FinOps, at its core, is a cultural practice. As indicated in the FinOps State of Cloud report, getting engineers to act is the number one challenge for FinOps practitioners. Without a culture shift, this will continue to be a top concern. This is not because engineers and developers are bad corporate citizens but because their priorities often do not focus on measuring costs.
FinOps culture means that everyone who impacts cloud costs makes decisions as though they are business owners and base their spending on planned cases.
Meanwhile, leadership communicates the importance of FinOps, and people throughout the organization align their business and personal key performance indicators (KPIs). Ideally, chargeback and showback models will help drive change. The reality of getting to this point is iterative and often a crawl/walk/run journey. To illustrate how cloud sprawl or unmanageable spend can occur, consider this:
It's much easier for an engineer to spend $10K in the cloud than buy a $10 mouse
To buy a mouse, an engineer must first get permission from their boss. Then, they buy the item and send the receipt to finance for approval. The engineer will eventually get the $10 reimbursed in their paycheck if the purchase is approved.
Meanwhile, that same individual can log into their cloud account and spend thousands of dollars without anyone asking a single question.
Enterprises often lack purchasing accountability with the cloud, but not necessarily unintentionally. The cloud enables speed, agility, and innovation. These benefits usually outweigh the risk of overspending. Engineers and developers can go online and buy what they need to do their jobs without getting approval from central IT.
Over time, one engineer can easily spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in the cloud. If users across your organization have access to cloud environments, your spending can get out of control quickly.
You may consider asking engineers and developers to use your optimization recommendations to save money. However, changing resources in the environment may not be realistic. Engineers and developers must innovate quickly and ensure that customer-facing systems work. Lower-priced resources may not meet their technical requirements or service level agreements (SLAs).
You might find areas where engineers and developers overspend to enhance performance without increasing business value. For example, an engineer may change an application's servers from four central processing units (CPUs) to eight, doubling its speed to improve the customer experience.
However, this enhanced performance may not be necessary if your customers are already happy, and you are meeting SLAs. The additional resource costs won't translate into business value.
How to get engineers and developers to act on cloud cost management
According to the FinOps Foundation, the number one challenge that FinOps managers face is getting engineers to participate in cloud cost management.
Many engineers won't act upon your recommendations if they don't have time to follow through or if your cost optimization measures don't align with their key performance indicators (KPIs).