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CloudyCon 2019 ReCap

By Gavin Cahill on September 23, 2019
Missed CloudyCon 2019?
We’ve got you covered with highlights and key takeaways.

CloudyCon, the first conference for FinOps, took place September 10th-12th near San Francisco. Over three days, 250+ FinOps and cloud practitioners came together to improve their skills, learn from the FinOps journeys of others, and take part in the first ever FinOps certification workshop.

It’s impossible to summarize all that FinOps knowledge in one place, but we can at least look at the highlights. And if you weren’t able to attend, then hopefully they can give you some ideas to point you in the right direction.

Special thanks to our sponsors AWS, Cloud Conformity, Google Cloud, SignalFX, Atlassian, PagerDuty, and Edrans!

FinOps Workshop & Certification

Before CloudyCon really kicked off, a whole day was reserved for a FinOps workshop and certification opportunity — the first of its kind. Attendees spent all day going through an in-depth curriculum that included hands-on activities, interactive Q&As, and instruction in best practices.

Delivered in cooperation with the FinOps Foundation, the workshop brought together experienced practitioners and neophytes alike to create a new standard for FinOps.

And by the end of the conference, the first 50 FinOps Certified Practitioners were adding shiny new orange badges to their LinkedIn profiles!

This first workshop represents a major milestone for FinOps, and we’re proud to have partnered with the FinOps Foundation to make it happen!

CloudyCon Day 1

General Session

“In 2020, 80%, 4 out of 5 of you, are going to overshoot your cloud budgets.” — Jarod Greene

Jarod Greene, VP of Product Marketing at Apptio, kicked off the Day 1 general session, setting the stage for the adoption of cloud and the importance of cloud cost management — and FinOps. Building on his experience as a Gartner analyst before joining Apptio, he painted a picture of companies moving to the cloud for greater innovation and efficiency, only to be met costs that go drastically over budget.

“We were talking about cost optimization, but not talking about how cost optimization works within your organization” — Mike Fuller

Mike Fuller is a Principal Systems Engineer with Atlassian, co-founder of the FinOps Foundation and co-author of the upcoming Cloud FinOps book (along with J.R. Storment) published by O’Reilly. One of the premier experts in FinOps, he told the story of FinOps and dug into why it’s vital for cloud infrastructures. He also gave an overview of the FinOps journey, showing how an organization goes from the early days of FinOps through advanced metrics-driven optimization and unit economics.

FinOps has a lot of moving parts, and Mike’s talk set the stage for the next two days of FinOps deep dives.

“We were spending 3x the amount of cloud costs, and finance was knocking on our door asking why.” — Ashley Hromatko

FinOps starts with the first migration of workloads to the cloud, and Ashley Hromatko, FinOps Manager at Pearson, showed us why. Her team has migrated hundreds of applications to the cloud, with plenty more in the queue. For her, a dedicated FinOps team was a natural progression, and she showed how their approach to forecasting allowed them to make strategic, deliberate decisions about workload migration that saw the whole financial picture.

“How do we educate all these (5,000+) people and get FinOps adopted?” — Dustin Bowling, Nationwide

Once you’ve taken the FinOps plunge, how do you spread it throughout the organization? Dustin Bowling, Cloud Optimization Services for Nationwide, walked through their approach. Using a combination of a widespread education effort and a robust tagging structure, they’ve been able to achieve complete allocation of their costs, empower their teams, and save over $2.6 million in annualized costs — all by implementing FinOps.

“Rather than just call out when people mess up, we call them out when they do good.” — Franklin Hanson, USA Today

Empowering engineers and getting them on board is essential for FinOps, but it’s not always as easy as it sounds. In his talk, Franklin Hanson, Director of Platform Engineering at USA Today, went over how he used FinOps to increase visibility with engineers, and, in turn, drive greater accountability with his team. A key part of his strategy is a Wall of Shame to call out people not taking optimization action and, just as importantly, the Wall of Fame to highlight successful actions and give the engineers props.

“What is everyone on that journey trying to accomplish, and how does consistent language help with that?” — Matthew Scott, VP of Strategy & Partnership, Apptio Cloudability

Truth be told, this conversation is nothing new. Before coming to Apptio Cloudability, Matthew Scott worked with AWS in the early days of cloud. He’s been right there during the growth of cloud, and watched as FinOps became more and more vital to cloud architecture. In his role at Apptio Cloudability, he’s worked tirelessly alongside partners like AWS, Google, and Microsoft to help define that language and build out this new practice. With their help, we’re finally getting that unified language and best practices — both of which will be part of the Cloud FinOps book.

