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Shifting Left with FinOps: A Developer-Centric Approach to Managing Azure Costs

As organizations continue adopting cloud computing, managing costs in the cloud has become a significant concern. In this Azure on Air podcast, host Lex talks to Michiel, an Azure cost optimization specialist from Xpirit, about how developers play a crucial role in optimizing cloud costs through FinOps.

What is FinOps?

FinOps refers to practices and cultures focused on operationalizing cloud cost management through cross-functional collaboration and accountability. The key principles of FinOps include cost visibility, accountability, and optimization.

Why Developer Involvement Matters

Michiel explains that while finance teams get cloud bills, they often need more context on what organizations pay for. On the other hand, developers know what resources they use but have limited visibility into costs. Bridging this gap requires making developers cost-aware and incentivizing efficiency.

Small teams moving to the cloud often need more governance, so they don’t overspend. Large enterprises focus heavily on control at the expense of innovation. Developer autonomy, balanced with some oversight and cost transparency, is crucial in balancing cost control.

Tools like cloud pricing calculators help model cost implications of design choices pre-deployment. Infrastructure-as-code analysis during CI/CD also fosters cost awareness by exposing spending early.

Shifting Left with FinOps

FinOps promotes optimizing cloud costs early, often during CI/CD. For example, tagging resources properly during provisioning facilitates accurate cost allocation and reporting.

Developers must also right-size deployments, leverage reserved instances and spot instances, and optimize data storage costs. Turning off non-production resources when possible, saves significantly. Making developers responsible for production costs also prevents overprovisioning and waste.

Gaining Developer Buy-In

Showing developer teams their allocated cloud spending monthly drives accountability and awareness. Making sustainable engineering part of culture motivates efficiency.

Developers care about velocity and innovation, so framing good FinOps practices in those terms resonates better. For example, highlighting how optimized systems deploy faster helps sell the value.

Bridging the Finance-Engineering Gap

A balanced approach is needed where developers have flexibility, some oversight, and transparency into costs — tools like Serverless360 aggregate usage data across environments to enable show back reporting and identify anomalies.

This gives teams visibility into their allocated spend and incentives to optimize.

  • Cross-functional collaboration between finance, operations and development is key to balancing cloud agility and control.
  • Tools that provide cost visibility before deployment help developers make informed trade-offs.
  • Developer mindset shift from pure functionality focus to ownership of production costs drives large efficiency gains.
  • Sell FinOps as an acceleration and innovation enabler to motivate developer adoption.

By making developers partners in cloud cost management rather than policing spend, enterprises can drive real accountability and material savings. This culture shift does take work but pays out in the long run.