We’re taking a moment to highlight one of our own FinOps Foundation members in a series of interview posts. This series aims to highlight our community members so we can learn a bit more from their perspectives.
Arnaud Alcabez is the Director of Cloud Computing Training for Global Knowledge France, a certified AWS instructor, and a member of the FinOps Foundation. Arnaud answered a few questions about his FinOps and cloud finance management journey. Here are a few insightful answers that might help members both new and experienced.
Tell us who you are and what you do
I’m Arnaud Alcabez, Director of Cloud Computing Training for Global Knowledge France. I’ve also been an AWS Certified Instructor for six years. Whether as part of training for architects, developers or administrators, my job is to build more control around understanding cloud finance and billing.
What was your path to this kind of career?
Being often prompted by customer questions, I had to seek out reliable and vendor agnostic sources. This is how, by chance, I personally discovered the FinOps Foundation back in June 2019. The community’s neutrality, richness, variety of profiles (clients or professionals), and a balanced approach between profession, technique and finance, was exactly what I was looking for.
The prospect of evolving my understanding of FinOps to better serve my customers and clients took me down this path.
What does success look like in your role?
A personal victory comes to mind. Coming from the world of technology, training and tech leadership, I was in a situation of failure to be able to communicate face to face with a buyer, a financial controller, or a CFO.
Speaking with many peers from different worlds through the foundation allowed me to quickly learn from the experiences of my peers.
Being located in France, the market is not at the same stage of development as the United States. The experience, feedback, and practices acquired by member perspectives from the United States (currently the market leader in FinOps) makes it possible to anticipate and implement the indicators upstream back in France, which is more reassuring for customers.
Do you have a “favorite failure” and what did you learn from it?
Yes. A rollback from AWS Lambda to EC2 comes to mind. AWS Lambda had just been released and at the request of a customer, and I built an application that proved to be “too innovative.”
Not technically innovative, but the company was not in a position to charge back consumption, because their model was to charge back a fixed cost.
Exposure to cloud financial management for serverless services allowed me to gain strong FinOps experience ahead of time. Before choosing the services I was going to use to design the solution, I was now interested in understanding its internal chargeback model. I’ve learned that the best technology isn’t necessarily the best solution.
Where have you had the most success?
The first success was to pass the FinOps Certified Practitioner (FOCP) certification almost a year ago. Lately, I see success in watching the practice develop in France and see the community grow all over the world.
What have you found is the most effective way to get teams to take action on improving cost efficiency?
Breaking the silos between technology, business, and finance is an effective starting point. Identifying common objectives, and learning common terms for all teams (IT, Business, Finance) helps get teams onto commonly shared ground. Also, sharing the same tools, and giving the same cloud financial visibility to everyone goes a long way toward improving cost efficiency.
What is one thing you wish you could go back to the beginning of your journey and do differently?
I don’t really have an answer to that. Instead, I want everyone to just fully experience their failure and learn from one another. Everyone’s journey never ends and we’re constantly learning. Failure improves the experience, especially when those stories are shared.
In 2009, Cassandra Phillipps founded FailCon, a one-day conference in San Francisco celebrating failure. I loved it because we learned a lot there.
How do you evangelize your work internally?
I am a big fan of visual notes, like those by Jerry Hargrove (https://www.awsgeek.com/) and I use a lot of posters with open discussion, like this one:
Which cloud finance management tools do you use and for what?
Wherever possible, I use the built-in tools, dashboards, and python scripts. There are three reasons for this: As I said, whatever our function, we must use the same tools to break the silos. How can I claim to save money if my first instinct to solve it is to buy new software? Finally, because I prefer the loosely-coupling and the simplicity that managed services offer.
What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student interested in this area?
Experiment! Do not listen to those who say “we have always done like that.” To do “as before”– the cloud financial management is always changing and one needs to be constantly learning its best practices.
In any job, put respect, diversity of cultures, and the world environment before money, or, save money to save the planet.
What are some books that have greatly influenced your practice?
- Ahead in the Cloud, Steven Orban
- Cloud Design Patterns, Microsoft (free download)
- Mental Model Processes (I used a French version)
- Mastering AWS Cost Optimization, Eli Mansoor and Yair Green
- And Cloud FinOps, J.R. Storment and Mike Fuller
Inspiring more people to learn about FinOps
We thank Arnaud for taking the time to answer our questions and provide insight into his director-level role, its obligations, and how he implements FinOps best practices and tracks its success in his region.
Connect with Arnaud in the FinOps Community Slack if you have more questions. If you’re interested in highlighting your story, it’s really easy. Make a copy of this template, fill it out, and share it back to us in Slack.
Keep on breaking down those silos!