A FinOps conversation with Catherine Zhang

17 October 2023
4 minute read
Best practice

A FinOps conversation with Catherine Zhang

17 October 2023
4 minute read

Last week I had the opportunity to speak with Catherine Zhang, Senior Manager of Cloud Optimisation at Commonwealth Bank in Australia. As a FinOps specialist, Catherine will be presenting the “FinOps/ITAM converge” session at this year’s Wisdom APAC 2023, where she will share her experience of optimising cloud resources and leveraging generative AI into her workday.

The convergence of FinOps and ITAM

Do you think we will see a convergence of FinOps and ITAM over time?

“While both disciplines have their own focus due to their respective histories, they are ultimately doing the same thing – trying to maximise their investment in a piece of technology (be it hardware/software in SAM and cloud spend in FinOps). This is where I see the fundamental points where the two could converge.

As FinOps evolves it is now starting to move into areas in which SAM has been dominant. Given the type of cloud spend FinOps manages, there was traditionally a lot of focus on cloud infrastructure (specifically IaaS), but going forward there will be a bigger focus on SaaS and software in general. This is where FinOps will seek the software expertise of SAM.

FinOps practitioners currently don’t have the skillset to manage software at the level of maturity of SAM. They tend to have a more financial background. SAM people have a natural advantage here and can help. This will take time. SAM has taken years to get to where it is, but working with SAM I can see FinOps getting there faster.”

ITAM needs better PR… but FinOps needs a better name…

“FinOps is not the most helpful term to describe what it is. When I tell people I work in FinOps most people think I work in finance.

However, FinOps has done a much better job of articulating its value proposition than ITAM/SAM has ever done. In my opinion SAM still focuses too much on compliance – it focuses too much on the negative drivers (i.e. the stick) without creating a more positive message around savings (the carrot). FinOps on the other hand has had better messaging from the outset – it has always focused on cost savings, which is a much more positive message to take to the business.”

How will generative AI shape the future of these converging disciplines?

“There’s a lot of natural language AI in the cloud space already, so it was not a big leap for me to incorporate AI systems like ChatGPT into my work. But you’ll need to attend my talk at Wisdom APAC to hear more about how I have used AI to improve my FinOps delivery, particularly when it comes to working with developers and business stakeholders.”

You can hear more from Catherine during her “FinOps/ITAM converge” session on Wednesday, Nov 15  at 02:20 PM. Be sure to register for Wisdom APAC 2023 on the official site.

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