“Cost management is about more than cost optimization” — Keith Jarrett, Global Lead Cloud Financial Management, AWS

To show this cooperation in action, Matthew brought up Keith Jarrett from AWS to introduce the six principles of FinOps. We’ll talk a lot more about these principles in the future, but the key part is that they were formulated by the FinOps Foundation working directly with AWS. Based on tried and tested best practices, these principles and AWS’ contributions highlight the importance of FinOps to the future of every cloud architecture.

Keith then invited Stephane Gooch from KPMG up to chat about how FinOps is essential for enabling the enterprise. In her work helping companies build their cloud infrastructure, she’s seen how crazy cloud bills can get. In order to make sense of everything, a FinOp tools is required that brings everything together into a single place with complete visibility. When done correctly, it’s helped her achieve success time and time again.

FinOps Awards

CloudyCon was proud to be part of the first ever FinOps awards, presented by the FinOps Foundation. These went to companies that have demonstrated excellence at each of the FinOps stages — Inform, Optimize, Operate.

Congratulations to all of the winners!

WINNER for Leadership in Cloud Visibility: NATIONWIDE

WINNER for Leadership in Cloud Optimization: SAINSBURY’S

WINNER for Leadership in Cloud Operation: FIDELITY


With three tracks and a total of 10 different FinOps deep dive, there was a lot to learn during the Day 1 Breakouts.

Comcast’s FinOps Journey

Anthony Tambasco, Manager, Cloud Economics at Comcast, led us through Comcast’s FinOps journey, including the problems created by rapid cloud growth and how they solved them with a Cloud Center of Excellence (CCOE) to achieve full cost transparency.

Evolving RI/Commitment Planning Best Practices

James Jackson, Sr. Product Principal, and Vasilio Markanastasakis, Principal, FinOps Practice Management, of Apptio Cloudability gave deep insights into using RIs and Commitments as part of a cloud cost optimization strategy. This interactive, standing-room-only session was packed with insights and best practices.

The Road to FinOps with KPMG

Building on her discussion with Keith Jarrett, Stephanie Gooch of KPMG did a deep dive into how they use FinOps methods to get a better insight into costs, drive culture change, and created a unified billing model.

Automating FinOps: Using Cloudability at Scale

Andrew Midgley, Senior Product Strategist at Apptio Cloudability, helped tackle the issue of scaling a FinOps practice by showing how to best use Apptio Cloudability’s automation to perform actions like starting/shutting down instances, applying tags, and more.

Our Journey with Cloud FinOps

Deloitte cloud experts Eric Lam, Cloud Strategy Senior Manager, and Sridhar Ayala, Cloud Strategist, showed how Deloitte helps clients tackle complex cloud financial issues using a combination of accountability, governance, and purchase strategies to bring entire companies into FinOps alignment.

The Art and Science of Forecasting Your Cloud Spend

The cloud is notoriously difficult to forecast and budget, but Ancestry has used FinOps to figure it out. Ryan Stock, FP&A Analyst, and Jen Hunsaker, Associate Infrastructure Analyst, showed how Ancestry combined their tagging strategy, chargeback, and showback to create accurate forecasts and budgets using Apptio Cloudability.

How to Drive Accountability with a Modern Allocation Model

In a deeper dive that followed up on his general session presentation, Dustin Bowling from Nationwide dug into the specifics of their “no penny left behind” approach to cost allocation, as well as the governance tactics they used to ensure proper tagging for all resources.

Managing risk- How to keep your public cloud environment secure, reliable, cost-effective and high performing in a fast-paced DevOps world

FinOps is only one part of a Well-Architected Framework, and Paul Mansour-Geoffrion, Cloud Solutions Architect for Cloud Conformity, showed how to mesh FinOps into the rest of the DevOps practice using automation to ensure fast, secure, and fully-tracked scaling.

Building a culture of observability in the era of FinOps

Visibility is a crucial pillar of FinOps, but it just as important everywhere in your cloud. In this breakout, Rajesh Ramen, Chief Architect for SingalFx, went over the importance of Observability across your entire cloud with real-time monitoring, giving us that crucial step of integrating FinOps into the greater whole of cloud architecture.

Containers – Optimizing your Kubernetes Workloads

The flexible nature of Containers and Kubernetes also creates the potential for waste by reserving too much capacity for clusters. Apptio Cloudability container experts Casey Doran, Director of Product, and David Arnold, Senior Engineering Manager, walked people through the problems of the space, optimization strategies, and how the Apptio Cloudability can help address these hazards.

