Lindbergh Matillano - Intro to Automated Governance
17th January, 2023
Episode 17 Lindbergh Matillano - Intro to Automated Governance
Lindbergh Matillano, Director of the Cost Optimization team at Avalara, shares his experience and perspective towards FinOps and FinOps governance. How he leverages his heritage and his background in finance. Lindbergh also shares how to approach automating cloud governance.
[00:00:05] Stacy: So do you remember how to do this, Joe? It's been a while.
[00:00:18] Stacy: No, I say my name first because then , you say your name and then you saying this is the FinOps pod.
[00:00:39] Stacy: exactly? You never know. You don't know
[00:00:42] Stacy: They might have been hitting that 15 second fast forward and just met us halfway through.
I like being surprised. I like a sense of wonder what's going on
Fast forward to another part. So for every podcast you listen to, it's a very different outcome than probably most people have.
[00:01:24] Stacy: I don't think if you listen to the podcast you're confused, but if you listen to our introduction, you're often confused about, about what's coming next or why people gave us a platform, meaning you and I to talk. Okay.
[00:01:45] Stacy: that 15 second skip
15 second skip okay. But for those people that don't hit that 15 second, skip. Hi, I'm Stacy Case
[00:01:57] Stacy: Woohoo. We did it.
[00:02:00] Stacy: I don't know why I always do woo woo or ooh, like nobody needs my sound effects. Anyways, it's good to be back. It's been a little bit because end of the year, beginning of the year, excuse number two, excuse number three. but I have a kind of a funny story, Joe, about the podcast, if you will indulge me.
[00:02:21] Stacy: thank you. My parents came out to visit over the holidays and to be fair, neither one of 'em knows what I do or what I've done for the past 15 years for work. Especially when we start talking about cloud. Neither one of them, I've explained it multiple times, but there's really no clue.
And then I said something about you and I do the introductions for these podcasts. And I'm like, here, I'll play you one. So I started to play , the end of the year one with the bloopers and the best of, they were totally into it, especially my dad. And then I just started well, if you like that.
t know what to say. So I was [:
And I'm like, mm, mm-hmm. . But yeah. So yeah, my, my parents got a kick out. My parents who have no clue about FinOps got a real kick out of the end of year episode that we did with Ashley. They thought it was very funny and they really, really, It was funny that nobody could do the introduction. Like my dad was like cackling in the backseat of my truck listening to that.
Like, oh, you just have to say it's FinOpsPod It was very cute. Very funny.
[00:04:21] Stacy: She wants to listen to music. Like we had to listen to it if we were listening to it.
or in an elevator or yeah, that's what the kids are doing. And so it's so infuriating. I was like, wait, you're listening to muzak? And she's like, what's that? So I said, what if I recorded FinOpsPod in lo-fi? And she's like, I'd listen to it. So I'm gonna do the outro in lo-fi, today to see if my daughter will listen to it at all. families and podcasts.
[00:05:02] Joe: actually what I did is I went to Deana Solis and I was like, Deana, who do you wanna talk to? And she said, I wanna talk to Lindbergh Matillano. Lindbergh is the director of cost optimization at Avalara. He did a lightning talk at FinOps X last year on automated governance. And it's really good. Deana wanted to talk to him. And, he has a really unique name and, it's kind of funny how his name came about and he shares that story right off the top.
[00:05:34] Joe: it's a great episode. first off, it's two folks of Filipino heritage and they're talking, , about how they bring their backgrounds, strengths from their backgrounds into their day-to-day. and also Lindbergh is like myself, a former finance person, and I really related.
ng about technology problems [:
[00:06:16] Stacy: Oh, this will be great. I always really appreciate Deana's insight on things too. the great thing about Deana when she talks to somebody is the questions that she asks and she digs a little bit deeper. and I have no doubt that's exactly what's happening here. And then also connecting. And I think, you know, Deana does this great, I think we do this within the podcast anyway, is. It's the human side of FinOps, right? Like what is it about us as humans , that it makes it interesting for FinOps too.
All the things. Let's jump right
Right. Into it again. I'm [00:07:00] also excited to hear how you're gonna do a lofi outro, so listen through the whole thing so you can hear that
[00:07:08] Stacy: again with the sound effects.
[00:07:40] Lindbergh: Yeah, yeah. It's my first name, I'm actually named after Charles Lindbergh, the pilot. my parents for whatever reason, found that a very good, courageous name, and so they decided to call me Lindbergh. I don't know why they didn't call me Charles., but, they chose Lindbergh and [00:08:00] obviously that's stuck, but , yeah, it's funny, if no one ever met me and they see my first name and then my last name, their first impression is, wow, this is gonna be some tall German, Italian dude.
