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FinOps is a growing discipline that has become increasingly more important for organizations. One of the primary goals of FinOps is to optimize cloud costs and improve operational performance and business value.

This FinOps 101 Lightning Course is a guide to help you get started with cloud cost management.

We’re excited to share our FinOps 101 lightning course with you – your gateway to maximizing efficiency and value in cloud computing. Whether you’re in ITAM, finance, operations, engineering, or another department, this course is tailored to empower you with the knowledge and skills needed to start navigating the world of FinOps.

Topics covered in the FinOps 101 course:

Understanding FinOps: What is FinOps? Explore the core principles of FinOps and grasp the foundations that make FinOps a game-changer in today’s digital landscape.

Why FinOps Matters: Learn how FinOps ensures cost efficiency, promotes transparency, and fosters collaboration across teams, creating a synergy between financial objectives and operational excellence.

The FinOps Cycle: Learn how the FinOps cycle (Inform, Optimize, Operate) transforms cloud cost management into a dynamic and responsive process.

Challenges and Solutions: Address the common challenges organizations face when implementing FinOps and discover effective solutions.

The Future of FinOps: Peek into the crystal ball and explore the evolving landscape of FinOps – including some big developments on the horizon.

Convergence of FinOps and ITAM: Witness the synergy between FinOps and IT Asset Management (ITAM). Understand how the convergence of these disciplines creates a powerful framework for holistic financial control and governance.

Access the FinOps 101 Lightning Course slides

For any specific questions, feel free to reach out to us at [email protected].

Got questions about FinOps?

What is FinOps?

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FinOps Explained

FinOps, a portmanteau of “Finance” and “(Dev)Ops,” is a cutting-edge approach and cultural practice focused on cloud financial management, aiming to maximize business value by aligning engineering, IT, finance, and business teams.

The primary goal of FinOps is to optimize the costs associated with running workloads in the cloud, ensuring that organizations can maximize the value they get from their cloud investments while maintaining financial control.

That said, FinOps is not only about cost savings or finding wastage in the cloud. It also provides visibility for all and seeks to ensure accountability for cloud resources. Teams are encouraged to take ownership of the resources they use and understand the financial implication of the decisions they make. FinOps gives the needed insight into spending patterns, cost drivers, and other metrics that support data-driven decisions.

FinOps also includes governance practices to establish policies and guidelines for cloud resource usage.

Central to FinOps is the collaboration between cross-functional teams, promoting said visibility, best practices, and accountability to the variable spending model of cloud computing. Everyone in the organization, from engineers to finance leaders, takes ownership of their cloud costs.

FinOps & the Iron Triangle

FinOps guides decision-making based on the business value of cloud services. It emphasizes making informed trade-offs between cost, performance, and time to market, ensuring that cloud investments drive optimal value for the organization. This is the Iron Triangle of FinOps.

The three components of the FinOps Iron Triangle are cost, quality, and speed. When organizations focus on one of these components, they must make sacrifices to the others. For example, many organizations want to increase their savings in the cloud, this means they may have to start limiting resources or reducing their flexibility. Or, if you want to be more agile and innovative, you may need to increase your risk or costs to focus on achieving that agility.

Therefore, it’s essential for your organization to decide what is most important and how you are going to balance cost, quality, and speed. FinOps brings teams together so that they can choose which trade-offs make sense and where they need to place their focus.

FinOps Crawl, Walk, Run Phases

The Crawl, Walk, Run phases of FinOps are a common way that organizations can measure where they are at in FinOps as a whole, and within certain, individual aspects of FinOps. Each phase symbolizes a level of maturity and capability, with the understanding that an organization progresses through these stages gradually.

The focus of the Crawl phase is on getting started and establishing a basic foundation – this is the initial stage where the organization is learning and experimenting with new processes or technologies. The Walk phase represents a more mature and stable state – the organization has gained some experience, and there is a greater understanding of the processes or systems involved. And finally, the Run phase signifies a high level of maturity and optimization. At this point, the organization is proficient and operates at an advanced level of capability and can handle complex challenges, adapt to changes, and continuously improve.

Organizations might be in different phases for different aspects of FinOps. For example, a company might be in the Crawl phase for cost allocation and tagging, but it could also be in the Run phase for cost avoidance. It’s okay to be in different phases within different areas of FinOps and different areas of the business. FinOps is modular, it’s meant to accommodate and help organizations work through all challenges.

Learn more about our Cloud Cost Management (FinOps) Services.

Why is FinOps important?

FinOps enables organizations to strike a balance between innovation, agility, and cost efficiency in the cloud. It ensures that cloud resources are utilized effectively, fostering financial responsibility and supporting the overall success of the business. Three specific reasons why FinOps is important to an organization are it enables enhanced collaboration and decision-making, allows for real-time financial transparency and optimization, and fosters a cultural shift toward cost accountability.

