Ep#142 The FinOps Foundation and FinOps X: Empowering Tech Leaders

June 25, 2023

Episode Summary

Welcome to the Jon Myer Podcast, where we bring you the latest insights and trends in the dynamic world of cloud technology and finance. Today, we have two extraordinary guests joining us, J.R. Storment, the Executive Director of the FinOps Foundation, and Mike Fuller, the CTO of the FinOps Foundation. These remarkable individuals are not only authors of the groundbreaking book, "Cloud FinOps," but also pioneers in reshaping how organizations optimize their cloud resources and drive maximum value.

In the past few years, FinOps has experienced a seismic shift driven by the COVID cloud acceleration and economic concerns. Astonishingly, 90% of Fortune 50 companies, with 45 out of 50 participating, are actively engaged in FinOps programs. We're eager to explore the journey of FinOps, from its cultural discipline to the emergence of new tools and platforms, its integration into cloud provider offerings, and the industry's recognition and certification. But first, let's address the burning question on everyone's mind: Is FinOps really fun?

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JR Headshot

About the Guest

J.R. Storment

J.R. is executive director of the FinOps Foundation (a program of the Linux Foundation), co-author of O'Reilly's book on cloud financial management called "Cloud FinOps, Collaborative, Real-Time Cloud Financial Management", and was formerly the co-founder of Cloudability which was acquired by Apptio, where he served as the GM of Cloud & VP of Product. He has spent the last 25 years building web platforms and the last 10 working with hundreds of the largest cloud spenders in the world—from GE to Nike to BP to Atlassian to Uber to Spotify— to design strategies to optimize and analyze their cloud financial management discipline.

Mike Headshot

Mike Fuller

Mike Fuller has worked at Atlassian's Sydney Australia head office for the past 7 years, currently as a Principal Systems Engineer in the Cloud Engineering Team (Cloud Center of Excellence). Mike's role at Atlassian has him working with most of the AWS Services and assisting teams inside Atlassian to operate with security, high availability and cost efficiency. Atlassian's Cloud Engineering team is responsible for the design, governance, and implementation of best practices at Atlassian. Mike holds a bachelor degree in Computer Science and 9 AWS certifications, is an author of "Cloud FinOps: Collaborative, real-time cloud financial management" and has presented at multiple AWS Re:Invent and AWS Summit events on topics involving AWS Security and Cost Optimisation (FinOps).

#aws #awscloud #finops #cloudcomputing #costoptimization

Episode Show Notes & Transcript

Host: Jon

Hi everybody and welcome to the Jon Myer podcast. Today's topic, the FinOps Foundation, and FinOps X, empower tech leaders and FinOps practitioners in the era of mainstream cloud. Joining us today is J.R. Storment, executive director of the FinOps Foundation. Along with him is Mike Fuller, CT O of the FinOps Foundation, J.R. As the executive director of the FinOps Foundation, which is a Linux Foundation program, which features over 10,000 members worldwide, including involvement from the majority of the world's largest cloud spenders. His experience includes being a co-founder of Cloudability, a pioneer in the cloud cost management space from 2011 to 2019, which notably was acquired by Apptio and became its flagship product. Now Mike, as the CTO of the FinOps Foundation, a not-for-profit foundation under the Linux Foundation, his responsibilities include best practices and content produced alongside leading the A P J community, Mike has co-authored both editions of the Cloud FinOps books. All Right, published by O'Reilly Media alongside J.R. Wiley, is regarded as the FinOps book. Please join me in welcoming J.R. and Mike to the show, J.R. Mike. Hi.

Guest: J.R.

Thanks for having us,

Host: Jon

Guys. I appreciate this. Now we're doing this recording a little bit ahead of time, ahead of a major event that's happening. Yes, FinOps X, we're going to be talking about that along the show, but before we get this J.R., how about a little bit more information about yourself?

Guest: J.R.

Oh boy. About myself. Well, it's as a first time, a nonprofit employee often asked what the heck we do, and I'll probably start there because I think I, I'm just coming off of a weekend with my family and I got that question again. What the heck is this job that you're doing? And I will tell you it didn't feel over very well to explain it to people outside of tech. But what I found after a lot of years in technology of building vendor platforms and specifically in this early space of cloud consumption, was that the real interesting challenges that I like to work on were less about the technology and more about the people challenges of getting people to understand how to operate in a cloud world, helping people to advance their careers, and ultimately as our mission is focused on around advancing the people who do the practice of FinOps. Yeah, I'm a big fan of working with this amazing community and I had a lot of luck to be working closely with Mike these last few years and building out the ops books. And as part of that, really getting the chance to, I think, retell a lot of stories that come out of this community of the 10,000 practitioners.

Host: Jon

Okay, J.R. You tell a lot of stories and that's how I explain to people, what do you do, Jon? Well, I tell stories, but really I'm just pulling other stories out of people and making them compelling and they're like, exactly, and you get paid to do this. Yeah, and I enjoy

Guest: J.R.

It. Exactly. Where does the money come from?

