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Case Study

Modern Treasury

Modern Treasury Logo

B2B SaaS, Fintech

Airplane Usage

Daily usage across 50+ tasks

Modern Treasury is a payment operations platform that offers flexible APIs to automate money movement and a web app to provide control and visibility over fund flows, notifications, and reporting. The company helps users build custom payment flows using REST APIs, make one-time payments through the web app, maintain visibility into payments using webhooks, and more. In March 2022, Modern Treasury raised $50M in its second close of Series C funding led by SVB Capital and Salesforce Ventures.

Modern Treasury uses Airplane as its primary internal tooling platform for critical product operations such as performing restarts, rolling back deploys, and managing vendors.

Managing operations in-house was inefficient

As a payments platform, Modern Treasury strives to be highly responsive to customers' needs. Their on-call engineers frequently execute internal workflows and on-call runbooks to resolve urgent customer events, such as payment issues and other time-sensitive incidents. As a result, Modern Treasury's lean engineering team relies heavily on the speed of operations.

Initially, Modern Treasury wrote scripts and queries in-house to respond to incidents. These scripts lived in Notion as lists of instructions and links making it difficult for engineers to find the right scripts and resolve incidents quickly. Many of these on-call operations also required following several steps, navigating various apps, running scheduled jobs, and having expertise in complex tools. As a result, engineers were spending more and more time on support and on-call operations and lacked a consistent source of truth for these workflows.

Modern Treasury's customer base grew rapidly and managing internal processes started to become extremely time-consuming. Their current in-house solution wasn't scalable and they knew building something from scratch would be expensive, require constant maintenance, and involve significant engineering time and resources. They began looking for an external solution that would streamline and centralize their internal processes.

Modern Treasury resonated with Airplane's approach

Modern Treasury's Foundations Team found Airplane after searching for an internal tool that fit their developer-first approach to building on-call runbooks for engineering. The team quickly set up Airplane and created their first Airplane Task: list Amazon ECS services. They loved how quickly they could spin up tasks, version control, and manage operations centrally. Modern Treasury liked Airplane as a solution for several reasons:

  • Code-first approach: Airplane's approach allowed the Foundations Team to transform their existing code-based workflows, such as listing demo ECS clusters, into Airplane Tasks easily. While other internal tooling platforms helped with read-only use cases, such as performing lookups and displaying data, Airplane empowered engineers to write custom business logic to build complex workflows.
  • Ease of set up and use: Airplane was easy to set up and start using. Engineers were able to onboard quickly and create several tasks, such as listing ECS services, listing ECS clusters, and running Ruby from Bash, within minutes.
  • Automating manual operations: Automating tasks in Airplane streamlined time-consuming, manual operations. For example, Modern Treasury built a task in Airplane to restart production web servers during certain incidents. Previously, this was a manual process for on-call engineers that required following instructions in a Notion document.
  • Secure internal tools: As with many Fintech companies, security is a top priority. Modern Treasury has access to a lot of sensitive financial data. Using Airplane, Modern Treasury was able to host Airplane agents in their infrastructure and integrate their AWS resources safely.

Overall, Airplane has helped Modern Treasury save time and resources and streamline on-call support operations. Engineers no longer waste time running manual operations, searching for up-to-date scripts, and combing through docs for links and instructions. Airplane's code-first approach also made it easy to move their existing scripts and queries into the Airplane infrastructure and have a platform that serves as the source of truth for all of their internal tools.

Use cases

Modern Treasury's Foundations Team uses Airplane for the following use cases:

  • Rolling back deploys: The process of rolling back deploys at Modern Treasury contains multiple steps that require manual input from different sources. The steps include notifying the team of a rollback via Slack notifications, understanding which code was deployed in each version, determining which version to roll back to, and finally, consuming user input to execute the operation. Using Airplane, they built a rollback tool that combined all these steps into one task. The task sends a notification to Slack, displays all the data a developer needs to make a decision on which version to roll back to, and then takes their input before completing the rollback. Airplane is especially powerful in this use case because it allows them to preserve the human-in-the-loop aspect where the developer makes the decision on which version to roll back to, confirms, and executes.
  • Running AWS functions manually or on schedules: Modern Treasury runs various AWS functions for on-call incidents. For example, using Airplane scheduled tasks to perform a restart every hour during an incident. Without the automatic restart, on-call would get paged every hour to do this manually. One benefit of using Airplane for these functions is that Airplane allows the team to execute the restart function on a predefined schedule while also allowing them to toggle the function on and off manually for one-off requests.
  • Testing on-call workflows: Modern Treasury set up separate production, staging, and internal environments to test on-call operations before pushing them to production. This ensured that sensitive operations like rollbacks were tested before being rolled out more broadly to the Foundations Team to use safely.
  • Providing quick access to vendor information: The Foundations team works with a lot of raw vendor data. This includes information on payment deadlines, vendor schedules, and other payment and billing details. In order to move quickly when incidents arise, they need to be able to pull up vendor-specific and payment-specific details as quickly as possible. Using Airplane Views, they built a dashboard that allows them to surface critical information related to incidents in seconds.

Airplane has been critical in helping Modern Treasury replace manual on-call runbooks and ad-hoc scripts with secure and easy-to-use Airplane Tasks. Prianka Subrahmanyam, one of the lead engineers working on Airplane, has felt the benefits first-hand. “Using Airplane has significantly reduced the amount of time we spend on managing internal processes. On-call operations that used to be time-consuming and manual now take just seconds to run in Airplane. Airplane has been extremely helpful in helping us scale our internal infrastructure.”

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