Visa on Rails and Beyond

By November 17, 2011 January 19th, 2014 Web/Mobile Development

I’ve been awake for the past couple of hours, processing my first day of QCon.

So I’ve heard from SimpleGeo, StubHub, Facebook,, and finally Visa who just launched, Visa’s new payment gateway. For me personally yesterday crystallized a lot, and in particular the last hour with Visa. Visa, in 18 months, launched their product V.Me, using an Agile development process, and, sitting down ? JRuby on Rails on the front end with Java on the backend. So lets repeat that back to ourselves, one of what must be amongst the largest IT shops in the world, who are probably the most paranoid in the world for security and process etc have started adopting Agile, and using rails. Cue blowing of mind.

I stayed on the architecture track, and the one theme that stood out to me, is the focus on getting things to market as fast as humanly possible to enable business innovation. Robert Johnson, at Facebook said something that resonated with me profoundly (paraphrased – didn’t write the exact words!) “if we push to production every day, we get 365 chances to test, vs pushing every week we get only 52 chances a year to test”. That’s not to test things work (ie QA), it’s to test that the theory of this new widget/tweak/whatever is actually going to be adopted by your users. For me, that encapsulates the ‘Lean Startup’ theory on the largest scale world wide, and there was a reason the audience was engrossed listening to Robert speak.

The underlying themes of how to do this was around creating people cultures (allow mistakes to happen and not finger pointing – FB, empowering with sudo access SimpleGeo, going Agile at Visa), systemized continuous delivery (at SimpleGeo, if a commit to ‘pending’ branch passes tests in CI, then Jenkins merges to master and kicks off a deploy), planning for and helping fast debugging/traceability in production (injecting all HTTP requests with a GUID or ‘dye marker’, logging everywhere that goes through the system, Stubhub and SimpleGeo), and rolling your own support systems, so that you have the ability to fix things, and not wait on vendors. (SimpleGeo and FB – own monitoring tools)

A day full of awesome from impressive mindsets, well worth the price of entry. Bring on Day 2.

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