Delivering business impact with Cloud FinOps

  • Gain new expertise internally, increased productivity of IT team
  • FinOps is practice of driving visibility and bringing financial accountability

Delivering business impact with Cloud FinOpsTo stay ahead of the competition, organisations need to relook at how they can increase productivity and operational efficiencies. Today, organisations in Malaysia are increasingly  turning to cloud to deliver more agile and flexible technology platforms to fuel their own innovation and, in turn, deliver better experiences to customers.

A wholly agile, zero commitment model can work well for some workloads which experience peaks and troughs of demand. However, as cloud adoption matures inside organisations, base loads become more predictable.

This means that organisations must strike a balance between committed spend and agility with their cloud providers so as to maximise the return on their investments whilst keeping the agility they need.  As technology platforms become more dynamic, this can be a daunting task. As such, more and more companies are implementing the practice of cloud financial operations (FinOps), which unites business strategy with enterprise-wide accountability to manage and optimise cloud spend.

FinOps is the relatively new practice of driving visibility and bringing financial accountability to the variable spending model of cloud. Essentially, finance and IT develop a series of best practice measures to quantify and provide insight into the associated cost of cloud usage. The objective is to create a cloud financial model that balances commitment with agility, delivering the needs of the business, whilst continually monitoring and optimising architectures to ensure performance and availability.

The first steps of cloud migration

Cloud migrations represent a major shift in how an organisation enables IT and digital initiatives. This trend is accelerating worldwide, with research firm IDC predicting that ‘whole cloud’ spending is set to reach a whopping US$1.3 trillion worldwide by 2025.

Closer to home, the government had introduced Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint (MyDIGITAL) to elevate the nation’s competitiveness by growing the cloud industry. As part of the programme, the government also aims to migrate 80% of public data to hybrid cloud systems. This will allow cloud services to enable powerful technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence, Internet-of-Things (IoT) and other applications to increase productivity.

The goal of any cloud migration or adoption is to fuel digital transformation and shift the focus to driving innovation. One good example is the deployment of cloud-native application platforms like serverless, microservices, which enables IT professionals to focus on application development or more business outcome focused activities rather than “keeping the lights on.”

These dynamic environments mean that automation must play a larger role. In general, organisations should seek to develop programs and utilise tools that allow them to continually improve security, automation, cost management, resource utilisation and compliance concurrently, with each optimisation creating multiple benefits whenever possible.

Pooling expertise to unlock the best of cloud

What’s the best way for enterprises to organise their strategies and teams to achieve these objectives? As enterprises continue to increase cloud investments, they should also consider how to grow their cloud expertise. Cloud maturity includes centralisation and coordinating decision-making across teams.

This is where the establishment of a Cloud Centre of Excellence (CCoE) may be helpful. The benefits include improved governance, better overall operational efficiency, increased confidence in cloud security, increased accountability, better understanding of cloud bills, easier auditing processes, and more accurate levels of billing departments for their cloud use.

As more firms invest deeper in cloud and the number of cloud users matures, they ought to consider the business value gained from these resources.

FinOps a crucial part of cloud transformation

While FinOps are a key component of a CCoE, many companies still lack visibility into the various aspects of the company’s public cloud operations, and thus are unable to monitor and optimise public cloud costs.

One way cloud decision makers can take a proactive approach to managing their cloud costs is by implementing a FinOps practice. More than simply managing and monitoring costs, FinOps takes a holistic view of the cloud’s business value along with an organisation’s objectives.

In any cloud deployment, FinOps teams have to balance the need for speed/performance, quality and cost. Just as you do not need to drive at race car speed to get to the grocery store, the highest level of performance may not be needed 24/7 for every scenario. FinOps stand to help organisations optimise and right-size their cloud usage, therefore bringing about greater efficiencies in cloud deployment and overall cost.

The awareness and interest to adopt FinOps has grown quickly in Asia Pacific in the last year, and I foresee similar trends in Malaysia too. Enterprises will be looking ‘to do more with less’ as they would seek out cost management measures on the back of inflation and increased business costs.

So, how can we establish this practice quickly? Partnering with Managed Service Providers (MSPs) is an effective way to implement FinOps, as many of them offer managed cloud and financial operations as their core services. Through their MSPs, companies can take a more holistic approach to increase control, optimise their IT resources and budgets more effectively, and deliver critical services such as network, application, infrastructure, and security. This in turn helps to drive the cloud’s business value over time.

For example, when a CCoE is combined with a dedicated MSP in cloud operations, enterprises can go even deeper into their cloud journey and often gain a more well-rounded approach to their cloud transformation projects.

NetApp customers that have adopted the MSP approach have told us that they enjoyed many benefits  ̶  gaining expertise they did not previously have internally, realising increased productivity of the IT team, enhanced security and compliance, and a reduction in overall cloud costs.

Clearly, FinOps and its implementation via an MSP model is one that organisations should consider in the next phase of their cloud journey.

Note: Carol Wang is Country Manager of NetApp Malaysia.


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