At the expense of adding to the widespread overuse of these buzzwords, cloud advertises its ability to provide on-demand access to vast resources, giving you immediate flexibility, scalability and agility with the associated freedom to innovate and disrupt. The reality is not quite as simple as that sounds because organisations and applications must adapt to be able to harness that potential but it is certainly true that that power is accessible to more organisations than ever before. 

It is important to consider how these cloud characteristics will affect the ability to budget, forecast and manage the very real possibility of overspend. How can costs be attributed to particular projects, departments or applications? What validation can be done to benchmark costs to ensure efficient, cost-effective use of resources? With cloud comes greater freedom for engineers and indeed the code they write can make procurement decisions on what cloud resources may be purchased and in what quantity. How can spend controls be introduced that allow the freedom to innovate without losing the ability to provide governance and assurance? How can technical and financial teams communicate despite their very different expertise and priorities?

With traditional technology investments infrastructure was purchased with 3-5 year timeframes in mind, not the far shorter term on-demand on/off switch that cloud provides. With these longer-term considerations, organisations could build and use more static governance processes. These had time to enforce technical design controls, validate them in the context of cost and organisational benefit and refine where necessary to strike the balance that met TCO and ROI objectives. These would be met in sequences of reviews with pre-defined checks and balances to provide the required assurances to gain sign-off from relevant stakeholders. These processes may have worked for the environment in which they were used but this does not mean they are appropriate for the more dynamic cloud world. Apply controls of a similar nature in the cloud and you cripple its ability to deliver the value that took you to the cloud. If you ignore them entirely you fly blind and accept all the risk that brings. In this context ignorance certainly is not bliss and increasingly the choice to evolve these governance processes is disappearing as a choice because competitors who do are disrupting the market so significantly that it becomes impossible to remain competitive. You need only look to Netflix and Uber as very striking examples of this.

An effective cloud cost management and optimisation approach must strive to be a continuous, dynamic process so that it works with, not against, the nature of cloud. In our white paper on cloud cost management and optimisation we explore what this means and how organisations can develop the tools and processes that support sustainable cloud adoption. It explores a multi-layered approach that provides mechanisms for cost transparency, cutting, avoidance, optimisation and containment. It discusses how processes can evolve from being reactive, ad-hoc, manual and qualitative to being proactive, standardised, automated and quantitative.

As a financial services organisation specialising in cloud cost management and optimisation we provide tools to help financial teams perform their role and add value to the technical teams with whom they must collaborate. We provide our expertise in removing the procurement barriers to cloud (”Financial Adaptor”), providing clear insight into cloud spend trends and anomalies (“Clarity & Transparency”) and using a range of techniques to ensure cloud spend remains optimal (“People Powered FinOps”). We use the model in the above white paper to help demonstrate what is possible and what organisations have found useful as the significance of their cloud usage grows. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss this further with you but hope that it at least provides some useful insights and food for thought.