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Wall Street and Silicon Valley Looking for Cloud Cost FinOps Pros

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  • Companies are paying more attention to how much they’re spending on cloud computing.
  • That means banks, retailers, and pharmas are increasingly looking for ‘FinOps’ cloud finance experts.
  • But not everyone thinks it’ll last — managing IT cost may eventually become part of existing jobs.

The amount of money that companies are spending in the cloud is inching higher than ever, and more are reaching a “spend panic moment,” as expert J.R. Storment puts it. He says that moment when companies get their first eye-popping cloud bill, sometimes in the millions, is when they call in the pros.

Storment is executive director of the FinOps Foundation, an open source foundation housed out of the nonprofit Linux Foundation, which aims to arm companies with best practices so they can get more value out of their cloud technologies, including managing what they spend on it to ultimately drive more revenue, Storment says.

But it’s also fast becoming a dedicated profession, with a certification and classes from the Foundation that IT professionals can pursue. “If somebody puts FinOps on their LinkedIn profile, they will get recruited continuously,” Rich Hoyer, a FinOps expert at cloud consulting firm SADA, recently told Insider.

Indeed, it’s not just Silicon Valley companies like Box that have started hiring for the role — banks and financial services firms such as Citi, JPMorgan, and Fidelity Investments, retailers like Publix and Levi’s, and pharmaceutical giant Regeneron all have open jobs for cloud spend analysts or FinOps specialists.

Chris Aniszczyk, chief technology officer of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), says that similarly, cybersecurity experts weren’t as common among companies two decades ago. Now, FinOps is reaching the same point where there’s budding demand for such pros: “This is now a practice that is core to an organization,” he told Insider.

Even with signs the pandemic-driven rush to the cloud is slowing, companies are still putting more IT dollars in Amazon’s, Microsoft’s, or Google’s clouds: spending $42 billion on cloud infrastructure in the second quarter, according to Synergy Research. Big customers like Airbnb or Snap have signed tens or hundreds of millions in huge cloud deals.

All that money means there’s also more attention being paid to the benefits companies are — or aren’t — getting out of their investments. $2.2 billion data company Sumo Logic, for example, already has a team dedicated to slashing its Amazon cloud costs.

Still, not everyone agrees that FinOps is a sustainable career path — while cloud cost management skills are undeniably in high demand, some argue that the future of the field won’t be restricted to a single job title or a role. Instead, they argue, FinOps will become a skill that’s integrated within existing engineering or finance and business analyst roles. 

“I think people think about FinOps as sometimes a role or mindset, I’m closer to it’s a mindset,” said Travis Rehl, vice president of product at CloudCheckr. “I think it’s a responsibility of the team, the scrum team or sprint team responsible for the workload.”

And Aniszczyk says engineers will one day have the tools and education to build cost consciousness into their development work – which is crucial because they hold the keys to a company’s IT infrastructure.

“Eventually, I think for the FinOps cloud financial world, developers will have tools that meet them where they are, left of the development cycle, and maybe say, ‘If you’re going to make this change, it’s going to cost you a s—ton of money,” he said.

In the meantime, the growth of the FinOps Foundation indicates there’s plenty of interest in the skillset, and demand among customers hitting their “spend panic moment.”

“In the next couple of years, we’ll be certifying organizations to be FinOps compliant,” Storment said. “A Fidelity or whatever big, major enterprise, how can they align their practices to make sure they’re doing the right things and benchmark against the community.”

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