You should understand the basics of how cloud computing works, know the key services on your cloud providers, including their common use cases, and have a basic understanding of billing and pricing models. Being able to describe the basic value proposition of running in the cloud and understand the core concept of using a pay-as-you-go consumption model are also necessary.

You’ll also need to have a base level of knowledge of at least one of the three main public cloud providers (AWS, Azure, Google Cloud). For AWS, we recommend AWS Business Professional training or, even better, the AWS Cloud Practitioner certification. For Google, check out the Google Cloud Platform Fundamentals course. For Azure, try the Azure Fundamentals learning path. Each can usually be completed in a full day workshop.

According to responses from the State of FinOps survey, we collected underlying reasons engineers do not always take action on cost saving opportunities. Following each reason are ways to overcome those concerns and the overall challenge.

  • Identifying ownership and accountability
  • Generating and sharing timely information
  • Focusing on business-driven priorities
  • Implementing Solutions to Strengthen FinOps

Every business has a different level of cloud adoption, utilization, and cost to manage. The challenge of empowering more cost optimization will also differ by the practitioner’s role and skillset. The following stories, whether named or anonymized, add real FinOps practitioner details and insights on how to address the challenge.

Ownership and Accountability are fundamental to effective cost avoidance. For engineers to take action in pursuit of cost avoidance, they must have a sense of ownership and responsibility for the cloud resources they use and be accountable for the costs that result.

So engineers are accountable for their cloud usage and costs, but who, or what, are they accountable to?

Based on the State of FinOps survey data, we have identified three dimensions of accountability, each relating to one of the actions we want engineers to take:

Self-accountability, or ‘professional pride’. Once engineers can see what the costs are and how they are important to the organisation, most of them will want to create cost-efficient solutions

Financial accountability. As spenders of the organisation’s money, engineers who own cloud resources are accountable to Finance through the normal financial management process

Business Accountability. As employees of the organisation, engineers are accountable to the business for their performance and how it contributes to the organisation’s goals

Governance is an often required step in managing both the drive to push accountability specifically, and oversight of cloud cost management programs in general. There are three main forms of governance change that practitioners use to address the Engineering Action challenge. These support, and may sometimes blend into, the cultural changes described above.

Guidelines – describe best practice, corporate expectations, the standard (or approved) way of doing things.

Policies – are mandatory and dictate the standard way things must, or must not, be done with consequences for non-adherence.

Automated Processes – take the actions out of the engineers’ hands and guarantee they are standardized and consistent.

A combination of some or the use of all three of these elements may be applied to any engineering action challenge. Individual FinOps teams must figure out which blend of these elements will work best in their company.

2 thoughts on “Managing Shared Cloud Costs

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