How 5 companies got their developers to care about cloud costs

Cloud & Services Home IT Asset Management

by | September 2, 2021


Software developers don’t typically have to worry about the costs of running their services, but as cloud costs continue to rise, more and more will have to learn to embrace cloud cost optimization. That means adopting finops.
Previously the purview of dedicated centers of excellence, or even exclusively the procurement and finance teams, cloud cost management is rapidly becoming a required skill for anyone who consumes cloud resources on a day-by-day basis—and that includes software developers.
The emerging approach for cloud-first organizations is to have a central team that can manage broad consumption issues, like using the cheapest possible infrastructure for the job and negotiating committed-use discounts with vendors, while responsibility for the cost of individual services is pushed out to engineering teams that are incentivized to run as cost-effectively as possible, without sacrificing business value.
“You need that central expertise but also engineers to understand what they are spending in the cloud. … You want them to feel empowered to do something about their spending and how it stacks up to the value they are driving,” said Eugene Khvostov, vice president of product and engineering at cost optimization specialist Apptio. “Every organization is different and has different maturity levels and styles, but some of the more successful cases we have seen push that information to the edge and get engineers involved in that challenge, rather than issuing a mandate from on high.”
This can be a difficult shift to make, however, especially for organizations accustomed to lengthy procurement cycles and those that look to insulate their software developers from worrying about the total cost of their own services in a push for greater digital momentum. But now, as cloud costs continue to rise in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the tide might just be turning.
Optimizing costs, not just code: Introducing finops
In their 2020 O’Reilly book, Cloud FinOps, J.R. Storment and Mike Fuller explain that in the old world of procuring enterprise hardware, engineers and operations teams would have to think about the cost of infrastructure well in advance. “Now, in the cloud, they can throw company dollars at the problem whenever extra capacity is required,” they wrote.
Although this has allowed for faster, more-effective development cycles, it also introduced a new set of considerations around the cost and business impact of those infrastructure choices. “At first, this feels foreign and at odds with the primary focus of shipping features. Then they quickly realize that cost is just another efficiency metric they can tune to positively impact the business,” they wrote.

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