Last week we held our quarterly VMware Multi-Cloud Briefing, a global online event dedicated to enabling organizations to accelerate multi-cloud strategies in a rapidly changing world. Our focus for this quarter’s event was on managing and optimizing a multi-cloud environment, where we discussed the latest industry trends, executive insights, and best practices across cloud financial management, operations, and security and compliance.
Most notably, we had the opportunity to sit down with Jenna Gegg, Public Cloud Cost Manager at Salesforce, to hear their team’s experiences operationalizing a multi-cloud environment. If you haven’t had a chance to hear the discussion, you can check out the replay on YouTube here, as well as an overview of the event and recording on the VMware Cloud blog here.
Here, we’ll provide an overview of the conversation, including Jenna’s tips for cloud management, lessons learned, and how they’re leveraging CloudHealth by VMware to manage, govern, and optimize their multi-cloud environment.
Salesforce’s journey to multi-cloud
If you’re not familiar, Salesforce is the global leader in customer relationship management (CRM). Powered by their cloud-based software, they help marketing, sales, commerce, service, and IT teams work together from any location and at any time. And with the acquisition of Tableau in 2019, Salesforce has increased the value they deliver to their customers by providing them with the ability to further uncover deep analytical insights and make strategic, data-driven decisions.
Jenna joined the Salesforce family via the Tableau acquisition, where she was primarily focused on their public cloud journey and cost optimization efforts. Through the acquisition, she has taken on a larger scope, now managing public cloud cost beyond Tableau to also include the broader Salesforce business.
When Tableau introduced Tableau Online, they brought the power of the cloud to their customers, enabling even faster, more secure, and available access to their powerful analytics solution. This shift from a server-based business model to a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), cloud-based model required a new way of operating and managing spend.
“Previously, if someone wanted to request infrastructure, it went through a standard process of approvals, the purchase order—all of those things. The public cloud operates very differently. So, it was important for Tableau to make sure they had a handle on the visibility of that spend and also be able to report that back to different departments and provide that cost visibility,” said Jenna.
Oftentimes, organizations are up and running in the cloud and realize—usually after they see their cloud bills climbing—that they need to better manage their cloud usage and spend. Tableau had the foresight to ensure they had deep analysis into their cloud usage upfront, along with resources dedicated to ensuring the cloud environment is governed and managed effectively.
Partnering with CloudHealth by VMware
Since Jenna joined the Salesforce family, she was introduced to an even larger cloud footprint. Salesforce has adopted several companies into its solution portfolio over the years (Tableau, Slack, etc.), so it follows that they have also adopted additional cloud environments.
On using different public cloud providers, Jenna says, “the really powerful thing is that CloudHealth brings that all together in a unified view. Something that we definitely couldn’t do easily internally and quickly to keep things moving, as the business is continuing to evolve and change and as we’re trying to integrate those mergers and acquisitions into the portfolio.”
When it comes to managing cloud usage and spend at Salesforce, Jenna noted a few key priorities for the business:
A key priority was to ensure early on, that the business had complete visibility into their multi-cloud environment, and specifically into cloud costs.
When asked for her advice to other organizations who are just starting out in the cloud or beginning to adopt multiple clouds, Jenna said that attaining this level of visibility should be a first step: “You can imagine if you don’t have a tool in place and you have a presence in multiple clouds, gathering that data and getting a picture of it is going to take a lot of time and effort. Your spend is changing every day, so I think that’s really the power of having a cloud management platform in place—there’s that visibility that enables you to start having conversations and making sure the right teams are engaged and have visibility into their cloud operations.”
Accurate cost and usage allocation
With complete visibility attained, it was also important to accurately identify cloud usage and spend by individuals and teams—to start allocating those costs, and then either showing back or charging back those costs to the individual or groups who are actually consuming the cloud services.
“Tools like CloudHealth can enable you to provide that visibility and start allocating those costs back,” said Jenna. Using a cloud management solution like CloudHealth provides Salesforce with a centralized location to visualize and analyze costs, usage, and performance across a widespread organization and multi-cloud environment.
Planning and forecasting
The visibility and information that CloudHealth provides is not only beneficial for cloud cost allocation, but for planning, budgeting, and forecasting purposes. With visibility into their previous spend, different lines of business, teams, and individuals can more confidently predict what they will need for future quarters in terms of budget and then track adherence to the plan over time.
On getting cloud usage and cost information into the hands of the right people, Jenna says that this “allows us to have a budget in place that we’re reporting to, and also to start collecting information on quarterly forecasting. Everyone has the same set of tools and visibility to plan going forward based on that information.”
Taking it a step further, Jenna and the Salesforce team is focused not only on visualizing, analyzing, and planning cloud spend, but also on optimizing that spend so they’re getting the biggest return on their investment in the cloud.
The team takes advantage of public cloud provider’s committed use programs (Reservations, Savings Plans, etc.) and has also implemented governance policies and guardrails—both of which are best practices in cloud cost optimization. By establishing cloud governance policies, Salesforce provides developers and application teams with the autonomy to use the cloud services they need when they need them, while still maintaining control over cloud usage and spend. And with CloudHealth’s custom rightsizing recommendations, they can quickly identify opportunities to improve resource utilization and take advantage of savings opportunities.
Business integration and alignment
With Salesforce being such a large organization, there are many departments, teams, and people with a stake in their cloud usage and spend. To ensure cloud operations are aligned to the broader business’ goals and bottom line, Jenna and the teams responsible for managing cloud costs meet regularly with finance and business stakeholders. They plan the year’s budget and keep monthly checkpoints to track where cloud spend currently stands, where it’s headed, and how this compares to business goals and KPIs.
During the conversation, Betty Junod, Sr Director of Multi-Cloud Solutions at VMware, succinctly stated that when it comes to aligning cloud management with the business, it’s important to “invest in tools early so that you can have honest conversations that are objective. Then that way, the discussions around tuning adjustments can really be made from a source of data and you can monitor those together with your stakeholders over time.”
Many organizations formalize this practice into what is often referred to as a Cloud Center of Excellence—a cross-functional team tasked with supporting and governing the execution of the organization’s cloud strategy, with the ultimate goal of correlating cloud decisions to business value.
Learn more about establishing a Cloud Center of Excellence in our whitepaper: The Next Generation of Cloud Management Starts With a Cloud Center of Excellence
Want to hear more? You can see the full conversation between Jenna and Betty on the VMware Cloud YouTube channel here! And if you’re interested in learning more about cloud management—where to start, best practices, what analysts are saying, and our recommended solutions, see the resources below!
- Assess Your Cloud Management Maturity: Take our five-minute cloud management maturity assessment to see where you stand compared to your peers in cloud financial management, operations, and security and compliance. Based on your results, you’ll also receive custom recommendations to take the next step in your cloud journey.
- The Cloud Operating Model: At the heart of VMware’s approach to multi-cloud transformation, the Cloud Operating Model represents a way for businesses to improve operations through cloud best practices, deliver a cloud experience to consumers, and operate consistently across a multi-cloud world.
- What Analysts Have to Say: Don’t just take our word for it. Download Forrester’s Cloud Cost Management and Optimization report, which explains the key considerations organizations should keep in mind as they evaluate cloud cost management solutions, along with an in-depth analysis of the top vendors in the space. Spoiler alert: CloudHealth by VMware is named a Leader!
- What Customers Have to Say: Want to hear more from our customers? Explore customer stories from the VMware Multi-Cloud community on our YouTube playlist, Customer Corner, or see all stories by industry, solution, location, or language on our website here.