Host: Jon

Yeah, people want their stories sold. There's always a story to be told. Mike, how about you? A little bit of backstory on yourself.

Guest: Mike

Yeah, so I come before the foundation, I was 10 years at Atlassian as a principal engineer, started in the Cloud center of excellence, focused on all of the pillars of a well-architected cloud, and had a sort of temptation and a draw, an attraction towards the cloud cost and built out the cloud FinOps team there at Atlassian. And during that process built a lot of friendships across the industry with other people doing a similar role. And I guess coming back to that stories as like we were sharing stories and sharing tidbits and tips, and I guess that sort of led us into this world of trying to build a definition of FinOps that we can share with everybody and the foundation-building that community where there's just a great place to everyone to share their stories, their best practices and what they're doing and how they're doing it.

Host: Jon

Well, Mike, let's lead with that, the definition of FinOps. What is FinOps?

Guest: Mike

So I guess the big thing is FinOps is not just cost optimization. It is a cultural practice that you have this driver, it's an evolving cloud, financial management discipline, and cultural practice. And we do emphasize the fact that this is something that changes the way people think about cloud costs within their organization. And it is to drive the organization to make near real-time decisions about the use of the cloud that drives the maximum value for the business. And so sometimes that might mean you're driving for better efficiency. Other times that might mean you're leaning into spend to gain the best value for your customers. And so it's trying to do this trade-off between how much you're spending on the cloud and what you're getting for that spend in the cloud.

Host: Jon

Well, J.R. let me ask you this question. How long has FinOps or cloud FinOps been around and why has it grown so much in the last few years?

Guest: J.R.

Yeah, it's funny because so many people who've been in this space a while say, oh, the spin ops concept, it's new. But as somebody who is in one of the early platforms in this space, I started having these conversations with companies back in 2009, 2010, and 2011, about the sort of value side of the cloud. I've been to nine Amazon reinvent conferences now, and in the early days when it was just a couple thousand people, you go to the conference and all the talks would be about the technology and these amazing new, at the time, Amazon was rolling out groundbreaking feature after groundbreaking feature, and it was hard for the people who were doing the cloud sort of cost management value side of things to find others who were talking about the concepts. Everything on stage at these cloud events was all about how to do this feature better with this new service in this way.

Guest: J.R.

But then in the back of it, what I was finding through the work in the platform side of things was that he had all these folks, and that's how I got to meet Mike Fuller. He was at Atlassian. I think we sat down on a couch in his office in Sydney way back in like 2015. And we're talking through a lot of the concepts of things like reserved instances and these financial vehicles that were kind of largely unknown because people were not focused on the cost side of the cloud at that point because it was still such an emerging thing. And what we saw happen, and at the time, you call it cost optimization or cloud financial management or any of the other terms, what started to happen around I would say 20 17, 20 18, is that enough of these folks that started to come together and realize that there was more than just an issue of how do we optimize costs?

Guest: J.R.

There were some critical changes in how the organization needed to function, where engineers had to care about cost and finance, people had to report on things differently and they had to come together really to do this data-driven decision-making process that we talk a lot about. And fast forward a couple more years and Covid accelerates cloud adoption considerably. You've got a lot of folks migrating faster and then you have economic concerns coming in. And we've kind of been up in this place now where I used to pre-2019 before I started the FinOps Foundation, and Mike was one of the first board members, I would go speak at cloud events and it'd be like, who hears heard of Ops or does cloud financial management or any of the terms, and you'd get a couple of people put their hands up, but largely blank stares people, I don't know, this cloud thing is just too expensive and I can't get my engineers to take action and I don't know what my bill's going to be.

Guest: J.R.

And I heard you guys are talking about cost and cloud now with the acceleration, not just of those things, but cloud spending being a material line item for a lot of big organizations out there. We talked to a lot of the enterprises in the foundation and it's like they got their labor costs and then they've got their cloud costs, and those are big considerations, and only one of them is a very flexible lever that you can adjust the cloud cost being the variable sort of operational side. So we've seen now that in the last couple of years, we've had over 90%, we were at 88% as of last week, but we're now at 90% of the Fortune 50. The biggest companies in the world who have participated in the FinOps Foundation's programs, like all these large organizations are realizing that they need to do more than just use the cloud. They need to get more value out of it. And that's been a cool thing to see for us. I mean, we're working on this for more than 10 years in this space, and it's fun to see it go from sort of a fringe focus to such a mainstream path

Host: Jon

J.R. One of the things that I think about with the cloud is the variable cost. And it was very hard for everybody to understand in the early days, you were talking FinOps before FinOps was key for the cost. Everything that kind of goes around with it. And what I see from in the early days, adopt cloud and you are right on the mark, right at reinvent, they're releasing all these new services and everybody wants to jump on it and hear. You're like, Hey, we should understand what's going to be the cost of these as they go forward. We should understand how we should implement some of these and worry about it. And everybody's like, no, no, no, don't worry about it just going later. We're just going to the cloud. Let's go quick. And covid happened. Everybody's thrown stuff into the cloud as fast as possible. And did you know that in la, the reinvent that just happened, there were probably over 22 cost optimization sessions available to take plus or minus some because I did so many releases in highlight because I knew it was key right around that time.

