The pandemic accelerated the adoption of digital by what would have otherwise taken 5 years. Digital payments are no longer an option, and digital payments business has never been more relevant than it is today. There have been substantial macro changes which PayPal believes to have a lasting and profoundly positive impact on its business. This is a robust cloud strategy that enables speed which matters for both operational efficiency and scale.

“Our cloud journey started a few years ago. We created a Cloud Center of Excellence in 2019 and our strategy was to begin with somewhat small, low-risk use cases. However, as 2020 unfolded, we were able to move 20 percent of our holiday traffic to the cloud. We operate a hybrid, multi-cloud model. PayPal is a portfolio of brands and through the acquisitions we have made, we have inherited many technology stacks–some of the brands were born in the cloud and some of them were pre-cloud and therefore are in the journey of migration. This year we will be migrating more,” said Wes Hummel, VP of Site Reliability and Cloud Engineering, PayPal.

With over two decades of experience in digital payments, PayPal has been able to see a very clear pattern of traffic volume growth. Every year, the company is able to predict the growth and successfully manage the volume fluctuations. However, the pandemic volume surges disrupted all the company’s previous patterns, and it witnessed an inflection point, making all things unpredictable.

“From an infrastructure point of view, we were looking at ways to scale at a global level across our 200 markets with speed and velocity. Migrating to public cloud-based solutions meant we’d efficiently scale our infrastructure in a way that enables us to create new products and offer unique services and capabilities to our customers, while enabling large volumes of payments,” said Hummel.

“Migrating existing applications to the public cloud in steps has been a successful strategy for us. We moved our developer and test environments to the public cloud before we experimented with processing customer transactions in the cloud. Additionally, security is one of our brand promises. Public cloud is allowing us to enhance and scale the security for all of our environments as we focus on infrastructure as code, automation, and robust security controls,” he added.

PayPal aims to build a sustainable, scalable platform that can handle anomalous traffic well. Hummel believes that cloud has given the company flexibility to increase capacity on demand when required, versus having to prepare for it, buy it and have it sit in the data centers unused, save for a handful of minutes during the peak holiday season. According to Hummel, this has been one of the biggest cost advantages of the business migrating to cloud.

“With the cloud, we now have the capacity to manage volumes which are the peak of peaks. We can bring as much data as we want onto the platform and manage it in a secure way. When we process over a thousand payments per second during our peak, we know that this is not the average payments per second for the rest of the week, or even month. But, with public clouds, we have the flexibility to increase or decrease our capacity during peak times. We can develop faster, build faster and deploy faster because the cloud has proven to be as nimble as we are and need to be as we develop innovative products and services for our customers,” he said.

PayPal has defined a multi-year infrastructure strategy to grow its footprint in the public cloud.
The company expects to shut down one of its Salt Lake City data centers and continue to migrate workloads to the cloud.

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