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Visa Achieves a 10x Increase in Scalability with Docker Enterprise

Visa is one of the world’s largest retail electronic payments networks and best-known brands. Visa has an ongoing initiative to speed the deployment of new IT services while maintaining the company’s robust availability and security capabilities.

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The following excerpt is from a post originally published in 2017 on the Docker blog.

Visa is the world’s largest retail electronic payment network that handles 130 billion transactions a year, processing $5.8 trillion annually. Swamy Kocherlakota, Global Head of Infrastructure and Operations, shared that Visa got here by expanding their global footprint, which has put pressure on his organization, which has remained mostly flat in headcount during that time. Since going into production with their Docker Containers-as-a-Service architecture 6 months ago, Swamy has seen a 10x increase in scalability, ensuring that his organization will be able to support their overall mission and growth objectives well into the future.

Global Growth Fuels Need for A New Operating Model

In aligning his organization to the company mission, Swamy Kocherlakota, Global Head of Infrastructure and Operations, decided to focus on two primary metrics: Speed and Efficiency.

  • Speed is tied to developer onboarding and developer productivity. Visa wants new developers to be able to deploy code on their first day. That means giving them tools they are familiar with and getting out of their way. It also means providing developers access to infrastructure whenever and wherever they need it.
  • Efficiency is tied to Visa’s ability to maximize utilization of their existing datacenter footprint while also reducing the time the team spends on patching and refreshing hardware. Optimizing their efficiency also frees up both headcount and datacenter resources to support their global growth initiatives.

While considering how they could support these objectives, Visa also has to meet the high bar on security and availability that underpins everything they do. Some of the core systems at Visa have had zero downtime over a span of 20 years!

Modernizing with Docker Enterprise

After investigating different technologies and vendors who could help them achieve both speed and efficiency objectives, Visa chose Docker Enterprise to help them move towards a microservices application model while also modernizing their data center operations.

Visa chose two key applications to begin their Docker Enterprise journey – a core transaction processing application and a risk decision system. These were legacy monolithic applications which they began to containerize into services. Those two applications are now running in production on Docker Enterprise across multiple regions and handling 100,000 transactions per day. Gradually millions of transactions will be routed to this platform. They consist of 100 separate containers and have the ability to instantly scale to 800 when transactions peak.

Results and Benefits

With Docker Enterprise now in production, Visa is seeing improvements in a number of ways:

  • Provisioning time: Visa can now provision in seconds rather than days even while more application teams join the effort. They can also deliver just-in-time infrastructure across multiple datacenters around the world with a standardized format that works across their diverse set of applications.
  • Patching & maintenance: With Docker Enterprise, Visa can simply redeploy an application with a new image. This also enables Visa to respond quickly to new threats, as they can deploy patches across their entire environment at one time.
  • Tech Refresh: Once applications are containerized with Docker Enterprise, developers do not have to worry about the underlying infrastructure; the infrastructure is invisible
  • Multi-tenancy: Docker Enterprise containers provide both space and time division multiplexing by enabling Visa to provision and deprovision microservices quickly as needed. This enables them to strategically place new services into the available infrastructure, which has allowed the team to support 10x the scale they could previously.

Challenge

Despite big investments in virtualization, Visa’s private cloud infrastructure utilization was still below 15 percent, and patching, maintenance, and system refresh cycles created unacceptable downtime.

Solutions

With Docker Enterprise, Visa has refactored two critical payment processing applications and now runs them on Docker’s enterprise container platform, supporting millions of transactions per day.

Results

After just six months in production, Visa achieved a 10x increase in scalability for two customer-facing payment processing applications. Visa processes $5.8 trillion in transactions, while maintaining the company’s robust availability and security capabilities.

Visa by the Numbers

3.1 Billion

Visa Cards

130 Billion

Transactions a Year

10x

Scalability Increase

6 Months

to Docker in Production

“The more we move workloads to microservices, the better the efficiency.”

— Swamy Kocherlakota

Global Head of Infrastructure and Operations, Visa

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