Cloud Native reading list

Two recent books on my reading list:

Cloud FinOps book by the people at FinOps.org, by J.R. Storment, Mike Fuller

Cloud Native Transformation by the folks at Container Solutions, by Pini Reznik; Michelle Gienow; Jamie Dobson

You'll probably notice I didn't put the authors names first. Books have always been a great marketing tool for the organizations to show the world their contribution to the collective thought process. A way of showing their thought leadership. Nothing new here and both books have great content as a fair trade for your attention. Both books are published by O'Reilly who take on the responsibility to make sure quality content is delivered to their readers.

Take-a-ways

The FinOps book is a great collection of observations on changing of IT financial operations and control. This subject was in need of some attention as this is underestimated as a success factor in most organizations. The root cause lays in the distance between financial control departments and the engineering part of most companies. The gap between the two groups of professionals has grown considerably over the past few years. Changes affecting workflow of software development are less based blueprint project plans and estimates, but on effort, where production of smaller chunks of working are mostly measured based on direct accountable labor costs. Less predictable in this newer way of working however is the growing pay-per-use resource utilization, most explicit in a cloud based pay-as-you-go model. Both these aspects need shorter control cycles, more (again faster) insight into effects on P&L of a business service or department. This book is relevant and a compelling read because of the amount of community derived cases. Also the methods proposed in this FinOps book are not too heavy handed, a good mix of best practices, with simple steering methods to go from crawl, walk to run, tailored to a PDCA-like, iterative approach.

The Container Solutions book is focusing on the organization part of a changing software development and digital transformation approach. What it does very well is introducing patterns to discuss the aspects of a transformation which builds upon a cloud native approach. I hope the patterns remain at this level of usefulness. As all patterns are inherently an abstract they should not strive for completeness, but for usability. Also the strong role architecture should play in such an effort is welcoming. As architecture received a very bad rap in the beginning of cloud native and DevOps rise to stardom. Fed by misguided statements such as "we don't need architects, just full-stack software developers" by companies like ING (who are now trying to get architects back into the company which they shunned away until two years back..).

One thing missing in the Container Solutions book is the role of financial control and insight needed in any real world transformation effort. This is partially due to the cloud native transformation focus on ways-of-working and tools, instead of a business case and investment driven approach. They do mention the business case as pattern, but shy away from actually measuring outcome and using it as way to confirm the transformation course. From my own experience I know this is caused by the fact that IT consultancy customers tend to still be confined to IT departments, but that's a topic of different blog post. My point is that if we want to be truly part of business transformation, cloud native has to be strongly coupled with business goals, forecast and insights. For this we need better financial management in cloud native, this includes a look at financial risks and impact.

In their approach to the book subject, the Container Solutions team proofs that financial control is underestimated as a factor for transformational success. There's not even a paragraph on financial control or financial management of the transformation efforts, so how does a customer measure the impact of their transformation effort? Features equals revenue is the ongoing mantra so teams are only managed on throughput and deadlines. This is in part the weakness when an IT consultancy firm puts their practice onto paper, they are most of the times not responsible for governance or financial control.

The IT departments or Product Owners in enterprises lack real-world or real-time control of IT. Excel is still the go-to tool for reporting, but only looking backwards. To create the insights for the stakeholders in digital or cloud native transformations, you need to be able to publish financial data on a real-time basis, with forecast possibilities and targets for discounts or usage control of cloud spend.

The FinOps book tends to sometimes be on the more anecdotal side, but in its defense, looks to be based on real-world experience of the community members. I hope this community driven approach will grow, although some approaches with the closed of member section seemed not very inviting. There are no restructions on becomming a member so it is a small hurdle and not a paywall sort of restriction.    

In conclusion

Both books are worth the read, if you have an O'Reilly subscription I'd put them on your shortlist for reading up on financial control and transformation, here's a link to this blogs playlist (https://learning.oreilly.com/playlists/2009637d-853e-4647-aa43-3f2140a35f13). Both books combined are complementing each other very well, which is useful in an organization effort where financial control and transformation should go hand-in-hand for best results. Next on my reading list will be the organization part of agile organizations: Team Topologies, by Authors: Matthew Skelton; Manuel Pais; Ruth Malan (other); Published by: IT Revolution Press, which promises to dive a lot deeper in the matter of organizational change than both the Cloud Native Transformation and the Cloud FinOps books and as such is again complementary gaining insight into one of the many aspects of transforming modern organizations.