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Key Takeaways from the 2024 State of FinOps Survey

Tatum Tummins

5 min read

Last updated on March 8th, 2024 at 6:10pm

Courtesy of the FinOps Foundation

The FinOps Foundation’s annual “State of FinOps” survey not only highlights talking points for the coming year and practitioner focus, but it can also influence the roadmap for vendors.

As a former practitioner, I know this survey often represented my priorities and challenges well, and now that I am at Kion, it’s great to see how our current product and long-term vision align to these priorities, while also highlighting areas we need to continue evolving to meet practitioners where they are in their journey.

Here are the stand out items of the 2024 survey:

  • Reducing waste or unused resources being the top priority makes sense, and I’d expect it to stay near the top for years to come. The cloud can be a challenge to manage in a cost effective manner, and the realization that there is almost always cloud usage running that’s driving zero business value is a frustrating concept for any organization. What I find interesting is there is an abundance of attention, education, and tooling around identifying the various types of waste a company needs to overcome, and many tools in the market make it incredibly easy to identify areas of possible waste. However, awareness into the possible waste isn’t enough to alleviate this pain.

    FinOps tooling needs to continue to evolve to not only make users aware of the waste, but make them confident that it is in fact waste, while making it easy for them to do something about it. It can be overwhelming for practitioners to see countless opportunities to delete or rightsize a resource. They need help knowing what’s actionable today. It is still far too common for a practitioner to chase down a rightsizing opportunity, only to learn it isn’t actionable.

    Awareness, confidence, and the ability to easily take action is the trifecta to solving this pain for practitioners and their organizations. I hope to see tools (Kion included) continue to make this easier.

  • Empowering engineers to take action is no longer in the top spot after three straight years. So, what changed? In my opinion, the other priorities in the top five didn’t necessarily get more important. Instead, this task has become easier.

    I’ve seen some comments in the community that the increase in automation is the culprit. Although I am sure automation has had an impact with better auto-detection of opportunities, the number of practitioners reporting true automation is relatively low. This leads me to believe awareness and expectation of FinOps is actually the biggest reason this priority has reduced.

    As the overall awareness of FinOps increases, the prior challenge of empowering teams to take action gets easier. The accountability and expectations of engineering teams has expanded, and the days of engineers not caring about cost decisions or a lack of prioritizing actions for savings will dwindle more and more over time as FinOps continues to grow into the culture of how organizations operate. It’s becoming a required part of the job description, not just a nice to have.

  • Speaking of automation… I was surprised to see such a significant amount of practitioners report “No Automation” for a few key activities. In my opinion, this is an area that will significantly decrease over the next year. Automation is already a priority for practitioners, but there is still plenty of room to grow. Full automation is not something I think is obtainable or realistic across all activities for most organizations, but as organizations mature their FinOps practices and tooling evolves, I believe we will see Automation + Human Interaction grow even further.

    The cloud is too complex to manage without automation, and I hope to see “No Automation” reduce significantly in the coming years. I also think the awareness of activities that can be automated will expand for practitioners. When I hear practitioners refer to automation, they often think of just anomaly detection or removing waste, but automation has a place across activities such as chargeback processes, budgeting, and many more.

  • Organizational alignment & leadership buy-in of FinOps are still key challenges to overcome, and I think there is still a gap in making more leaders realize there is more to FinOps than just reducing spend. FinOps connects to all the pieces that make a successful IT organization run well, and some of those intangible intersection points (such as better forecasting practices with finance or how you govern your cloud with policies) lead to making organizations run better, ultimately increasing the business value of the cloud.

    When I see that the top priorities are centered around cost reduction, such as waste reduction and commitment discounts, while executive buy-in remains a challenge, it indicates that there’s still more work to be done in demonstrating the comprehensive value of FinOps. It’s not merely an optional component of your cloud operations; rather, it’s a critical investment that you can’t afford to overlook.

Courtesy of the FinOps Foundation

  • Budgets and forecasting is going to continue to grow in the conversation for two reasons:
  1. It’s really hard to do this well and there is still a gap in the available offerings. In my opinion, most of the forecasting tools in the market are more shiny than they are useful.

  2. Because it can be difficult to execute well, it becomes a more widely shared pain across FinOps teams, finance, and business leaders when forecasts and budgets are consistently off-plan. Leaders always see when budgets are being exceeded, but they don’t always see when waste could have been avoided.

    1. This will continue to grow in priority, and we will see budgets become more accessible and visible to engineering teams. There has always been an emphasis on showing teams the spend they’re accountable for, but often the associated budget or forecast doesn’t accompany that data for a full picture. I believe those days are in the past, and financial planning will continue to grow into a full team effort.

These are my key observations from this year’s survey, but I encourage everyone to read the summary posted by the FinOps Foundation to learn more about other trends I did not address. It’s clear that in the coming year, there will be an evolution of the FinOps discourse, particularly regarding emerging factors such as AI/ML and Sustainability, which will influence practitioners’ decision-making and cost management strategies. I remain enthusiastic about ongoing interactions with our customers and practitioners in the community as we overcome these challenges together.

About the Author

Tatum Tummins

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