Guest: J.R.

Yeah, no, it's been amazing to see that shift and it's been cool to see people like you picking up and focusing in this area. And that's the thing that I think the individuals if we think about again, the mission of the foundation is how do we accelerate these practitioner's journeys? We constantly hear from them when we get them together. Oh, I'm not alone. I didn't realize that these challenges that I'm facing in my organization are the same things. And when we go talk to, I mean Mike was at an Atlassian, we talked to people at the giant, giant organizations like the JP Morgan Chases. They're all kind of facing the same challenges. It's this cultural shift. There is a tooling component to it, a reporting component, but it's really how do we get people working together in new ways? How do we get them looking at data in new ways and how do we start to get more common languages put together so that these disparate teams, like the engineering and finance teams, can come together and have conversations?

Guest: J.R.

And I will quote my co-author here of the book, Mike Fuller at Atlassian. He was saying that, yeah, there you go. One of my favorite quotes, I use it all the time, Mike, usually when you're not in the room. So it's a little awkward. But I think you said something like, as a FinOps practitioner, I know that I'm successful when I can get my finance folks with my DevOps folks in a room together when I'm not there and they can have a meaningful conversation and make decisions together. And that's really, I think the job of this role. It's not to go out there and do all the FinOps and manage the cloud. It's about how you enable the rest of the organization, just like security teams enable the larger organization where everybody's responsibility is security, FinOps is a shared accountability model right across engineering, finance, product teams, business, et cetera.

Host: Jon

Mike, was that a direct quote?

Guest: Mike

Yeah, I do remember the

Guest: J.R.

Book Check

Host: Jon

Mike. Let's talk a little bit more about FinOps and the culture shift, but some of the core principles that are around and why they value those.

Guest: Mike

Yeah, so I think one of the sorts of core ones as far as building that culture is this, everybody's taking responsibility for their cloud spend. And if you don't, effectively when you transition into the cloud, then, there's the buying power or the approval process that was there around on-prem, you had these natural gates and these artificial limits. So there were gates as far as getting the purchasing power to purchase equipment, which is gone. When you go to the cloud, you can click a button or write some code that buys more servers or more capacity. And also the availability of capacity. I mean the cloud is in italics, limitless. And so the pressure of, oh, we've only got this many terabytes of storage on the racks, or we've only got this much memory available on the servers, it's all gone away. You could just ask for more.

Guest: Mike

And so by those sort of two things together, it means that DevOps engineers are empowered. They can move fast. They're not artificially capped by those processes, but it also means that they can just purchase and purchase at will. And then usually you'll find that companies are fairly comfortable with this at first, it's not a material amount of money. They have a very fixed target of getting to the cloud or migrating to the cloud or building something in the cloud. And so there's sort of an acceptance of a growing cost there, but at some point, that sort of runs its course and it gets out of spec with expectations of the business. And so if you start by at least understanding that you as an engineer have taken on this responsibility of the buying and in return you need to be accountable for the decisions you're making.

Guest: Mike

So that sets the scene for why the engineer needs to be involved in this process of thinking about dollars versus just letting the finance team worry about that at the end of the month. And then a lot of the principles are a satellite around that, the availability of near time, near realtime data so that the engineer is empowered to understand what is the cost that they're accountable for. And then the central to FinOps team being there to help not do FinOps for the org but help FinOps happen, have help harness it and encourage those responsibilities, those actions that need to be taken, those considerations that need to be there between engineers, finance, business leaders, so they can see FinOps being born in the organization and then encouraged. So the principles do satellite around this idea of just people understanding their responsibility, their role to play in this, and the reason that they are the ones to be responsible for or the key persona of playing that part in the Philip journey.

Guest: J.R.

Jon, if you don't mind, I could add oh to one other question you asked me earlier that might kind of remind me of who's talking there about kind of what's changed and what's happened. And we saw a couple of big themes emerge when we were between the 2019 version of the book and the 2022 slash 23 version and one of the

Host: Jon

Size

Guest: J.R.

That was the hardest thing was to figure out where to stop writing because there were a lot more things in 2019 that were academic and the ideas of it. And then by 2022, there were so many people in the community and stories where we could include stories about multiple ways to do things like these people say this is the best way to forecast these people buy tools, these people build tools. Let's give all the examples. But the big thing is we went back to look at the community and let me tell you, after working on a book, you do not want to look at it. So I didn't crack open that old book for two or three years, and when I did crack it open, there was a real us versus them mentality between the FinOps teams and the engineering teams. And I think that's because in the early days, the cost wasn't something at companies who were not as scaled in the cloud that was against integration yet that engineers had to care about because their leadership wasn't telling them to.

Guest: J.R.

