CIO Fireside Chat Recap: Cloud & FinOps
By Mario Brum, VP of Practice Area and Technical Advisory Services
Mario hosted the second in GreenPages’ ongoing series of CIO Fireside Chats discussing how an industry-leading retail technology company partnered with GreenPages to use FinOps for optimizing the company’s cloud costs.
I talked with Morris Caen, Chief Technology Officer at Retail Control Systems (RCS) and Tony Perfilio, Cloud Service Provider Director at GreenPages, for our quarterly livestream highlighting real-world success stories of top IT decision makers. During our chat, Morris and Tony went over the interesting details of how RCS was able to reduce their cloud spending by an incredible 36% using GreenPages FinOps during and after a major cloud migration.
Increasing transparency into corporate cloud spending with FinOps
Optimizing IT spending without sacrificing security is a hot topic in the C-suite these days. Economic instabilities are causing many companies to scrutinize their cloud IT costs. CEOs and corporate boards are asking CFOs and CIOs to show the return on investment for the various cloud-based IT infrastructure and software applications that are so crucial to enabling employee productivity. Maybe this is a little simplistic, but I’ve observed from some customers that their finance teams complain about the IT teams constantly wanting more money for cloud because IT doesn’t understand COGS and P&L… while the IT teams are complaining that the finance teams are being stingy because finance doesn’t understand bandwidth and data architecture.
This is where a cloud FinOps solution can help. Cloud FinOps is a way of managing cloud costs that aligns technology, finance, and business goals. It helps you optimize your cloud investment by empowering the company’s engineering, finance, technology and business teams to work together on data-driven spending decisions. With a cloud FinOps solution in place, the business leaders in the C-suite will:
- Maximize profitability by reducing waste and optimizing cloud spending with cloud FinOps, which provides cost efficiency and visibility.
- Make informed decisions that align with business goals through data-driven collaboration and shared responsibility for cloud costs across IT, DevOps, and other cross-functional teams.
- Improve transparency and accountability by reporting and justifying cloud spending with a common language and framework provided by a FinOps solution, improving communication between IT, finance, and other key stakeholders.
How FinOps as a service helps businesses gain value, ROI from the cloud
One important thing that CIOs and CFOs should keep in mind about FinOps is that it is not a product. You don’t “buy a FinOps” from a store, plug it in, and magically you’re saving money. Think of FinOps as a strategic and cultural change that enables an organization to achieve more business value from your cloud transformation.
While it’s true that FinOps is not a product per se, it can be delivered “as a service” to organizations who don’t want to embark on what might be a radical shift in their business processes. That’s why Morris at RCS partnered with GreenPages to implement FinOps during their cloud migration. RCS specializes in retail management software and hardware solutions and is a major supplier of integrated point of sale systems (POS) to thousands of shops.
Migrating hosted apps to the public cloud improves quality of service for customers
During the CIO Fireside Chat, Morris outlined how in 2019 RCS began migrating their extensive IT systems hosted in a co-located data center to the Microsoft Azure cloud. “There were several things that drove our decision-making process,” Morris said. “We had some hardware that was coming up to the end of its support lifecycle, so we had to explore what our options were before spending on that big capital investment.”
According to Morris, that exploration into other options led to considering how a cloud migration would improve RCS’s quality of service for their customers around the country. “We wanted to look for options that would allow us to have different points of presence,” Morris said. Because the Microsoft Azure cloud is highly scalable, it became clear that RCS could host their POS services in the cloud using the Azure geographies that best served the cities and towns where their customers’ stores were physically located.
Tony Perfilio noted that RCS’s reasons were not dissimilar to the conclusions many other GreenPages customers arrive at when it comes to a cloud migration. “A cloud migration from a data center is usually about quality, speed, and price.” Tony said. “We see a lot of those attributes can be improved upon by going to public cloud versus some of the limitations of hosting apps and services in a co-located datacenter.”
GreenPages FinOps helped RCS optimize their cloud costs
When Morris and his team at RCS began working with Tony and the GreenPages team, most of their time was spent on financial modeling of their cloud migration. “We went through easily dozens, possibly hundreds of models,” Morris said. “GreenPages FinOps helped us see what our cloud expenditures would look like. We could compare to what we had been doing, we went through the pros and cons of both the technology and the costs, right? Moving to the cloud sounds great but not if it’s going to cost us ten times what we pay now.”
FinOps for RCS extended beyond their migration to the cloud. Morris continues to work with Tony and the GreenPages FinOps team for monthly check-in meetings on how best to optimize cloud costs for RCS. “We were able to leverage GreenPages’ FinOps experience and get a lot of best practices without having to go through the pains of learning the lessons ourselves. It’s a partnership where I can ask GreenPages ‘this is what we’re thinking of doing—does it make sense?’ GreenPages’ experts look at it and say ‘you may want to think about the ramifications because you do this now and in six months to a year, you’ll have this impact. You’re better off spending more here…’ It’s extremely helpful for us.”
Just like for Morris and RCS, the goal of optimizing cloud costs was the top concern for most of our audience at the CIO Fireside Chat. We polled our audience on their concerns related to a cloud migration and found:
“I can’t overstate the importance of the FinOps cloud cost modeling tools GreenPages provides,” Morris said during our CIO Fireside Chat. “If we don’t understand our costs, we can’t be successful. And without those models we would not be able to understand our cost to the degree of accuracy that we do now.”
As the CIO Fireside Chat wrapped up, I asked Morris for his perspective on the value of FinOps to a C-suite executive looking to maximize their cloud budgets in uncertain economic times. “To me, GreenPages helps us more than just with the financial piece” he said. “They help us navigate our way through cloud without having to do hours and hours of research to see what new cloud features are coming and how will they potentially benefit us and our customers.”
GreenPages continues to share more insights from top business executives
I want to thank Morris Caen, CTO at Retail Control Systems, for his valuable insights. If you want to learn more about how GreenPages can help you implement FinOps best practices and tools in your organization, please contact us today. Tony Perfilio and his team of certified cloud experts will guide you through every step of your cloud journey.
Don’t miss our next CIO Fireside Chat scheduled for August 31, 2023 and please connect with GreenPages now and let us help you achieve cloud excellence.