After deploying and managing a do-it-yourself (DIY) Kubernetes platform for several years, Lavego AG founder Florian Gohlke saw that the complexities of managing a Kubernetes environment required skills that few members of his DevOps team possessed.
In the merchant payments industry in which Lavego AG competes, downtime can be particularly costly. To bolster his team’s Kubernetes managing capabilities and ensure reliability, Florian began looking for a Kubernetes solution that could be easily installed and managed, and that could ensure reliability.
In evaluating Kubernetes solutions, Florian saw that D2iQ provided the easiest deployment and management capabilities, as well as the strongest security and availability. Since implementing the D2iQ Kubernetes Platform (DKP) as the foundation of its payment network, Lavego AG’s business has flourished. The company is able to offer innovative payment options to merchants and partners, and looks forward to further innovation in partnership with D2iQ.
A Maverick Payment System
Lavego AG, part of Unzer Group, has been a contrarian in Germany’s financial services sector for nearly 30 years. As a startup, Florian was forced to find an alternative to the expensive payment system that held a monopoly in the German merchant payment industry. To create an affordable and flexible payment system, Lavego AG built a payment processing solution based on open-source software running on Linux in 1996.
The open-source system he created enabled Florian to overcome the inflexibility of the proprietary solution used by his competitors, particularly its lack of a database and inability to give merchants insights into important data such as central clearing and settlement information.
As technology advanced, Florian recognized that a solution based on containers was the future. Originally intending to base Lavego AG’s system on Mesos, Florian saw that Kubernetes was displacing Mesos as the containerization platform de facto standard. Deciding to go with Kubernetes, Florian led Lavego AG in creating a DIY Kubernetes payment system called Paysphere.
After a few years of managing the DIY Kubernetes platform in house, Florian saw that deep skills were required to manage a complex DIY Kubernetes deployment and that those skills were rare. This led to his decision to migrate to a Kubernetes vendor platform that could be more easily managed by more members of his small in-house DevOps team.
D2iQ Helps Lavego AG Tame Kubernetes Complexity
A DIY Kubernetes solution requires selecting and integrating services from among thousands of options. The beauty of the DKP system, Florian recognized, was the out-of-the box integration of best-of-breed Kubernetes services, made manageable by a centralized control panel. DKP’s ease of use is unique and is achieved through skillful packaging, automation, integration, and elegant design.
A hybrid on-premise and cloud solution was a must-have to permit Lavego to maintain its self-managed and secure on-premise hardware modules while meeting the regulatory requirements for European financial services. The DKP platform easily met this requirement through its ability to run across any cloud, on-premise, hybrid cloud, edge, and air-gapped environment.
Standardization across all cloud and on-premise environments ensures that test and production clusters are identical and are able to be updated at once. Maintenance and other improvements were made simpler through the D2iQ centralized dashboard.
The DKP platform also gave Lavego AG the flexibility to adapt to changing market conditions. In Germany, the girocard (domestic debit card) is used for up to 80% of all transactions. If new requirements from the European Central Bank or GBIC arise, the flexible DKP system makes it easy to set up new Kubernetes services.
Lavego AG’s DevOps team also benefited from D2iQ’s professional services, whose Kubernetes experts were able to lend valuable deployment and management assistance while enabling Lavego AG’s in-house team maintain control of their operations.
The DKP solution has ensured availability through no single point of failure and automated backup, as well as automating scalability through the ability to spin up more containers on demand.
The portability advantages of the DKP platform became apparent when Lavego AG was acquired by Unzer in December 2020. Unzer’s infrastructure runs on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Florian sees an advantage in being able to easily move to any cloud service for cost or feature benefits.
“We can have hybrid or on-premises environments as well as different cloudproviders without the risk of a vendor lock-in,” said Florian.
The DKP platform is built to enable customers to handle fast data pipeline traffic, including Apache Kafka and Apache Cassandra, which Lavego AG uses within its transaction processing network. Although Lavego AG currently processes dozens of transactions per second, it feels confident in its ability to scale and has tested processing up to 500,000 transactions per second within the DKP framework.
"One of the big advantages of D2iQ is that they run off a native Kubernetes, and they’ve built around it to simplify everything that we do. That is what drove our decision, and that we can also be independent in some of our processes."
– Florian Gohlke, Lavego AG Founder & CEO
Innovating for A Competitive Edge
Running on a reliable and easily managed DKP platform has enabled Lavego AG to create innovative services that yield competitive advantages. A key advantage has been gained by the ability to use the services that run in Kubernetes to communicate with external authorization systems and databases in which the master data is stored. “It’s a huge advantage between us and our competitors,” said Florian.
Another competitive advantage has been gained by the ability to onboard new partners and merchants through a fully automated API. “There is no one else in the market that has an API for onboarding, so that’s a huge step for us in the future,” said Florian.
Yet another competitive advantage has been gained by the ability to process the international nexo protocol family in parallel with the proprietary German protocol.
Looking forward, Florian and Lavego AG are aiming to build off what was built with D2iQ to modernize the way that they can onboard new merchants and partners through a fully-automated AP, which would make Lavego AG the first in the market with this solution. These are goals that wouldn’t be possible without the infrastructure, platform, and trusted partnership built together.
These are advantages that would not be possible without the Kubernetes infrastructure and trusted partnership shared by Lavego AG and D2iQ, said Florian.
“D2iQ has a customer that is happy and we have strong attention in the market. It’s a win/win situation,” he said.