Case Study

India’s leading digital payments app gets comprehensive visibility into its tech stack

Executive Summary

As India’s leading digital payments app, Freecharge is the one-stop solution for all the financial needs of its customers — from mobile recharge and grocery shopping to insurance and utility payments. With a complex microservices environment monitored by a disparate set of tools, each infrastructure, development and business team had a fragmented view into the performance of their tech stack, which wasn’t providing the insight they needed to best protect and enhance customer experience. SignalFx provided a unified monitoring platform upon which Freecharge could standardize.

With SignalFx, Freecharge’s teams are able to:

  • Optimize their microservices environments to keep the service running smoothly
  • Maintain the security and compliance required for delivering a modern financial service
  • Resolve issues with uptime and latency 60% faster than before through KPI monitoring from SignalFx’s dashboards
    • Disjointed set of monitoring tools wasn’t keeping up with Freecharge’s microservices environment
    • Resolving application issues was a time-consuming job that could take hours and required knowledge of multiple tools
    • No insight into key business metrics (like uptime and latency) that impacted customer experience
Business Impact
    • The business team is alerted to issues in minutes, compared to hours with the prior tools
    • KPI monitoring from SignalFx’s dashboards has enabled the customer success team to optimize customer experience by resolving issues with uptime and latency 60% faster than before
    • With the insights SignalFx provides into its system, Freecharge has been able to reduce over a thousand compute instances down to under 700, resulting in significant cost savings
Data Sources
    • AWS EC2, S3, EMR, and RDS
    • VictorOps
    • External payment gateways

Fragmented monitoring tools, insufficient observability

To increase agility and maximize the productivity of its developers, Freecharge’s infrastructure team maintains a complex microservices architecture with over 130 different services deployed on AWS, leveraging AWS platform offerings including EC2, S3, EMR and RDS. This modern architecture has enabled the development team to ship code at a rate of eight to 10 releases a day without any downtime.

But with seven different tools for monitoring, including Nagios, Zabbix and AppOptics, Freecharge’s teams weren’t speaking the same language, which was slowing them down. If an issue was impacting the system, discovering the root cause was a time-consuming job that could take hours and required knowledge of multiple tools. Freecharge needed an observability solution that could monitor its internal system metrics, as well as the application and business metrics tied to external merchants, so every team would have the visibility they needed from a single, manageable platform.

Standardized monitoring for better outcomes

With SignalFx, Freecharge found the flexible tool that fits the specific needs of each team, providing the company with a single source of truth for the monitoring metrics it needs. The business and customer support teams can track KPIs to protect customer experience; developers are able to confidently ship and debug code knowing they can rely on sophisticated alerting and analytics; and the infrastructure team is able to monitor the performance of the full system in real-time.

In-depth application insights optimize customer experience

With custom metrics from SignalFx, the business team is now able to monitor key KPIs, like the number of API calls and duration of API requests from the payment gateways of its various external merchants,then correlate this latency into dynamic graphs in SignalFx. These dashboards give the business team a real-time view into Freecharge’s entire integration ecosystem so they can understand how each merchant and gateway is performing and where customers may be experiencing issues. If a payment gateway or region is experiencing service issues, the customer support team can work with the external provider to resolve the problem or divert traffic to another gateway to maintain 24/7 uptime for customers.

Powerful, real-time alerting slashes time to resolution

The infrastructure team has set up intelligent alerting to immediately notify them of any anomalies across Freecharge’s environment. The team has integrated these alerts into various communication and incident management tools, including email, Slack, Google chat and VictorOps, to make sure the right people receive the right level of alert based on the severity and impact of the issue.

Once alerted, the infrastructure team is now able to quickly locate the problem and begin remediation. Since adopting SignalFx, the team has been able to shorten time to detect from hours to minutes, reducing overall time to resolution by 60%. And with Freecharge standardized on SignalFx, infrastructure can easily pull in development teams when necessary, further speeding time to resolution.

Significant cost savings, new cloud technologies

As a result of moving to SignalFx, Freecharge has already been able to retire three of its prior monitoring tools. The team plans to continue unifying its monitoring on the SignalFx platform, further reducing its investment in other legacy tools. Furthermore, with the visibility into performance provided by SignalFx, Freecharge was able to transition from more than a thousand compute instances down to under 700 Amazon EC2 instances, resulting in significant cost savings.

SignalFx has also given the infrastructure team the confidence to move forward with the adoption of AWS Lambda for serverless computing as well as other modern technologies like Docker and Kubernetes.

“SignalFx monitors the heartbeat of the entire system our customers interact with — not just our internal infrastructure but also the external providers we’re integrated with via API — so we can easily pinpoint and resolve issues regardless of where they are in our ecosystem.”

Sachin Sharma,
Senior Director, Infrastructure