Benefício Fácil manages a million monthly employee benefits with Google Cloud Platform

Third-party benefits management company Benefício Fácil needed a reliable and simple method for clients to order and receive employee perks like transportation passes. The company used Google Cloud Platform to build a fast and efficient management and distribution platform.

Processing one million benefits every month

Although Brazilian companies commonly supply employees with benefits like bus and subway passes or restaurant vouchers, they often outsource management and distribution to companies like Benefício Fácil.

“We handle passes from hundreds of different vendors and process up to a million benefits a month, so for us, speed and performance are vital,” says Rodrigo Monzoni, managing director at Benefício Fácil.

However, a period of rapid growth in 2011 threatened to blunt that advantage. The company had added a new and exclusive system feature that let clients split monthly benefit orders into weekly ones, which increased data processing 4 times all at once. “It was very efficient and easier for the clients to manage orders and finances, but adding this feature also multiplied our processing burden exponentially,” Monzoni says.

At the time, the company ran its systems on Amazon Web Services, using in-house personnel to manage and maintain the platform. However, as system performance slowed, Monzoni and his team started looking for alternatives. “We needed scalability and performance, and we did not want to spend time managing infrastructure,” Monzoni says.

Autoscaling to meet demand

Monzoni heard about Google App Engine, which was then a beta product. “We figured that if it was Google it should be good, and once we took a look at it, we were further convinced,” he says. After some experimentation, the company switched to Google Cloud Platform, using App Engine to process orders from a client-facing app and storing data on Google Cloud Storage.

The move immediately paid off, as the system easily absorbed the increased processing burden, which had jumped from about 100,000 benefits processed monthly to 400,000, back in 2011.

App Engine also automatically scaled to meet traffic spikes caused by voucher ordering or data loading, which can fluctuate from 10 queries per second to 100 queries per second. As a result, Benefício Fácil uses only the computing resources it needs. “App Engine automatically scales to meet demand, which saves us money,” says Ronoaldo Pereira, director of IT at the company. “We’d be wasting 70 to 80 percent of [in-house] computing resources just to handle spikes in traffic.”

Moreover, Pereira’s team could now jettison time-consuming maintenance tasks, allowing them to focus on innovation. “We used to have one person for managing infrastructure, and because App Engine automates those tasks, we were able to use him instead to improve the quality of our product,” he says.

GCP: ‘A strategic advantage’

Not only did Cloud Platform enable scaling on demand and allow the IT department to focus on creative work rather than maintaining the infrastructure, it helped the company stay ahead of its competition. “Google Cloud Platform was a big win in terms of productivity,” says Pereira. “We were able to move from a monthly to a weekly development schedule, since our developers can do much more with the time they have.”

Pereira estimates that their accelerated development cycle has allowed the team to add several new features well ahead of the competition, such as a streamlined order-placement process for customers. “We view Google Cloud Platform as a strategic advantage, and at the end of the day, this is what matters,” Monzoni says.