Vitality Global, born out of the largest private health plan in South Africa, aims to help people across the globe to live longer, healthier lives.

Enter gamified fitness on a grand scale.

Vitality Global is a global organisation active in 41 markets. It impacts the lives of about 40-million people globally.

With over 100 000 devices linked monthly, it’s clear that Vitality drives inclusive engagement in the right health behaviours and is a powerful mechanism for improving lives, reducing healthcare costs, and creating a culture of health.

The magnitude of members, complexity and the plethora of data makes creating and maintaining such a platform a feet.

This is the story of how Vitality Global, partnering with Synthesis uses Confluent Cloud to make this possible.

The challenge

The world’s largest behavioural engagement platform, Vitality uses the power of incentives, data, and behavioural science to make people healthier and enhance and protect their lives.

Like any game, players need to know the outcome instantly. Exercise needs to be tracked in real-time, ingested from 20+ devices such as from Apple Watch, and then reflect on the app with the corresponding points and rewards.

Adding scale and integration into global insurers adds to the mounting challenge of creating a distributed system across a diverse geography.

To make this mission successful and give Vitality Global full visibility, the company needed a solution that could handle its scale with security, reliability and without excessive costs.

The existing messaging system (MQ) it was using would have priced the company out of the market as it grew.

A monolithic system wouldn’t be fit for the task. The question was, what would?

Vitality Global partnered with Synthesis Software Technologies to find the way forward.

The solution

How did Synthesis and Vitality Global build a technology backbone that could handle the triple challenge of volume, velocity and a variety of markets?

It made three pivotal choices.

Firstly, Synthesis replaced Vitality Global’s traditional messaging system with Apache Kafka.

Apache Kafka was the winning technology because it’s a distributed event streaming platform (ESP). This technology can process a continuous flow of data as soon as an event, such as logging exercise, occurs. This allows members to see their points as they earn them.

The company needed a distributed scalable architecture that could handle hundreds of millions of messages a day.

Not only did Synthesis enable and implement the event streaming capability which acts as the heart of real-time service, it also designed its architecture in such a way that Vitality Global could seamlessly and quickly redeploy the entire white labelled stack for every new market.

Apache Kafka would allow for Vitality Global’s many microservices, like points and rewards systems, to collaborate at speed and scale, and give the company full visibility of its customers and their data in real time.

Secondly, Synthesis and Vitality Global chose to implement Confluent Kafka.

“We recommended Apache Kafka Reinvented for the Data Streaming Era by Confluent because it’s the best in class and it had enterprise support that was unparalleled,” says Darren Bak, head of intelligent data at Synthesis.

Confluent puts data in motion meaning it not only streams data but allows it to be processed and used as soon as it’s generated. It also ensures this real-time data is available across all applications (tracking, points and rewards systems), giving Vitality Global a holistic picture of the business.

Confluent had all the additional features that Vitality Global as an enterprise and financial services company in a regulated environment needed.

“To manage the solution in a complicated ecosystem of partners, it had to have high resiliency and surety that the system would never go down. With Confluent, we achieved this,” explains Bak.

Thirdly, Synthesis migrated the platform to Confluent Cloud which is a fully-managed Kafka service, allowing Vitality Global to stream its data on the cloud and scale for continued global expansion.

Synthesis redid Vitality’s complete container orchestration, rationalising and creating a secure environment, managed its deployments with Hashicorp and built on security management and set up its dev ops practice.

What made the solution possible was the relationship between Synthesis, Confluent and Vitality Global.

“The additional expertise, skills and capability Synthesis has contributed, and will continue to deliver through support and maintenance of our environment, has provided a huge uplift to the Vitality team. Their experience and capability have proven invaluable,” says Neil Adamson, CIO at Vitality Global.

“Through our arrangement with Synthesis, we were able to very quickly onboard very effective engineers who were able to assist us with defining the solution, rolling it out, as well as optimising the throughput of the solution while still being able to deliver the project on time,” comments Nic Mouyis Vitality Group senior development manager.


With its partnership with Synthesis and its strategic technology choices, Vitality Global is fully utilising the benefits of data in motion. Its members are receiving their points and rewards, checked through fraud detection, within minutes.

“Vitality has tremendous requirements. It uses hyper personalisation. It has huge data volume ingestion and processing, and it has incredibly aggressive global time to market goals.

Its successful move to data streaming, specifically fully managed services has increasingly compounded its benefits, time to market, reducing its total cost of ownership (TCO) and allowing them to have broader access to the data in motion ecosystem,” explains Jack Bingham, client director at Confluent.

* Reduced cost – With Confluent Cloud, there was an immediate saving of more than 50%. Vitality Global still expected an increase in costs as member numbers rose, but the costs stayed consistent, reducing Vitality’s TCO.

* Device speed and efficiency – With the old system, there was downtime which meant data, like step counts, had to be resent from device manufacturers. Now, Vitality Global never needs to resend data as it is stored on Kafka and messages are not erased as they are with traditional MQ systems. Members receive their points and rewards faster because of the real-time capabilities and scalable storage of Kafka. Not only is this data processed but it is put through fraud detection so members can be reassured that they receive all their well-deserved points. This all happens within minutes.

* Admin – “By hosting Confluent Kafka on Confluent Cloud, Vitality developers were freed up as Confluent’s SLA ensured constant uptime, reducing operational overhead,” explains Lew.

* Speed and time to market – Data in motion, enabled by Synthesis, has allowed Vitality to rapidly expand into new markets with new products, new services while being able to capture and proactively use billions of events from IoT (Internet of Things) devices on a daily basis.

* Uptime – The reliability and uptime delivered means that the app is always available to its members. Since using Confluent Kafka, there has been zero downtime.

* Scale, stability and reliability – With 11-billion events and an eye on further clients, most systems would start to slow down. However, with Kafka and its migration to Confluent Cloud, this is no longer a concern as the system scales with messages and members. This gives members stability and reliability. It also allows Vitality Global to quickly onboard its tenants, like Vitality UK.

* Security – Data sharing with markets is now possible and secure with the move to Confluent Cloud.

* Upskilling – “As the event streaming capability was a new technology being introduced into my team, my existing developers had very little practical exposure to the product. Through our arrangement with Synthesis, we were able to very quickly onboard very effective engineers who were able to assist us with defining the solution, rolling it out, as well as optimising the throughput of the solution while still being able to deliver the project on time,” Says Mouyis.

* Real time – Vitality Global not only gives members fast access to their points but they can understand what is happening with its members right now across the globe.