FinOps for an essential government programme

The client

Airwalk Reply was selected as the lead delivery partner to design‭, ‬build and run a greenfield‭, ‬fully cloud-native digital platform to support the 750‭ ‬users‭ for a central government restoration project.‬

The challenge

The client felt that they were overspending on their cloud resources‭, ‬and that there were more modern‭, ‬less expensive approaches that they could leverage‭. ‬As part of a cost-saving initiative‭, ‬the client wanted to reduce their cloud costs down from‭ ‬£50,000‭ ‬per month to‭ ‬£35,000‭ ‬or below‭. ‬

The aim was to reduce unnecessary cloud expenditure and ensure the organisation’s budget was only spent on what was required‭. ‬Additionally‭, ‬it was felt that broader governance would prevent any overspending ongoing‭. ‬This would free up vital taxpayer funds‭, ‬which could be diverted towards other important projects‭.‬

The solution

Airwalk Reply deployed a team of highly-skilled consultants to‭:‬

  • Gain an initial understanding of the cloud usage‭, ‬subscriptions and the associated costs
  • Set up automated anomaly detection within Azure to highlight if an error was triggering any subscription to overshoot its daily‭ ‬average cost‭. ‬This meant that Airwalk Reply was quickly notified and could therefore remediate to minimise any additional spend‭ ‬incurred
  • Set up governance‭ ‬‮–‬‭ ‬detailed reporting to track progress and a decision making forum with clear roles and responsibilities‭. ‬Reporting covered the monthly usage and analysis of usage and reduction or increases
  • Optimise cloud platform service logs to prevent high volume and unnecessary data from incurring costs on the monitoring platform
  • Look for further optimisation opportunities‭, ‬including‭:‬
  • Automated removal of orphaned and temporary resources
  • Removal of unused subscriptions
  • Out-of-hours power down and power up were explored across apps
  • Reserving capacity was explored with the client‭; ‬negotiating capacity with the cloud service provider‭ ‬ for a fixed period of time‭, ‬usually coming at a discount
  • Resizing of underutilised resources
  • Auto scaling and scaling to zero were explored and implemented where possible

The risks and complexity were weighed up for each of these items and discussed with the decision-making forum before implementation‭. ‬Airwalk Reply also recommended the decommission of some services which were not being used‭, ‬applying pressure and rationale‭ ‬within the business to ensure that the decommission would be completed swiftly‭.‬

Additionally‭, ‬Airwalk Reply assessed user requirements and rationalised Azure DevOps licenses and role allocations to reflect these requirements‭, ‬which incited further cost savings‭.‬

The outcome

In a 3-month period‭, ‬Airwalk Reply was able to significantly reduce cloud costs from‭ ‬£50,000‭ ‬down to‭ ‬£34,000‭ ‬per month (a 32% saving)‭, ‬achieving the target set by the client‭. ‬These costs have remained stable‭, ‬and are tracking month-on-month at below the forecasted rate‭. ‬Any anomalies are detected and quickly resolved‭. ‬A governance forum has also been implemented‭, ‬with key parties available as required to drive decisions or discuss anything regarding cost or optimisation‭.‬

Additionally‭, ‬has now increased their knowledge on FinOps as a whole‭, ‬as well as gaining a better understanding organisation-wide‭ ‬of the importance of managing cloud costs‭. ‬The significant cost savings can now be used to fund other vital projects‭.‬

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