A close-up of Noel Crowley of Fidelity Investments smiling at the camera with the ocean in the background at sunset.
Noel Crowley. Image: Fidelity Investments

What does a cloud FinOps technologist do?

1 Jun 2021

Fidelity Investments’ Noel Crowley discusses the value of financial operations when it comes to reducing cloud spend.

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According to Gartner, worldwide spending on public cloud services is expected to reach more than $332bn this year, an increase of more than 23pc from 2020.

But as cloud spending increases, cloud FinOps (financial operations) professionals are becoming increasingly important to ensure cloud spend within companies is optimised.

In his role as a cloud FinOps technologist at Fidelity Investments, Noel Crowley is responsible for ongoing cloud platform cost optimisation. He works with business groups and development teams across the company to provide analysis, recommendations and optimisation actions for cloud activities.

Here, he discusses his work, the skills he uses and how his role has evolved from simply checking that a cloud usage bill was correct to actually analysing ways to optimise the value of the cloud spend.

‘In my FinOps role, concentration and attention to detail are important’

If there is such a thing, can you describe a typical day in the job?

I honestly don’t think there is a typical day for my job, but in saying that I think there are some things that I do on regular basis.

I work across all of Fidelity to assist business partners in understanding their current cloud spend and I coach them in managing their cloud spend.

I educate them in the new responsibilities that cloud migration has brought to every user of the cloud, specifically that of financial responsibility for their cloud usage.

What kind of projects do you work on?

The projects I work on can vary from time to time. A large amount of my time is spent analysing the different ways teams within Fidelity use the cloud, looking for patterns to see if there are opportunities to reduce cloud spend.

When doing this, I always ensure I am not just reducing cost for the sake of it, there must always be an understanding that the business value should be the driver of any cloud cost decision.

The other major part is keeping a very close eye on what the major cloud service providers are doing and what services they are releasing and investigating if these might be a good fit for Fidelity application.

My favourite type of project is when I need to work with application teams to educate them in the ways of FinOps and help them to learn how they are finding ways to reduce their current cloud spend and reinvest their saving into improving their applications.

What skills do you use on a daily basis?

I would need to regularly use my interpersonal and communication skills to try and educate users of the cloud on how they are using the various services. I used to be a very technical person before I migrated into FinOps, and thankfully having a very strong understanding of how cloud services work with each other helps me in this part of my role.

What is the hardest part of your working day?

Helping people who are not familiar with cloud optimisation to best utilise their spend and [highlighting] the benefits that offers the business and their own team.

Do you have any productivity tips that help you through the working day?

If you can do it now, do it. When I need to do a task, I will turn off my email and internal communications tools and just get it done.

I used to always try to multitask, but I have learned that it never works for me. In my FinOps role, concentration and attention to detail are important. I manage my time accordingly.

When you first started this job, what were you most surprised to learn was important in the role?

I was surprised to learn how adopting use of impactful presentations can deliver effective communication to any audience.

How has this role changed as the cloud sector has grown and evolved?

The FinOps role has changed dramatically over the last few years. Like many people who work in the FinOps role, I started by just ensuring that the cloud usage bill was correct and paid on time. As we used the cloud more and more, I began to analysing our usage to find ways to optimise our value.

What do you enjoy most about the job? 

Saving money – I mean, who doesn’t like saving money! This is the best outcome of my role. I can work with a team whose cloud spend is climbing at a high rate. After we analyse their spend, we can find some areas to reduce cost. Once we incorporate the changes to the project, seeing the outcome occur quickly is one of the most enjoyable things.

The only thing better than helping a team is when that team no longer needs me, having educated them in the ways of FinOps, and then the development team taking on the ownership of their cost is a great feeling.

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