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LifeMiles: Building an Agile Loyalty Program with Kubernetes

LifeMiles is one of the fastest growing loyalty programs in Latin America, with millions of members across the region. Back in 2016, the company decided it needed to embark on a technology transformation in an effort to better serve its customers.

“Everything was basically a monolith with inflexibility, and if we wanted to grow a service, our system had to build a whole architecture over the servers,” says René Denis, IT Director. “Time to market was rather long. We wanted to change the way we were working.” 

Denis and his team were tasked with carving out LifeMiles from its parent company’s systems, and implementing it in a different architecture with different technologies. The team made the decision to move from its parent company’s data centers to Amazon Web Services and embraced microservices, containerization and continuous delivery, choosing Kubernetes for orchestration. 

“We wanted to be as automated as possible, and able to use different technologies for different customers,” says Denis. “Kubernetes was one of the most efficient systems in terms of orchestration and it’s also open source, so it was easy to get started. Because a lot of companies were using it, and it was initially developed by Google, that gave us the confidence that it was a stable platform and would continue to grow in the coming years.” 

The team started with a small pilot with a few internal services on a Kubernetes cluster. The production environment was launched in July 2017, serving the LifeMiles booking engine and a newly developed product for running promotions. They’ve been impressed with the results, which they credit to Kubernetes as “a critical enabler” of their new continuous delivery system.

“The agility in the deployment of applications is remarkable,” says Denis. “Previously we could spend up to two weeks in the approval and application processes. Now with automatic deployment in the different environments and the automatic tests in the pipelines, the validations are much easier and approvals are expedited. Deployments have changed from hours or even days to minutes.”

Another key benefit has been the flexibility they’ve gained. “Before, in order to update capacity of infrastructure or specific systems, we had to upgrade servers,” Cloud and Infrastructure Administrator René Cuchillas says. “Now we can create promotions that will rely on Kubernetes to be able to manage the loads that are required. We can implement promotions from one day to the next and extend them as required. Time to market was really improved by that.” With those load restrictions lifted, the number of promotions LifeMiles has been able to release has increased threefold. 

To read more about what LifeMiles has achieved with cloud native, read the full case study.