The Hoot - Episode 32 - Humio at Lunar with Kasper Nissen

How an innovative digital bank achieves observability in AWS to better support their customers

July 17th, 2020
John Porcaro

John meets up with Kasper Nissen, Cloud Architect and Site Reliability Engineer at Lunar, Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) Ambassador, and co-founder and Community Lead at Cloud Native Nordics.

Lunar is a 100% digital mobile-based banking app available in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. As a new banking app, they’re not bound by old systems and ancient perceptions of what makes up personal finances. They believe that you know how to handle your money the best way yourself, especially if you have the right tools. So it’s their job to create tools that make managing finances easy, intuitive, and fun.

Kasper introduces the Cloud Native environment they built at Lunar, and what it took to make the environment at this innovative fintech startup reliable and secure. For example, they recently moved from being a financial app to becoming a bank, and with it came a lot of regulation.

Listen to the podcast: The Hoot - Episode 32 - Humio at Lunar with Kasper Nissen


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“The Danish Financial Services Authority requires a lot of requirements when becoming a bank. So that's changed a lot in how we do things — a lot of processes and compliance that we need to be able to handle. That's one of the places where Humio shines for us. We use Humio a lot for audit logging, which is one of the requirements for a bank. We need to understand and get insight into what our systems are doing all the time.”
Kasper Nissen

Cloud Strategist and Site Reliability Engineer at Lunar

Their platform is built entirely as a Cloud Native app hosted in AWS. They use Humio to observability into what is happening in all parts of the environment, so they log everything they can from AWS.

"Whenever somebody interacts with AWS, for example, we get their intentions from CloudTrail and we output that into Humio. We get all the audit logs from Kubernetes into Humio. When people access stuff in the database, all of that is audit logged and shipped to Humio as well. So basically all the systems that a developer can interact with is shipped directly to Humio. That’s something that's really valuable to us -- understanding what people are doing with our systems.

Kasper offers some insight into the environment he inherited when he started at Lunar. They have been on AWS since they started, but when he joined, they were still just getting started building microservices. He found that monitoring and logging weren’t providing observability, and the platform wasn’t delivering the benefits of running microservices. So he basically ripped everything apart and build out a new platform using Kubernetes and Cloud Native technologies as the foundation for everything.

He had previously used Kubana and a traditional log stack with Elasticsearch and Logstash, because that’s what he knew. He tried to build that inside of Lunar as well, but we weren't experts, so they had a lot of issues running that environment. Because of the complexity, the team wasn’t using log management, and that was a big problem.

"We needed to find something else that was more developer-friendly and also a lot easier to manage for us as platform engineers and cyber-reliability engineers. So that's where we came across Humio at that time. So I think the big selling point was the query language of Humio, and the realtime interaction that you get when using it."

He shares the experience that illustrates the power of doing log management the right way.

“One cool thing I noticed a couple of months after we adopted Humio was that all of our mobile developers were also using it, sitting with the app and watching all the logs coming in from the phone, and how they interact with the backend services. That was a really cool thing to actually see that the vision or the thing that we saw, and the query language of Humio and developer-friendliness, all of that working and people were starting to use it.”

Lunar is known for being very customer-centric. It’s one of the things that has helped them succeed in a competitive landscape. Log management is foundational to maintaining an exceptional customer experience.

“Whenever something goes wrong, we have an alert triggered, and we can see that a person using the app is having an issue, or if a transfer went wrong, or whatever it might be. Our developers use that to get the customer ID and send that directly to our Customer Support team, that will reach out to the customer and say ‘Hey, I think maybe you encountered some error. Can I help you with something?’ We try to be very upfront with the errors instead of having the customers come to us.”

Listen to the podcast to learn:

  • The optimal amount of training an entire tech team needs to get started using Humio.

  • How Lunar achieves observability by monitoring logs, metrics, and traces.

  • How the team saves time changing fields on the fly instead of having to do that by parsing.

  • Why Lunar employees gathered around a Humio dashboard the day they launched Apple Pay.

  • Why index-free logging makes it very easy to start one place, and dig deeper and deeper and deeper to find something, and then explore that even more.

  • What two ways someone who wants to learn about Cloud Native technology can pursue (one might take five years, and the other might take a weekend or two).

  • How setting up test loglines in Humio can see if things will save time for the person writing RegExes.

  • How to think about setting up repositories and views to save time and make things easier.

  • If a Raspberry Pi be used to teach university students about Kubernetes.

  • Why you should consider joining the Cloud Native Computing Foundation.

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