It wasn't part of their daily job. But in a world where the cloud's becoming the primary cloud-first approach for these folks, we saw a shift from both proactive to reactive, reactive to proactive ops where people weren't thinking about it after they deployed resources. Engineers were thinking about it before they deployed resources and a shift from the old world of FinOps teams kind of chasing after the engineering teams to be better at cost optimization, turn off that thing, and you should right size all that. I wouldn't say it, it's no longer a part of early-stage practices, but the mature practices now are s the state of FinOps or annual survey. The majority of practices report to the CTO or CIO now they're engineering-led practices. The shift left has been, now we're thinking about cost, not after we deploy the thing, but we're looking at it in the early design consideration phases of architecting for the cloud. And that's been cool to see the stuff that we were thinking could happen in 2019 is now happening in these organizations.

Host: Jon

Some of the old school mentality, and I was part of that at an enterprise level and I'm talking about companies that have been around for years is that the procurement process took six months to a year to get hardware and to deploy it. Now you can click a button and get it right away. Mike, do you see some of the challenges that, are coming across those challenges that enterprises like the old schools are having a tougher time implementing or understanding FinOps versus those cloud-first type companies? Or is it even across the board?

Guest: Mike

Yeah, I think we heard a lot of stories, especially in the early days of building the foundation where people would come in and the company would've reached this bill-shock moment where someone in the organization has realized the cloud spending was a lot higher than they expected. And the reaction to those build shock moments was often to stop engineering, to hold back to really sort of curtail the progress that they had. And so that sort of stifles the innovation that was happening within the organization. And so when a procurement department starts with old clouds, not big enough for me to worry about these are only tens and 10 onesies, and two, I worry about the big number of deals, but then the cloud all of a sudden under the rug becomes the big number deal that they didn't know about by clamping down and trying to put the procurement process back in the way does break the value that you got by going to the cloud.

Guest: Mike

And so it's the organizations that take on the understanding that they don't want to break that innovation. They want to enable it and harness it, but also keep control or keep in touch with the way the cloud spend has been growing and the way that's driving it, and where they're making those decisions to invest. And so FinOps is there not to break the innovation cycle and get in the way, but it's also not there to just put the procurement cycle back in and solve it for the procurement partner. There's thinking about how can we get the right numbers to the right people and create the right conversations at the right time within the organization so that you know are allowing engineers to make those decisions to purchase when they need to. And as they're making those, you're informing everyone around the organization. So if that is starting to drive or starting to head or forecast out into ways that the organization's not comfortable with, the conversations are then happening about what are the alternate options or what are our opportunities to pull that back to meet the growth of cost that the company's hoping for.

Host: Jon

J.R. Mike talked about the culture, getting the information into the right hands, and it ultimately comes down to a lot of the engineers who are deploying it, the business-driven decisions. I think one of the challenges, and one of the things that the audience wants to know and understand is that I'm an engineer, but I know the FinOps foundation, the survey for the last two years, the number one issue is getting engineers to do action. One of the things that to do that, how do you get them to do actions to care about these actions when a lot of the mentality, and I'm pretty sure it's out there, is that it's not my money, right? But yeah, that's a huge challenge.

Guest: J.R.

Yeah, and part of that frustration is also I think coming from engineering teams who are being asked to go be more cost-effective, but they're faced with this onslaught of priorities and tasks and jobs that need to be done around delivering features and security and scalability and reliability and keeping up with all those areas. And so the challenge isn't anything that the engineers are doing wrong, or even now as we've seen companies start to integrate those things into their practices, it's getting leadership buy-in and support to make cost a priority and to make cost a priority, not as I mentioned, after you ship something, but early on in that process, which gets to moving from the C F O freaks out once a quarter and then we try and turn things off in every sprint, in every architectural review, we are looking at how to make this cost-efficient.

Guest: J.R.

And there there's a great story that a guy named Gabe Peg who worked at Apple, he was at FinOps X last year and he shared this idea of thinking that engineers work through constraints. They need to deliver this thing, they're giving a set of requirements and the innovation comes and they have a set of constraints that they need to work around or to deliver the value, and the cost is just another constraint to consider. And he shared this metaphor of whether you're building a Porsche or whether you're building a Toyota. And typically people when they want to build the Porsche of cloud, they want to use the most expensive services and they think that's where all the innovation and cool stuff happens. But the one building the Toyota sort of side of things, who has those tighter cost constraints, actually has to be more innovative in how they're thinking about services and how they're thinking about efficiencies.

Guest: J.R.

And both of those teams are drawing on similar skills. They're drawing on similar processes, but to encourage and remind engineering partners and leaders that innovation, which is so important for a lot of folks working cloud as engineers can come at that lower cost and really to then start celebrating that as part of a core part of the engineering discipline. Like wow, rather than you architected the most highly reliable thing using every service out there, your architect is something highly reliable for less cost. That's something that I can not just get my engineering leadership about, but I can highlight to the business leaders as well. And that's a huge win and helping, I think engineers see that impact on the larger business, but also as we've seen some companies start to do making cost consciousness, FinOps certifications, these types of things, part of the engineering Ladders for Advancement, part of the annual reviews. But in a lot of cases, as we see, unfortunately, it comes down to money. So once that executive in the technology organization has a bonus tied to being cost-efficient, that's where a lot of it starts to trickle down as well.

