Scaling Beyond Cloud Control to Innovation: Thought Leadership at FinOps X

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When enterprises like Fidelity, Pearson, HCA, Intuit, Unisys, JP Morgan, and others of similar size and influence all send their best and brightest to a brand-new conference on a new discipline—FinOps—it’s a sign that something important is happening. I was fortunate enough to attend and learn with and from them and from others whose sessions were equally eye-opening. If your organization is using cloud at an enterprise scale, read on for an overview of FinOps, three key use cases, and the role the FinOps Foundation is playing in nurturing and growing the FinOps community.

Why Are Leading Enterprises Interested In FinOps?

It’s no secret that cloud is considered a key ingredient for organizational success through digital transformation. Cloud adoption is proof, as noted by a leading industry analyst group, whose research indicates that by 2025 cloud-native platforms will carry more than 95 percent of new digital workloads, an increase from only 30 percent in 2021. Securing cloud’s increasing value for agility during this new age of adoption is, however, dependent on meeting financial management needs. 

As cloud adoption has increased, so has cloud sprawl, and the challenges of understanding whether there’s waste in cloud spending. Funding digital transformation in increasingly challenging economic conditions will only exacerbate the need to rationalize cloud use and spending.

That’s where FinOps comes in. To quote the FinOps Foundation, “FinOps is an evolving cloud financial management discipline and cultural practice that enables organizations to get maximum business value by helping engineering, finance, technology, and business teams to collaborate on data-driven spending decisions.” By growing a FinOps discipline and culture, cloud savings can be significant—and can be redeployed to fund innovation.

Broader Use Cases Than Rationalizing Cloud Costs

FinOps X Conference 2022, Image Courtesy of the FinOps Foundation

As I learned at FinOps X, FinOps is about more than just cost control. I sat in on sessions where presenters discussed real-world use cases like:

  • Identifying sprawling yet relevant data in the cloud to provision data lakes and serve advanced analytics use cases
  • Complementing IT Asset Management (ITAM), governance, and compliance efforts by surfacing instances of rogue and shadow cloud
  • Supporting ESG and sustainability initiatives by providing more transparency and audibility for cloud use and the related carbon footprint

In the span of two all-too-short days, it was clear that every enterprise with any current or planned large investment in cloud will benefit by learning more about FinOps, and getting involved with the Foundation.

5 Recommended Next Steps For Your FinOps Journey

Interest in FinOps is growing as rapidly as cloud platform adoption, for good reason. The ease of access to and scalability of major cloud platforms can enable anyone within an organization to pay for cloud platform use with a credit card and potentially incur unexpected costs and ungoverned risk. For large enterprises especially, cloud platform use may be so strategically important, so widely dispersed, and billing so decentralized, that understanding and rationalizing cloud spending requires new approaches. In these scenarios, a dedicated FinOps team is no longer an option. 

If you’re just getting up to speed on FinOps, the first three next steps will help.

  1. Look to the shared knowledge and community you’ll find on the FinOps Foundation website. Their primary research on the state of FinOps in 2022 is particularly interesting. 
  2. Read up on what the major cloud platform providers have been sharing on FinOps. For example, these links for AWS, Microsoft Azure, and GCP may be useful background.
  3. Set time to explore potential use cases with your finance leaders, your Cloud Center of Excellence teams, your data management leadership, and your analytics teams.

Are you already on a FinOps journey? These last two steps will help you accelerate.

  1. Connect your FinOps team to a wider, experienced, like-minded community. The FinOps Foundation seems to be doing a fine job of cultivating and curating “by practitioners, for practitioners” content and meetups.
  2. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize based on stages of maturity. In every conference session I attended, speakers noted that taking agile-like approaches to prioritization was key to early wins and value.

Like digital transformation, FinOps requires collaboration, executive sponsorship, and clear goals and KPIs. And like digital transformation, FinOps has the potential to support disruptive growth. Please let me know where you are on your journey, and I hope your success inspires others, as the practitioner speakers at FinOps X have inspired me.

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