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FinOps Article Roundup: Earth Day Edition

Joe Stanganelli Managing Editor, TechBeacon
Ariel photograph of high rise building pushing through clouds

Happy post-Earth Day (and, still as of press time, Earth month)!

Really, if the spirit of Earth Day has truly taken hold, every day is Earth Day. People doing good things for the environment still makes a difference—and so does people doing bad things for the environment.

The world of enterprise IT is no exception. In my pre-Earth Day article ("Part One," if you will), I rounded up three TechBeacon articles discussing environmental issues in enterprise IT. One of them in particular struck a chord with me.

In his article "How to Do DevOps Without Increasing Your Carbon Footprint," one of the main things author Lars Rossen advocates for is organizations reducing their public-cloud energy consumption.

"When you migrate workloads to the public cloud, you have access to unlimited compute resources—and your server usage tends to grow, increasing your energy consumption and carbon footprint," writes Rossen. "Because the cloud operates on a per unit-consumed basis and there is still a bill to pay, that should be a wakeup call for your teams to rethink how often they run the pipeline."

There are yet other ways, however, to reduce cloud consumption—whether your goal is to save the planet or simply to lower your bills. The practice of optimizing cloud costs is called FinOps (short for "financial operations"). We've run a number of FinOps-related articles at TechBeacon recently—and, in my personal editorial opinion, they've been among the very best articles we've run in the past several months.

As such, I'd like to put TechBeacon's best foot forward and draw your attention to our three most recent FinOps pieces. And if you happen to learn something that leads to your company contributing to less pollution and resource waste, so much the better.

6 Common Financial Mistakes in Cloud-Migration Planning

Cloud migration is a holistic process, and that process necessarily includes FinOps. But FinOps is all too often overlooked in the planning stages. And if it is overlooked, the result can be a stalled or even failed cloud migration. So goes the argument made by Willy Sennott, executive vice president of FinOps at Vega Cloud, in this article.

"It would be nice if cloud migration were as simple as deciding what to move into the cloud, then moving it," writes Sennott. "But it's not."

Accordingly, Sennott points out several FinOps concerns that are commonly missed in cloud-migration planning—along with tips on how not to miss them. These include, among other things, factoring for hidden costs, looking at cloud migrations as a business process, and understanding that there are going to be some miscalculations.

Why Are Companies Still Struggling with Cloud Costs?

In this think piece on ballooning cloud costs, CloudZero CTO Erik Peterson likens the state of cloud to the state of security more than 20 years ago. In 2002, Microsoft founder Bill Gates called upon his company to implement "Trustworthy Computing"—sacrificing release dates and agility for security. This meant software engineers taking responsibility for application security instead of foisting it all upon the security teams.

Today, Peterson advocates for cloud's Trustworthy Computing moment, arguing that companies—via their engineering teams—need to become disciplined in their cloud-resource management once and for all. Peterson acknowledges that there are always discounts for finance teams to find and negotiate here and there—but that the state of FinOps has reached its limit on what he calls "better buying."

"Because cloud cost is a financial topic, it’s long fallen on financial teams to control it. But cost issues don’t stem from finance teams; CFOs don’t provision cloud infrastructure," writes Peterson. "Cost issues stem from—you guessed it—engineers."

This isn't a flog-the-peasants scenario, however. Rather, Peterson urges companies to empower their engineers with accurate and relevant cloud-cost info in a timely manner—and then stepping back and letting the engineers get to work.

Why and How to Start Optimizing Cloud Costs Now

Still, there remains a place in FinOps for better buying. It may not do much for the planet by way of carbon-footprint reduction (indeed, discounted services may lead to increased resource usage), but the case can be made that getting decision makers to think about spending less in the cloud is the first step toward better and more holistic FinOps solutions.

In this article, Sennott (yes, the same writer) points out that these more holistic FinOps solutions may take a lot of time and effort to implement—and yet even more time to identify opportunities to save on cloud costs. The result may be lots of wasted spending while waiting for the savings to roll in.

Sennott argues that this may have a rippling effect.

"[I]f the company has to navigate through economically challenging times—such as the downturn we're currently experiencing—while paying bloated cloud bills, executives may have to look elsewhere to save money," writes Sennott. "They might lay off staff, for example, because doing so is a way to cut spending immediately—while they believe that cutting spending in the cloud will take too long to yield meaningful savings."

The subtext is that, if a few quick wins can't be realized immediately in the cloud-savings context, decision-makers may just write the whole thing off as a bad job—and continue to waste cloud resources.

With these premises in mind, Sennott lays out some relatively easy things that companies can start doing immediately to optimize their cloud costs—even beyond seeking and negotiating for discounts. These include changing how new workloads are deployed and using automation tools from their cloud providers.

It may not be much—but when it comes to environmental responsibility, you've got to start somewhere.

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