Host: Jon

That's ironic. It's tied to money. And we're here talking about FinOps and some of the business-driven factors around IT culture. It's not just about cost savings. Everybody. To let you know, our topic today is the FinOps Foundation and FinOps X emerging technology leaders and FinOps practitioners in the era of mainstream cloud. And we're talking with J.R. Stormer and Mike Fuller about it. Now, J.R. here's the ultimate question for you, FinOps fun.

Guest: J.R.

We have a good time with it. I think we were joking about this question as we were leading in not tip hand to the audience a little bit. This one did end up on our prep sheet, and Mike, I kind of want to turn this to you because I think one of the things we started vamping on was just how much FinOps is a discipline that lets you bring together lots of disparate ideas. There's tech, there's finance, there's culture, there's spend more, there's spend less. So that's part of the thing that I think is fun is it's getting people to get to play with both being technologists and get to be playing with being business people and seeing how to put those two together and collaborate in the organization. I don't know, Mike, you've done FinOps hands-on a lot more over the years than I have. What's your take?

Guest: Mike

Yeah, I guess if I reflect upon my own experience of getting into FinOps 20 odd years ago, showing my age, I did a degree in Compsci part of that degree. I did a few accounting subjects just to fill out the degree. And yeah, I didn't lean on any of that accounting knowledge for well over 10 years after doing that. And then sitting in the cloud center of excellence at Atlassian, this cloud bill sort of crops up and we need to deal with it. And hey, I know money. I've done some accounting before, and you kind of hark back to some of that knowledge that you had back in the day. And so I think there was this little seed sitting there of interest in the dollar terms and how this plugs into the wider business and then connecting the two worlds, doing stuff in the tech space, but dragging upon that knowledge I had previously.

Guest: Mike

And I think you see that a lot where practitioners will join the foundation and they'll talk about, they fell into the job is kind of the thing. They say that, and what happens is they had this opportunity to look at the cloud bill, no one else was interested in it, but they sort of took a bit of a, picked an interest in it, and then next minute they become the billing data expert and then all of a sudden they realized that they were doing something that had a name and then they found a whole community of people just like them. And so yeah, I think that you have to have a bit of an interest in this space for you to enjoy it, but I think just a little bit of an interest can turn into a real keen career for yourself.

Guest: J.R.

No, one of the most fun things I think that we've amp on a lot and we ended the book in this area is that all the people in the community, they're the special ingredient they are getting right now to evolve and define this practice. It's like DevOps, I don't know, 15 years ago, 20 years ago where shoot, every year there's a new technology, it's like new cloud technologies, new ops concepts, and refinements, and people are getting so much better at the allocations and the chargebacks and their optimizations and all these things. And so that part is fun. And part of, I think the fun part of our job is we get to talk to those people on that leading edge and bring them together and put them on stage and collect their stories. And it's been an oddly fun little community that's developed because people are a part of creating this thing. And at that stage, and we found in not this last survey, the two back states of ops, it was 90% of the people who took the survey considered FinOps as their primary career path. It doesn't mean they all had FinOps jobs, but this was the part of engineering they wanted to do or this was the focus on cloud within finance. And so that's been cool to see

Host: Jon

The community. Mike, J.R., you touched on it, the community is key. I've been able to join several community events this year. I was not part of the FinOps part. I was doing cloud cost optimization, and this was something I enjoyed. And Mike, you were saying it's something that you're passionate about and it's not all about looking at the bill and the numbers, but you're talking to everybody and you're finding new business processes to do something. You're changing the culture within and everybody's looking at it and just like everything else, it's like a cycle. You're doing small implementations, reviewing the processes, and the reports you implement, optimize over time. And I think it's just something that you're passionate about joining, and the community is key. They help you understand. They tell you the stories that are happening, the things that they go through, and then you're like, oh, wow, I never even thought about that. Or they're passionate about looking at the bill. And while I'm not passionate about looking at a thousand line items in the CSV, hey,

Guest: J.R.

Thousand line items, some of those are into millions, hundreds of millions, billions. I

Host: Jon

Would be generous. My bill's only,

Guest: J.R.

I saw a CSV file from the cloud providers once that had 82 billion commas in it indicating there were that many charges associated single months file. Yeah.

Host: Jon

Yeah. I don't know how some do it, but it's very, that's why there are tools, reporting capabilities going around it. J.R. I want to ask you about some of the leading cloud providers that have embraced. Why are they doing that? Why do they see the value in this?

Guest: J.R.