CloudyCon Day 2

General Session

“FinOps is the core discipline around cloud financial management.” — Sunny Gupta, Apptio

Apptio CEO and Co-Founder Sunny Gupta kicked of Day 2 with a high-level look forward at the future of IT financial management — and how the combination of Cloudability with Apptio creates the most comprehensive solution the business. As part of his presentation, he brought on Dustin Bowling of Nationwide and Michael Coronado of Southwest Airlines to tell their stories of how Apptio Cloudability has helped them achieve FinOps success. He ended with a look to the future, and how the combination of TBM and FinOps come together to unify the entire organization for complete IT and cloud financial solution

“We don’t do budgets — we monitor trends.” — Anders Hagman, Spotify

However, unifying the entire organization can be tricky if it’s not in terms everyone understands. Fortunately, Anders Hagman, Manager, Technical Procurement at Spotify, had insights that could help. By putting savings in terms of beers, developers, and other metrics engineers can wrap their head around, he’s been able to drive cloud optimization efforts across the team. Most importantly, he stressed the importance of unit economics, such as cost per user or cost per action. When you have the right metrics, you can holistically monitor the health of your business, not just your budget.

“If you’re just starting on FinOps, don’t worry. If you measure things, you will be able to go back to your business and show the value of what you’re doing.” — Michael Coronado, Southwest

In an industry where 80% of your business can come from your website, being able to reliability and efficiently scale your cloud is essential. At Southwest, they’ve achieved this by embracing FinOps, and Michael Coronado, Sr. Analyst – Cloud Platform & Financial Operations, explained how their centralized FinOps team empower their engineering team to innovate while having the right metrics to prove the value of their cloud.

“By empowering and informing, you can change the way an organization works.” — Jennifer Hays, Fidelity
“We will utilize our organization to change the culture.” — Zachary Stitham, Fidelity

Fidelity has a history of being an early-adopter in the investment space, and that includes cloud. Their cloud time is charged with the maxim to get the most value out of every dollar spent in the cloud. It’s a daunting task, especially with the massive number of applications and engineers they have, but Jennifer Hays, FinOps Practice Owner, and Zachary Stitham, VP, Cloud Business Office, walked us through their FinOps cultural change that made it possible.

“There’s no way you can scale fast enough on-prem. You need cloud.” — Dean Nelson, Infrastructure Masons

The general session finished up with a chat between Apptio CMO Chris Pick and Dean Nelson, Founder & CEO of Infrastructure Masons. Over his career, Dean has helped companies like Uber and Ebay build out their infrastructures and data centers. An expert in hardware, he gave some great insights into the technology behind the cloud, and why a combination of TBM and FinOps are essential for every modern business.


CloudyCon finished strong with six breakouts across two tracks that dug into some more advanced concepts, focused on building culture, and gave attendees solid next steps.

Building a FinOps Developer Mindset from Day 1

A company-wide culture is essential for FinOps, but how do you keep that culture when there’s an influx of new hires? James McGinn, CTO of Infinitive, showed us how they instill the FinOps mindset into their team members from day one — and how doing so helps spread the culture of FinOps faster.

Cloud Cost Optimization and Efficiency

Dieter Matzion, Staff Business Systems Analyst for Intuit, led a breakout that gave us a peek into how Intuit, a company that knows a thing or two about finance, tackles cost optimization. A big part of that approach was having clear direction from executive sponsorship, defined KPIs, and automation to help reach KPI goals.

Extending FinOps To Your Hybrid Cloud Environment

With many companies building hybrid cloud solutions, it’s important to know how FinOps fits into your greater system. John Novak, VP of Product Marketing at Apptio, walked us through using Apptio and Cloudability together to bridge the gap between cloud and on-prem.

Metrics Driven Cost Optimization

Cost optimization needs to be done regularly, but how do you know you’re making the right choices? Mike Fuller led this advanced FinOps breakout showing the benefits of basing your optimization decisions and actions entirely based off metrics — along with some good metrics to use.

Cost Management in a Hybrid Cloud World

Anthos and Kubernetes have been changing the development game, but they also create unique struggles for cost management. Matt Leonard, PM Billing at Google, walked us through why we shouldn’t be afraid of using them, and how we can measure costs consistently across environments.

RI Purchase and Management Strategy

Centralized RI purchases are a key part of FinOps, and with good reason. In this breakout, Vasilio Markanastasakis, Principal, FinOps Practice Management of Apptio Cloudability, teamed up with David Van Hoven, Principal Business Analyst, Cloud at HERE Technologies, to show why centralizing RI purchases and management was essential for their success.

What’s Next?

The first CloudyCon was a great success, and it’s only the beginning. More FinOps workshops and certification opportunities are on the horizon, and the community is growing every day. Apply for membership to the FinOps Foundation to join the conversation, and pre-order Cloud FinOps to learn everything you need to take your FinOps journey to the next level.

Thank you again to our incredible speakers and everyone who attended CloudyCon. We’ll see you next year!

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