 

Enhanced Collaboration and Decision-Making

  • FinOps fosters a culture where cross-functional teams including engineering, finance, and business personnel collaborate on data-driven spending decisions. This collaboration is pivotal as it aligns financial accountability with the variable cost model of cloud usage, ensuring that every dollar spent is driving business value.

Real-time Financial Transparency and Optimization

  • Embracing FinOps introduces a real-time, transparent approach to cloud financial management. It empowers teams with visibility, allocation, benchmarking, budgeting, and forecasting tools, facilitating intelligent decisions that optimize cloud spend. This in turn, makes the cost, quality, and speed trade-offs more informed, aligning cloud expenditures with organizational objectives and market dynamics.

Cultural Shift Toward Cost Accountability

  • Implementing FinOps induces a cultural shift within the organization where individuals and teams take ownership of their cloud usage and costs. This cultural change is facilitated through continuous education and communication about the importance of FinOps, thereby building a common focus on cost efficiency across traditionally siloed teams. The resultant cost accountability not only curtails wasteful spending but also instills a cost-optimization mindset that permeates through all levels of the organization.

Understanding the FinOps Cycle

What is the FinOps Cycle?

The FinOps cycle represents an iterative process that organizations follow to manage and optimize their cloud costs effectively. It involves continuous monitoring, analysis, and adjustment of financial strategies related to cloud usage. The three stages of the FinOps Cycle are Inform, Optimize, and Operate.

The FinOps cycle is not a linear process but an ongoing loop of activities. Organizations continuously move through these phases, adjusting based on evolving business requirements, changes in technology, and insights gained from data analysis. The goal is to establish a culture of financial responsibility, optimize cloud costs, and align cloud spending with the organization’s strategic objectives.

 

The FinOps Cycle Inform Stage

  • Visibility and Allocation: The initial step in the FinOps journey revolves around gaining a clear understanding of cloud usage and costs. This phase promotes visibility into cloud expenditure and accurate allocation of costs based on tags, accounts, or business mappings, which is crucial for intelligent decision-making.
  • Budgeting, Forecasting, and Benchmarking: Establishing budgets and forecasting spend is vital to ensure there are no financial surprises. This phase lays the groundwork for efficient financial planning. By benchmarking against teams or cohorts, organizations can measure performance and set the necessary metrics to foster a high-performing team.

 

The FinOps Cycle Optimize Stage

  • Cost Efficiency: Once a clear view of cloud expenditure is established, this phase focuses on optimizing cloud resources to ensure cost-efficiency. This includes identifying and eliminating wasteful resource usage and making advanced reservation plans to utilize discounts offered by cloud providers.
  • Rightsizing and Automation: Rightsizing involves adjusting resources to meet actual needs, while automation can help in turning off unnecessary resources, thus driving further cost savings.

 

The FinOps Cycle Operate Stage

  • Continuous Evaluation: In this phase, organizations continuously assess their business objectives and the metrics related to cloud costs to ensure alignment with organizational goals.
  • Culture of FinOps: Building a culture of FinOps within the organization is essential for long-term success. This involves establishing a Cloud Cost Center of Excellence that brings together business, financial, and operational stakeholders to define appropriate governance policies and models​.

Challenges & Solutions of Implementing FinOps

While FinOps is essential to organizations gaining control of their cloud resources, it doesn’t come without its challenges. The three main challenges we see in implementing or maturing FinOps are cloud cost management, organizational conflicts, and workflow integration.

 

Challenges of Implementing and/or Maturing FinOps

Cloud Cost Management:

  • Understanding and controlling cloud costs can be challenging due to the pay-as-you-go nature of cloud services.
  • Accurate forecasting can be difficult to gather but is essential to avoid cloud waste and ensure cost-effectiveness.
  • Dealing with shared cloud resource costs requires a methodical approach to allocation and amortization.

Organizational Conflicts:

  • Working in silos can hinder cross-functional collaboration essential for effective FinOps.
  • Establishing a common language and metrics across Finance, Operations, and Engineering teams is critical for FinOps success.
  • There might be resistance from different departments as FinOps implementation requires a shift in organizational culture and processes.
  • Securing executive support can be difficult due to the nuanced and technical nature of cloud financial management.

Workflow Integration:

  • Adhering to existing Procurement and Software Asset Management guidelines while adopting new FinOps workflows can be challenging.
  • Integration of signoffs and transparency in procurement processes is essential to align FinOps with organizational guidelines.