Yeah, I was just telling Mike, I was up in the Seattle Bellevue area on Thursday and I got invited with myself and some of our team to go in and talk at this very large Fortune 25 company there. And we were telling them about the introduction to FinOps. They had a bunch of engineering leaders and managers capacity people in there. And we were telling 'em about this new initiative we have, which is the focus FinOps open cost and usage specifications. It's an open billing data project, and how we've got it, it just launched officially last month when we announced it. It's going to launch its first versions at FinOps X. We've already got three of the top four cloud providers who are participating in it, working on a complete set of those right now. And this guy in the back, a little bit of a salty engineer been in the game a while.

Guest: J.R.

He puts his hand up and he's like, why on earth would the cloud providers want to make this billing stuff easier than just lose the money? And it's like, no, no, no. What they recognize is the billing data is super complex. We talked about billions of commas. The billing data is been, it's been chasing and evolving over the years after all these cloud services. AWS alone has 700,000 skews like individual product offerings. And at the end of the day, the data being somewhat inconsistent between clouds and not always easy to understand by the unpracticed eye slows down cloud adoption. It makes the job of the companies harder when they've got to go prove the value of cloud technology and report on it. And in the end, the clouds themselves struggle with this as well, which is a lot of there, and they all have these customer teams that are forward facing that work with their big spenders or their growing spenders to help understand the costs and dig in and help build up the models and allocations and the technology is not enough.

Guest: J.R.

And so the reason we've seen a lot of interest, and I was sitting after in that same meeting on Thursday, I was meeting with one of the product folks from one of the cloud providers, and I shared this story with that person and that person said about why would the cloud providers not, why would they participate in this? And he was like, why the hell wouldn't we? Pardon my French? He's like, this makes my job easier because I can rely on the community to help figure out the organizational stuff and the community to help figure out the billing data and I can focus on building better features and better reporting and better tooling for my customers. And you all get to collaborate on helping agree on specifications to demystify those bits. And that's been one of the coolest things is that in our working groups for the Open Building Data project focus, the most excited people are the product engineering teams from the cloud companies who are trying to figure out what are the right ways to describe this data. How do I line it against other systems? How do we get to a world in which we can show SaaS spend and have structured service spending altogether? So lo long answer, but I think in a lot of ways it all kind of helps out, which is you've got the cloud consumers and you've got the cloud creators of the billing data, the two constituencies, and they're trying to get better at working together. And we've just seen a really good conduit for them starting to do that. Now,

Host: Jon

Mike, we've seen several hyper scalers join the FinOps foundation. There are a couple or some that haven't joined. What are some of the thoughts behind that? And Mike or J.R., I'm not sure who would love to answer this question, but I don't want to put one of you on the spot.

Guest: Mike

So I think we have had a really good collaboration with all of the cloud providers over the years. And the obvious elephant in the room is we haven't yet signed s let's be honest openly know what that is, but we have had a lot of a w s staff members collaborate with us over the years on all different initiatives. So I don't think that there's, there's a disinterest there for the FinOps space. It is just obviously the organizational alignment getting the right place in the organization to connect with us. And we are always talking to them and we're always having positive conversations with them. And I know J.R., I could probably add a bit more color to that, but I think the main thing is just to realize that there's not an interest, not a disinterest in collaborating with us, not a misunderstanding of the value. I think that there's a lot of interest there from the individuals within aws. So

Guest: J.R.

Yeah, and look, thanks for the tough question also, Jon, and I didn't mean to pass it to you, Mike, but kind of like we saw this thing coming a few years ago and knew it was going to be big because we just happened to be working in companies with companies that had this problem before a lot of others did. We know we're going to get a complete alignment with the cloud providers because the work we're doing is involving all their biggest customers from all the cloud providers. When we talk about 90% of the Fortune 50, that includes the biggest customers from all the cloud providers. And we're seeing those folks roll up their sleeves right around contributing to things like the focus project, telling their stories, writing best practices, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure, and Oracle Cloud, who are all members of the foundation have all spoken publicly and there are great blog posts from Google a week or two ago about all their plans for contributing to this data, looking at how to improve cloud billing exports, ways that they want to, I mean, Microsoft's going to be aligning their cloud allocation or cloud adoption framework materials.

Guest: J.R.

How do we get this stuff? Because when we've got everybody at the table and trying to speak a common language, it helps out everybody. And we don't see ops or the work of it really as something that would say encourage somebody to use less cloud. We always see more effective people, use more clouds, and then often end up with multiple clouds. And I think that's one of the things that's changed considerably in the last couple years too, where so many of the big companies suspenders had, they're one big cloud provider, and then I'm dabbling over here, or now we're seeing organizations having two or three, sometimes four that are at massive scale and they're needing to now share best practices. And each cloud provider has great ways to optimize this one cloud provider. But we found that our focus and where the success has been around that organizational layer and how we start to fuse the common language bits,

Host: Jon

J.R. Here's my expert opinion. I think guess what? Not this reinvent. I think either by next reinvent or one of the major summits, there's going to be an announcement. And that's just my prediction because ultimately AWS does every single factor of the FinOps foundation, of the culture change, of the cloud customization that they're going to want to join because it's the right thing to do, not because they're pressured to just because they just want to align internally and then they want to do it. But that's just my thoughts.