And then they meet me and I'm like, a five four Filipino guy. And they're kind of taken aback. Like, okay, you're not as, you're not as tall as we thought you were.
and I wanted to reach out to you first and, and say hello. Welcome to the community., I don't know if you remember that at all, but I always wanna see other Filipinos
or in my communities, in my [:
[00:09:00] Lindbergh: yeah, and I think I actually even reached out to you on LinkedIn because , I think there was an episode cover you were covered, and I'm like, oh, this is a Filipino, so , you know. Inadvertently this has become, the Filipino, broadcast version of FinOps Pod. So maybe in the future we'll do it in Tagalog
[00:09:18] Lindbergh: me too. . I'll bring my wife.
And I wonder if that might be the same for you, , in terms of being. An only person from your community in any way. , and if you , have had to think about that while you build your career.
So going into a engineering meeting, , it's a little intimidating, right? Not only that, , I'm five four, so , you know, all of these people already tower over me. , luckily, , working remote has kind of leveled that playing field for a bit because no one knows how tall you are, in the camera.
But, it's definitely made my approach , to managing, , cloud spend and interacting with people a lot different because oftentimes, , I don't want to feel like I'm being overlooked or my opinion is weighed less just because of, you know, , my experiences.
so I often come with facts ready in hand. , probably more prepared than, than most people coming, into a meeting.
So I wanted to know if being bicultural, and maybe even a little bit bilingual, could inform you, as you do your job.
And part of it, one of the reasons why I pursued that was this perception that I needed to build expertise in this area. When I'm talking to other engineers I'm definitely not a software developer, but I'm a little, I think I have relatively more expertise in, in some things, right?
translation between the two, [:
So it's good. I mean, from a cultural perspective, , I never really thought about it that, but yeah, , I'm also from the island of Guam, so if you're ever on an island, you have a lot of scarce resources. So I think I have the mindset of trying to make do with the resources that you have, thinking creatively and utilizing that.
So, yeah, I think the [:
[00:13:04] Deana: I'm so glad that you brought those things up and also that you brought up that you have a finance background because I don't think I knew that about you. I wanna shift gears a little bit the little bit that I know about you from your virtual profile is that you were at Microsoft for a few years, and then you moved over to Tableau for another few years where I'm sure that you created a lot of value before Avalara found you and in those roles, you were in basically technical companies and were you in a finance role and, well, was your role more or less the same in each of those? Or has it evolved as companies become more agile, become more DevOps informed. ,
So over the course of my career, I started moving more and more towards technology related companies, technology related fields, even the departments, right? so that was a conscious choice for me to make that move. And in that process I leveraged my finance skills to get into these other departments and learn the technical skills and understanding, and then from there, kind of leverage both.
ot of my experiences to move [:
[00:15:03] Deana: I'm curious if you have had to unlearn some of the strengths that a finance background might, , develop and where I'm going with that is some of my strongest leaders in financial planning have been quite rigid when it comes to investing in technology., and sometimes being successful with that sort of leadership requires a paradigm shift. that's what's in mind when I ask you the question have you had to unlearn any habits or skills or strengths?
you're right though. I remember doing research on how do you quantify an investment in this old ROI CAPM model for technology when [00:17:00] some of the returns aren't necessarily immediate or known. And I remember coming across something like agile finance where rather than talking about return on investment of dollars, you're more of like, what is the goal? If you're increasing customers by making this investment, that's what you test for. So, I think those are, you know, interesting experiences that I have that I try to unlearn, or really it's like an amalgamation. I think. , I remember talking to someone in finance and they said, you should have some people, some finance people spend some time in engineering because engineering is very complicated, but as chaotic as it may look, it's very actually well organized. They have sprints, they have documentation, they have playbooks. And you know, when I was in audit I was just like, wow, these guys are detail oriented, no. If you go into engineering organization, they're really detailed oriented, right? At a huge scale because they have to manage a lot of complexity.
Could be the way that we unlock that, mindset shift. so now I'm really glad I named you as someone that I wanted to have this conversation with. , we got to meet last summer at FinOps X and we spoke so briefly. but I was excited that you were there a lightning talk.
And you were talking a little bit about cloud governance. So to shift gears a little bit, tell me about how that became part of your role.
