages, including Terraform, Ansible, Python and PowerShell. 

The scalability of CircleCI’s CI/CD platform was one its most appealing factors, according to Mayank Goswami, Assistant Vice-President at Travelex:

It’s a cost-effective solution, yet it’s scalable and secure. We were using a third-party tool previously, where it required infrastructure to be set up on-premises and in-house. Every time you want to scale that infrastructure, you had to create virtual machines, deploy agents on top of that, and then do all the security patching.

Goswami says the business started looking for a more effective way of deploying technology that would boost efficiency and support its cloud-first ambitions. It became clear that CircleCI offered many of the things that Travelex was looking for:

It’s a complete SaaS-based solution where you don't have to manage infrastructure services. It's available across the globe and you don't have to build infrastructure and test it in each location. We wanted a solution that would cater to the needs of our wider geographical build-and-test requirements. That's where this tool turned out to be the best.

Exchange rate

Travelex began working with CircleCI in 2018, starting with a small implementation that met an initial business case and gradually scaled the technology across the organization. Goswani recalls:

At that time, we were focused on making processes leaner, using automation, and reducing the time to market. We were looking for a solution that is self-managed, cloud-hosted, and that we could adopt quickly. The service was there – the only thing that we had to do was work with our cyber colleagues and get the technology vetted from a security perspective.

After proving the technology through an initial use case, the infrastructure team at Travelex began to focus on an organization-wide implementation, says Goswami:

When we looked at our current and future requirements, and the pace at which we were planning to grow from an AWS cloud perspective, we found that this platform was checking all the boxes. Now, it’s become a strategic tool.

The CI/CD technology is helping the company from an end-to-end perspective, he adds: 

When we started our cloud adoption journey, a lot of our focus was around internal processes. We adopted Agile, we've matured it over the years, and then we moved to GitHub and CircleCI from a deployment, rollout and DevOps perspective. We found that it fitted in really well.

On a day-to-day basis, Goswami says the technology supports the creation of reusable templates. Once templates are created that meet security and cloud-governance standards, they are shared with other groups across the organization:

We shared them with product delivery and they started building CircleCI-based CI/CD solutions. So, once our standard template was ready, the pace of production and adoption accelerated. And since we had multiple projects running in parallel, we just handed over those templates and then they started building things themselves. So, from a speed of adoption perspective, I think it’s really helped us.

Value 

To date, CircleCI has helped cut Travelex deployment times from months to seconds. Crucially, the technology also supports the company’s desire to embrace Agile, DevOps and automation. The business now has the products it needs quickly and effectively, says Goswani:

As a part of our cloud-first strategy, we were looking at what are all the things we could adopt quickly using SaaS. CircleCI fitted in there as well. If we had something manual, and it would have taken months to build or scale, then it would have not fitted with our overall objective of reducing the time to market for production.

Globalization is another benefit. Travelex has a complex range of data centers internationally and CircleCI CI/CD can cater to those requirements. When demand increases, the technology – just like any other SaaS-based product – can be scaled up quickly. Finally, the platform also fits with Travelex’s tight security requirements. Goswami says these benefits mean the technology has a big role to play going forwards:

We are a very old organization with a lot of technical debt and legacy platforms that we had to shift when we migrated to AWS. A lot of modernization is going on as a part of the cloud-adoption journey. CircleCI supports that work and the migration to cloud-native solutions. Creating wider adoption at higher pace is something that we're looking at doing now.

Goswami says it’s important to start small and to think carefully about how technology such as CircleCI’s can be used as part of a shift to the cloud:

Test it thoroughly from all aspects, whether it's security, cost or business value. And then scale it. Don't go for a bigger or multi-year implementation. Start something small, build gradual capabilities, run your solution both in-house, on-prem and on cloud for a few years – and then accelerate your on-demand journey.

It’s crucial to recognize, he advises, that cloud-led digital transformation is unlikely to be an overnight success story. A successful move to the cloud takes patience and the biggest benefits comes to those who ensure a range of competencies are in place:

The foundation itself takes roughly one or two years to build. The foundation includes how you build your solution securely, how you operate a public cloud, and building the people capabilities also takes time. So, spend a good amount of time building your platform at the cloud side, building tooling and expertise around it, and then speed up your cloud adoption journey.

 

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