Ankur Mandal

March 11, 2024

Why today's FinOps tools

are not enough to

solve cloud storage costs


Ankur Mandal

5 min read
March 11, 2024

For businesses, large or small, cloud bill shock becomes an increasing challenge as their footprint grows. As with the advantages of cloud computing comes the challenges of cost management.

This warranted the need for a more structured and collaborative approach to using cloud resources. And this paradigm shift is where FinOps comes in. The goal is to optimize cloud costs by enabling ownership and accountability of every cloud resource.

Today, let’s take a look at this evolving branch and review the FinOps tools required to optimize cloud storage.

What does it mean by FinOps tools?

Software tools are an important asset for FinOps groups to understand cloud spending, and demand, and correlate the same with optimized usage. And although traditional cloud cost management platforms can serve a similar role, ideal FinOps tools are built for a more cross-functional role catering to finance, engineering and other major stakeholders. Their purpose evolves from a mere cost reporting function, to include alerting, monitoring, and proactive actionable recommendations.

The shortcomings of the FinOps tools for Cloud Storage

According to a HashiCorp - Forrester report, 94% of enterprises overspend in the cloud, even if they don’t always know it. And based on our discussions, 9 out of 10 enterprises don’t measure their cloud storage utilization, essential for understanding your storage spend.

What is Cloud storage utilization?

It is the metric that defines the amount of data stored in each of your cloud storage resources, against its provisioned limit.

This made us wonder. Where Compute resources are the “talk of the town” with FinOps professionals, Cloud storage isn’t as much so. Even if they constitute 15-20% of the cloud bills, Cloud storage is often ignored when it comes to cost optimization.

And upon further research with our enterprise clients, the culprit was rather evident. The same FinOps tools that are considered key for compute optimization, fail against cloud storage. 

The reasons for failure lie within its inherent characteristics and how it pertains to Cloud storage.

  • Lack of automation: Today’s FinOps tools heavily rely on manual engineering efforts to implement cost optimization recommendations. This can be error prone, and time-consuming and thus, eliminates any development ROI borne out of the optimization exercise. 

  • Lack of integration across cloud providers: Enterprises typically use a range of CSPs + 3rd party tools such as Datadog for monitoring. With a complicated multi-cloud architecture,  it is important for the FinOps tool to be able to integrate easily with the CSPs and additional tools. And without this, it is not able to provide an accurate picture of your storage cost savings distributed across platforms. 

  • Limited view of storage types: FinOps tools that do not identify different storage types or classes may not be able to accurately track / manage costs.
    For instance, AWS offers various storage classes such as S3,  EFS (Elastic file system), and EBS (Elastic Block Storage) for different data access and retrieval requirements.  Likewise, Microsoft Azure offers different types of storage classes such as Blob storage, Queue storage and File storage. Each of these different classes has different performance characteristics and pricing. A FinOps tool that cannot identify these different types of storage may not be able to provide visibility or recommend appropriate cost optimization strategies. 

  • Lack of complete visibility: One of the primary challenges is the lack of visibility borne out of implementation costs. The majority of third-party tools carry a broader functionality compared to cloud-native FinOps tools. But that comes with a hefty price tag. As a result, FinOps professionals resort to a partial deployment across only live or production environments. And in doing so, we miss visibility across a major chunk of the storage wastage across the rest of the workloads.

Final words

When choosing a FinOps tool for cloud storage optimization, the first step would be to understand your storage health, i,e, your disk utilization. Even though today's FinOps tools might not be efficient, finding your disk utilization is not impossible. 

In the market today, there are various FinOps tools, native and third-party, which have robust and proven cost optimization solutions. In the future series of blogs, we will continue to take a deeper look into each of these tools and how you can utilize them for cloud storage optimization.

Stay tuned for more.

You may also like!