Guest: J.R.

Well, I think that aligns with the idea of customer obsession, right? If your customers can be helped there, then that's the right place to be. And that's why we're, we're confident we'll get alignment with everybody soon. But at the same time, because we've got the giant cloud spends, I mean the Apples, the JP Morgan Chases, the Adobes who are all participating in our forums and all working on becoming contributors to focus, including the big retailers as well, who are largely going to be keynoting at our conference, FinOps X talking about these problems and talking about the scale that they have. We got Tim O'Brien from Walmart a company with 2 million people and astronomical cloud spending trying to manage this problem. And he's going to be sharing about the data problems they have and how he's contributing to this effort because it is about not only just helping individual companies, but when we can have these standard specifications, it makes the industry move more. You can hire somebody from a different sector and come in and work on your cloud practice without having to figure out all the terminology. And so yeah, it's been exciting to see it all come together and it's slowly getting to where it needs to

Host: Jon

Be everybody. Our topic today is the FinOps Foundation and FinOps X emerging tech leaders and FinOps practitioners in the era of mainstream cloud. Joining us are J.R. and Mike Fuller. Now, Mike, let's talk about certifications a little bit. By the way, I got my ops practitioner certification. It was very challenging. I failed the first time because there was a lot of stuff in the domains. I knew the normal concepts, but everything in the book. So I want to educate people that you have to go through the book and take some of those. But Mike, what is the value of getting your certifications for FinOps?

Guest: Mike

Yeah, so I think the certifications are really, we see it in two different ways. Those who see the FinOps as their career and the certification do help set the bar for the knowledge that they need to meet and drive them to get to that bar. But then once they've got that, you've got that recognition that you have that skill set, that knowledge base and you can use that within your environment. We have a FinOps Pro course for those who do want to become an expert in FinOps within organizations. And so that's kind of heading towards career development and those who want to stand out amongst their peers. And then the rest of the training programs that we offer talk about the need for understanding of FinOps across the whole organization. We, talk a lot about the fact that you need to affect culture change and that the FinOps team isn't there just to do FinOps to support that.

Guest: Mike

Practitioners are looking at ways to educate their staff across the organization. And so we have persona-based roles, and training programs to help the finance person understand what FinOps means. The procurement person understands what FinOps means to them. The engineers understand their role to play in FinOps. And so by connecting the dots between all of the different personas, understand what FinOps is and what it means to them. You've got a team of certified practitioners that understand more deeply the domains and capabilities that you just talked about. And then that FinOps professional being that sort of one or two stand out staff members in that FinOps team that understand how to implement FinOps at an organization from scratch and how to take it from zero to a hundred across the organization so they sort of assemble the education and distribute it around the organization where it makes sense.

Host: Jon

Mike, I want to work on doing the professionally. I like the instructor portion of it. I see the huge value of implementing FinOps within the environment and in the community. Now we have time for just two more questions because the last question I want to ask is FinOps X. We got to talk about that. That's happening, so hang tight, but J.R. my last question before we talk about FinOps is why do folks tend to join the FinOps Foundation. What's the value in them joining it?

Guest: J.R.

Yeah, I think we touched on a lot of 'em, but first and foremost, it's connecting with peers. Others in similar roles are opt-in at very different types of companies and sometimes in very different parts of the world who are facing the same challenges. And when we started this thing in 2019, Mike was one of 26 practitioners, and you got guys like him. He is Australia at Atlassian at the time, connecting with people, talking to us, and pharmaceutical companies, and R realized they were dealing with the same things every day in their jobs. So it's a lot of what we do is bringing together those groups through events in-person, virtual, or otherwise. The other big thing, as Mike was touching on, is certification and training. So much of what people are trying to do is advance their careers in this space. The best story, I don't want to tip my hand too much about a story I'm going to tell on stage at X, but we've seen people come pull themselves up on their coat from bad places, go through training, and certifications, get into the community and get into jobs that kind of change their life.

Guest: J.R.

Gentlemen, we're going to hear about X going 10 x on his income after spending years of going through the work of doing an internship and getting certified and working with peers and all those things. So that's exciting to see. And the last reason from the aspect of best practices is there are a lot of working groups. We use a run seven to 10 at a time where you get peers together to focus on solving a problem. There are those things like Focus itself, the open billing data initiative, and it's a great way for people to contribute and get their names out and learn as well. They're doing it. So at the end of the day, it's kind of all those things together, and people tend to, we keep the emails every day where it's, okay, I've left company A to move to company B, or now I was a practitioner, now I work for this cloud. Now I've left this cloud. I'm going to this platform. Now I work at a, and they're sticking with us through this journey and asking to update their emails because they come here and with their people, they're not alone. And that's cool to see.

Host: Jon

It's nice to see the community and the involvement. Now it's time to talk about FinOps X, Mike. Mike shared with us about FinOps X, what's happening?