 

Solutions

Iterative Adoption and Demonstrating Quick Wins:

  • Adopt a phased approach to implementing FinOps, starting with a basic system and gradually maturing over time.
  • Target early wins by identifying low-hanging fruit for cost optimization and showcasing these wins to build momentum.
  • Tailoring the FinOps model to fit the organization’s unique structure and objectives, while creating a conducive environment for cross-functional interaction.

Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE):

  • Establishing a CCoE to foster collaboration and share best practices can help overcome many FinOps challenges.
  • A CCoE serves as a hub for cloud financial management expertise, promoting continuous education and training on cloud cost management.
  • Consider engaging external FinOps experts to kick-start or accelerate the FinOps initiative, bringing in a fresh perspective and expertise.

Cloud Management Platforms (CMP):

  • Utilizing a CMP can provide the necessary tools to monitor, optimize and allocate cloud resources efficiently.
  • CMPs can aid in providing visibility into cloud usage and costs, thus enabling better decision-making​.

Engineering Engagement:

  • Encouraging engineers to take ownership of cloud costs and engage in FinOps practices can lead to better cost management and cloud resource optimization.
  • Sharing the responsibility of cloud cost management between Finance, Operations, and Engineering teams can help in successfully implementing FinOps.

The Future of FinOps

Where is FinOps going?

While FinOps has only officially been around for roughly 5 years, it has quickly established itself as the standard for cloud cost engineering, cloud cost focus, cloud cost culture change, and more.

The FinOps Foundation is the governing body for FinOps and is responsible for most of the major upcoming changes that we’re seeing. These changes are things that should be considered as organizations move through their FinOps journeys and progress toward the Run phase of FinOps maturity.

 

FinOps Open Cost and Usage Specification (FOCUS):

  • The FinOps Open Cost & Usage Specification (FOCUS) is a project that aims to empower individuals managing cloud value. Its goal is to develop and maintain an open standard for cloud cost, usage, and billing data, which is expected to be instrumental in evolving FinOps practices by establishing a technical specification for cloud cost management.

Automation and Artificial Intelligence (A.I.):

  • Future FinOps models are predicted to heavily leverage A.I. to automate cost optimization, streamline financial processes, and provide real-time insights for better decision-making. The use of A.I. will enhance operational efficiency and help businesses to adapt to diverse pricing models in cloud computing.

Community and Standardization Efforts:

  • The FinOps Foundation and the broader community are working towards building and maintaining standards like FOCUS, which will help in streamlining cloud financial management processes. These community-driven initiatives will play a significant role in shaping the future of FinOps and cloud cost engineering, making the domain more standardized and user-friendly.

FinOps & ITAM Together

The Convergence of FinOps & IT Asset Management (ITAM)

There are many synergies between FinOps and ITAM, but currently, in most organizations, the two organizations work within their own siloed environments. We want to help break down those siloes.

FinOps and ITAM remarkably cover each other’s blind spots very well. They are extremely complimentary disciplines. On top of that, often the decisions made by the FinOps team will impact the ITAM team and vice versa. Having FinOps and ITAM work together is mutually beneficial to each and brings great value to the organization as a whole.

Here are a few ways (and reasons why) organizations can bridge the gap and bring together FinOps and ITAM.

Hybrid Infrastructure Management:

  • The combination of FinOps and ITAM/SAM practices signifies a strategic shift towards a more cohesive, transparent, and efficient management of IT assets and cloud finances.
  • With the adoption of hybrid infrastructure models, the collaboration between FinOps and ITAM/SAM becomes even more critical. By operating hybrid ITAM and FinOps at scale, organizations can automate best practices for managing hybrid, multi-cloud environments without overburdening their teams, ensuring continued value through extensible policies and collaborative strategies.

Data Sharing and Understanding Priorities:

  • A close relationship between ITAM and FinOps, characterized by regular and comprehensive data sharing, is integral for the growth and development of businesses utilizing software and cloud services. This collaboration ensures the best use of existing assets, enabling cost-effective cloud spending and reducing financial waste.

Unified Language and Strategic Alignment:

  • FinOps professionals and ITAM leaders are converging to define a common language, build enablement strategies, and develop communication programs. This collaborative effort is aimed at elevating business objectives, aligning financial accountability with operational efficiency in cloud environments, and driving a more unified approach towards managing IT assets and cloud finances.

Cost Optimization and Efficiency:

  • The convergence of ITAM disciplines with FinOps can lead to optimized cost management, especially in hybrid and multi-cloud environments. SAM/ITAM practices aim at optimizing the cost, risk, and operational efficiency of IT assets throughout their lifecycle, which intersects significantly with FinOps objectives of cloud cost management and optimization.

 

Thank you for participating in this FinOps 101 Lightning Course, we hope you found the content to be helpful! If you have any questions regarding anything in the course, please contact us. You can schedule time to meet with Jason or another one of our FinOps experts or you can reach out to us at [email protected].

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