Anti-Patterns in Tech Cost Management: Cost management as a standalone

Series Index

Anti-Pattern 1: Not considering scale
Anti-Pattern 2: Bad cloud strategy
Anti-Pattern 3: Inability to assign/attribute costs
Anti-Pattern 4: No metrics or bad metrics
Anti-Pattern 5: Not designing it in
Anti-Pattern 6: Cost management as a standalone
Anti-Pattern 7/8: No ongoing reviews (current and potential)
Anti-Pattern 9: Across the board cuts
Anti-Pattern 10: “A tool will solve the problem!”
Anti-Pattern Bonus: Don’t do rewards programs!
A few thoughts: Three things you can do right now, for yourself and your team
Wrap up

A FinOps (or alternately “cost control,” “cost management,” “efficiency” or whatever) team has a role in any tech organization that spends enough money to make it worth the effort to actively manage it, which is most beyond some very limited scale.

But it is a common mistake to believe that such a team can be responsible for the cost control activities that need to take place at the ground level in every team that spends money on technology and infrastructure. For a detailed discussion of what a FinOps team should or should not do, I refer to Cloud FinOps v2 and will not get into too much detail here.

In a role I was in a few years back I was effectively told that driving cost reductions was my responsibility. As I noted in discussing the previous slide, this quickly led me to deciding I did not want to remain in that role. There were multiple reasons for this:

  • I had been given responsibility for delivering on what I believed to be an inappropriate goal (see Slide 9), without any opportunity to discuss what the appropriate goals should be.
  • I had not been given any authority over the teams that would need to deliver, and several of them believed the goal to be impossible, as they had not been consulted either.
  • The company used cloud as a datacenter, and had built extremely complex internal platforms that would need to change in order to hit the goals. But my expertise was in cloud (specifically AWS). I could not even fulfill the normal FinOps role of being a useful consultant to the technical teams, as their platforms were well outside my expertise, and the time allotted would not have allowed me to gain appropriate knowledge.

In the past few years I’ve spoken with many people in the cloud cost control/FinOps community and all have similar stories of “somebody” (or “some team”) being hired to finally bring sanity to cost control efforts, but getting none of the support needed, being made responsible for things they couldn’t control or even influence, and thus failing quickly.

I moved on after delivering useful functionality, and before I was forced into something that was designed to fail.

Join us at the SoCal Linux Expo (SCaLE 21x) in Pasadena on March 14-17. My talk will be on Saturday the 16th. I will also be speaking at UpSCaLE on Friday night, and running the Observability track on Saturday and Sunday.

It’s $90 for four days of great content. (If you know me, ping me as I may have a few discount passes left.)

Link to tickets is here.