Guest: Mike

So this is going to be a massive event this year. I missed out last year, so I'm super excited to get to go this year. We have talks, and breakout sessions on all different topics of FinOps from all layers, all different spectrums of maturity levels. But for me, it's like the community is great, and sitting in Slack or getting into Zoom calls with individual members is awesome, but coming together all at a single place in real life, being able to meet with and talk with your peers together, there's so much value that you'll get from that network networking as far as building friendships and creating connections across the industry. So for individual practitioners, there's no better place to find connections and build your build-out network. And hearing from so many experts across the industry or the two days of breakout sessions and chalk talks, we also will have all of our big partner vendors there to talk about their tools and demonstrate their feature sets. And so being able to go from to one location and everything is all at the one place. It's going to be very exciting. And I know J.R., you can fill in all of the exciting details of the happenings of the different events.

Guest: J.R.

I think you did a great job. I mean, I would say just today, Jon, we passed a thousand registered attendees for this event, which was my internal goal in Target, and it's like a big celebration. Joe Daley, our head of community, has done an amazing job in outreach to individuals for months. And the cool thing is that this one we've got in the keynotes, we've got CIOs and CFOs talking about from public companies, big companies like JP Morgan Chase and HSBC and Equifax, talking about the Y ops. We have a panel check this out. We got VPs of billing from Oracle, Microsoft, and Google all doing a panel together talking about the importance of investing in cost optimization management for their customers. And that's all the big stage stuff. But the small stage stuff, I think is the most exciting. I think over 60 breakouts, and we're doing chalk talks, which is fun, where we're getting people together with a whiteboard literally in a room like 40 people working through the best ways to do a certain FinOps capability. But I think the biggest thing is there is a party on a frigging aircraft. I

Host: Jon

Was just going to ask you what's happening on this aircraft.

Guest: J.R.

We're having a party on a four-acre deck, the USS Midway, which is a museum now, but a World War II era, a giant aircraft carrier that's full of aircraft and simulators and fantastic 306-degree views of San Diego, California, and Coronado Island and the ocean, right at sunset with music and awards. There's going to be a bunch of ops awards happening there, and as Mike said, it's like these things are about the connections. I could talk all day about the content, but it's all about, and this what we designed the conference to be, I call it the coffee line test. We want everybody to be able to turn around to whoever is behind them or in front of them in the coffee line or the drinks line or whatever and be able to have an interesting conversation. So it's this fantastic mix of practitioners, vendors, clouds, and consultants, but everybody doing this practice together, and it's bigger than we thought it would be, which is fun.

Host: Jon

J.R., when is the FinOps X happening?

Guest: J.R.

Yes, important detail. June 27th, two 30th in beautiful San Diego, where, unlike last year in Austin, which was our first one, we had a great turnout. We thought it was going to be 200 people, ended up being four 40. It was 105 degrees and humid, which should be like 72, and lovely at a beautiful Marriott Marquee hotel.

Host: Jon

I have to tell you, I have a confession. I will not make FinOps X this year. I'd already planned a family vacation during that time, so I will be on a lake at a lake house watching you guys throughout some of this and what's happening on social media. I will cultivate a couple of posts for you.

Guest: J.R.

Ah, that's amazing. Thank you. I think that's a good excuse. That's the unfortunate timing we're right up at right before the summer holidays, but hopefully, we'll see you next year.

Host: Jon

I will plan, you know what, if you give me an insight on the dates, I'll make sure I reserve that. So I can't plan a vacation.

Guest: J.R.

There may be an announcement coming at this year's being up-sex about the dates.

Host: Jon

Okay, well, I'll reserve that ahead of time. I think one of the biggest things having at this event that I am going to miss out, on I did miss last year. I was at Aws re:mars. It was happening at the same time, so I was at re:mars and FinOps X was happening, so I was like, oh, man, I, I'm missing that now. I'm missing it twice. Don't worry. There won't be a third time. I'll reserve the time to come out to you guys. Maybe we'll do some in-person interviews, sit down, do some chalk talks, and have fireside chats. You never know what's going to happen.

Guest: J.R.

That'd be cool, man. Appreciate it. Well, thank you for having us on. It's, it's been serious. I want to give you some kiddos seeing you come out swinging fast out there on social media and covering some great topics and great speakers, and it's been cool to see the work you're doing. So thank you for letting us come on and share some stories.

Host: Jon

Thank you, J.R. I appreciate it.

Guest: Mike

Thanks, Jon. It's been fun. Good, good experience.

Host: Jon

Yeah. So, everybody, today's topic was the FinOps Foundation and FinOps X, emerging tech leaders and FinOps practitioners in the air of mainstream cloud. Joining us, are J.R. Storment, executive director of the FinOps Foundation, and Mike Fuller, CTO of the FinOps Foundation, J.R. Thank you so much for joining me.

Guest: J.R.

Thank you, Jon.

Host: Jon

Mike, thank you so much.

Guest: Mike

Thanks.

Host: Jon

All right, everybody, this has been the Jon Myer podcast. Don't forget to hit that, like subscribe and notify, because we're out of here.