The Long List: 15 Essential FinOps Best Practices to Know
Solutions Review’s Executive Editor Tim King offers the “long list” of essential FinOps best practices to help your enterprise remain on-trend.
FinOps, short for Financial Operations, is a set of practices and methodologies that brings together the worlds of technology and finance to manage cloud costs effectively. Think of it like applying engineering principles to the financial aspect of cloud computing. FinOps encourages you to approach cloud costs with the same engineering mindset.
FinOps employs data-driven insights to understand how your applications and services are utilizing cloud resources. In FinOps, you “tag” or “label” cloud resources with metadata that provides context about their purpose, project, or team. This acts like annotations for your cloud infrastructure, making it easier to track who’s using what and for what purpose in terms of costs.
Remember that the FinOps best practices you adopt should be tailored to your organization’s specific goals, cloud usage patterns, and business requirements. Experts recommend regularly reassessing and adapting your FinOps strategies as your cloud environment evolves. However, and with all that in mind, we thought it’d be worthwhile to compile the “long list” of FinOps best practices to consider:
FinOps Best Practices
Collaboration and Alignment
Collaboration and alignment are the cornerstones of an organization’s ability to effectively manage cloud costs and optimize cloud operations. It’s about creating an environment where cross-functional cooperation leads to shared objectives and transparent communication, ensuring that cloud-related decisions not only meet technical requirements but also align with the company’s financial goals.
By establishing a culture of data-driven decision-making, regular reviews, and educational initiatives, you empower teams to take ownership and accountability for their roles in cost management.
Tagging & Labeling
Tagging and labeling serve as powerful organizational tools that facilitate precise financial management of cloud resources. By strategically implementing a robust tagging and labeling system, you’re effectively annotating your cloud infrastructure, allowing you to trace costs back to specific projects, departments, or teams.
This fine-grained visibility empowers your organization to allocate expenses accurately, identify areas of potential overspending or underutilization, and ultimately make informed decisions that harmonize technological innovation with financial prudence.
Cost Visibility & Transparency
Cost visibility and transparency hold immense significance for underpinning effective cloud cost management. Imagine them as a powerful lens that grants unparalleled insight into your cloud ecosystem’s financial landscape. By embracing these principles, you’re equipped with the capability to illuminate the intricacies of your organization’s cloud spending, tracking costs with accuracy and granularity.
This knowledge empowers you to make informed decisions, align technology initiatives with budgetary constraints, and foster a culture of financial responsibility across your technical teams.
Budgeting & Forecasting
Budgeting and forecasting, as integral components of the FinOps framework, hold a crucial role for a CTO, acting as a compass that navigates the organization’s cloud expenditure with precision and foresight. Picture them as dynamic blueprints that guide your cloud-related decisions, seamlessly merging technological aspirations with fiscal realities.
With this strategic alignment of technology ambitions and financial constraints, you’re positioned to make proactive adjustments, seize cost-saving opportunities, and make well-informed choices that harmonize innovation with fiscal responsibility.
Reserved Instances & Savings Plans
RIs enable you to commit to a specific instance configuration for a defined period, securing substantial cost savings compared to on-demand pricing. Savings Plans, on the other hand, offer more flexibility by granting a discount on usage across a variety of instance types, providing greater adaptability as your workloads evolve.
Both mechanisms essentially act as forward-looking investments, aligning your cloud expenses with your organization’s anticipated usage. This strategic approach ensures that your cloud resources are allocated intelligently, striking a balance between innovation and fiscal prudence, ultimately contributing to the financial health of the organization.
Right-sizing offers a strategic pathway to optimize cloud costs while maintaining performance excellence. This involves carefully assessing the computing power, memory, and storage needed for each application or service, avoiding the common pitfalls of over-provisioning (allocating more resources than necessary) or underutilization (wasting resources).
This not only leads to substantial cost savings but also enhances the efficiency of your cloud environment, driving higher value from your investments.
Auto-scaling & Automation
Auto-scaling empowers your applications to automatically adjust resources in response to fluctuations in demand, ensuring you only use what’s needed at any given moment, thereby avoiding unnecessary expenses during periods of low activity. Paired with automation, which involves scripting and orchestrating various cloud operations, you’re streamlining processes, reducing manual intervention, and eliminating the risk of human errors that could lead to cost overruns.
Cloud governance encompasses a spectrum of responsibilities, from defining who has access to cloud resources to establishing guidelines for resource provisioning, security protocols, and cost management practices. It empowers you to set up approval workflows for resource creation, ensure adherence to compliance standards, and manage risks associated with cloud costs.
By embracing cloud governance within the context of FinOps, you’re adopting a unified vision where cloud resources are provisioned judiciously, costs are transparent and controlled, and innovation is fortified by a framework that safeguards the organization’s finances.
Regular Review & Optimization
Regular reviews involve systematically examining cloud expenditures, resource utilization, and performance metrics, pinpointing areas of excess spending or underutilization. This proactive scrutiny not only keeps you attuned to emerging cost trends but also provides the insights needed to identify opportunities for optimization.
Optimization, in turn, involves making strategic adjustments to your cloud environment, ranging from resizing instances to modifying storage configurations or adopting serverless architectures. This process is rooted in the principle of extracting the maximum value from every cloud dollar spent.
By harnessing data analytics and insights provided by FinOps tools, you gain real-time visibility into cloud usage, costs, and performance metrics. This data serves as a powerful lens through which you can identify trends, anomalies, and areas of optimization. It empowers you to make decisions grounded in evidence, aligning cloud investments with business goals and budget constraints.
Data-driven decision-making goes beyond gut feelings, offering quantifiable metrics that allow you to assess the impact of technical choices on your organization’s financial health.
By educating teams about the principles of FinOps, cloud cost management best practices, and the impact of their actions on the budget, you’re fostering a culture of accountability and collaboration.
This education not only empowers developers, engineers, and other stakeholders to implement cost-efficient solutions but also encourages open communication between technical and finance teams.
Through workshops, training sessions, and clear documentation, you enable teams to be proactive in identifying areas for optimization, avoiding unnecessary expenditures, and contributing to the overall financial health of the organization.
By embracing continuous improvement within the context of FinOps, you’re committing to regular assessments of your cloud environment, cost patterns, and optimization strategies. This entails gathering feedback from teams, analyzing data-driven insights, and leveraging lessons learned to iteratively enhance your cloud operations.
This approach not only ensures that your organization remains responsive to changing demands but also cultivates a culture of innovation and fiscal responsibility.
Use of Well-Architected Frameworks
By embracing well-architected frameworks, you’re essentially adopting proven design principles that encompass operational excellence, cost optimization, security, reliability, and performance efficiency. This approach not only ensures that your cloud resources are provisioned optimally but also safeguards against unnecessary expenses that might arise from overprovisioning or suboptimal configurations.
By embracing vendor management within the FinOps framework, you’re orchestrating a thorough evaluation of cloud providers’ offerings, pricing models, and service levels. This involves assessing the cost-effectiveness of different service tiers, negotiating contracts that align with your usage patterns, and staying attuned to potential cost-saving opportunities like Reserved Instances or Savings Plans.
Moreover, effective vendor management involves regular performance reviews, ensuring that your chosen provider continues to deliver the value and quality expected. This approach not only maximizes the return on your cloud investments but also nurtures a culture of agility and adaptability.
By embracing risk management within the FinOps framework, you’re essentially conducting a thorough analysis of factors that could impact your cloud expenditure adversely, such as budget overruns, unexpected surges in usage, or misallocated resources.
This process enables you to foresee potential pitfalls and establish controls that minimize the likelihood of these risks materializing.
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