You can't necessarily have a server without some sort of licensing on top of it. as I continue to monitor and govern the cloud. being able to scale out and do that more effectively across multiple accounts and, you know, accounts continue to grow around the organization.
boards would refresh, daily, [:
So it's in their inbox. I would look at it and I would notice a spike, and then I would follow up with that person. Now, as time went on. we noticed that there was kind of these low hanging fruit things, resources that are, I guess, I like to call them zombie resources.
They're kind, kind of cool. But , there's a lot of zombie resources and I think historically what I've done was go into the account, download it into Excel, send it out to the person or email or Slack. And , I wasn't getting a lot of traction on that. I might get a one or two bites , but not a lot of traction on that.
And, you know, we have a lot of accounts it made sense for us to see what we can do from a governance perspective, an automation perspective, to do that. we selected an open source tool, , and a third party application to automate, the identification of these zombie assets and.
s of when we're working with [:
Are created and Jira. So there's not this process of, getting my email, going to Jira, uploading that information, and then signing out like From a governance automation perspective. Now it's more of a policy violation is detected, and then it's sent over to Jira and it's assigned to a particular team.
in their backlog and then , [:
[00:22:20] Deana: So my follow up to that was, I get a lot of questions from folks about how do you decide what to automate, what governance to automate, and it sounds like you had a very thoughtful process, understanding that part of the process was that feedback loop. You're getting those, you called 'em two different things. optimization opportunities and violations. They're the same thing, but the way that you talk about it has a particular effect. And so I think you've actually thought through how you want to engage your partner [00:23:00] in engineering, what advice would you give to someone who is thinking about, well, how do I decide what governance to automate?
we try to first do notifications because automation is very powerful. It can do a lot of damage if you . Pick the wrong automat. So, we try to keep it small, a small blast radius and notifications only, and then gather feedback from the stakeholders that are getting [00:24:00] the notifications, because if they're doing something regularly, like if it's a, some sort of zombie asset and they just go through a process of just deleting it, we could always say, okay, can we just automatically delete it?
But we won't know until the stakeholder goes through that process. and oftentimes, you want to treat , your environments differently, right? Like your production environment. You definitely wanna be very, very sure that whatever automation you put in place, is rock solid and is not gonna take down your production.
in Dev, you might be a little more brave or adventurous. But you still need to be able to test these out you wanna pick the right automations, that are impactful to the engineers. My philosophy is once again, going back to what's the impact on the engineer, right?
And how can I make their experience better and easier? , because I'm asking of them their time. So I wanna make sure that, , it's worthwhile.
[00:25:45] Lindbergh: I think the success of the program is really dependent on the culture. I think , you talked about organizational alignment, that's essentially [00:26:00] part of the culture, right? , I've been actually very lucky to be part of organizations where, cost optimization was part of the culture. and , I wanna be careful too about talking about cost optimization because oftentimes people.
Think when you see cost and optimization, it's always about cutting costs, but the reality is it's ensuring you have the resources that you need at the right. Right. So having over capacity doesn't benefit the company, doesn't benefit the customers.
just having those dollars locked in. So I think it's very important just to have a very cost aware culture and, that's one of the things I look for in any organization is really, is this just an exercise in cutting cost or is there something bigger?
ities, make the organization [:
[00:27:12] Deana: I agree. We've talked about, I think a very FinOps definition of cost optimization. What can you say about FinOps to make. Exciting to someone who is new to the topic That's a challenge. Everyone should have to answer
but, my daughter asked me what I do, I often tell her I solve problem. And I imagine myself [00:28:00] as a detective in the FinOps space trying to find some missing, you know, set of money. Right? Like, that's really exciting, , I find if you like finding money, sure. It's not your money, but if you like finding money in general, just finding that unused resource or that savings is like, yes.
Right? Like I get excited finding, you know, a few coins in the couch finding, you know, millions of dollars in savings. I'm like, wow. Um, here you go. Now you can go spend it elsewhere. That's probably all I can say is if you're excited about trying to solve something, looking for puzzles, I mean FinOps is where to go. lots of puzzles.
[00:28:51] Joe: [00:29:00] All right. The lofi outro.
You know, we didn't plan this, but this was a very family centric episode of the FinOps Pod. Stacy telling the story about her parents. and her dad laughing at our intros. Me, talking about how my daughter won't listen to the podcast unless I put a Lofi filter on it.
And, Lindbergh, you know, brought up his parents , and how they came about with his very memorable name. , so look at that kind of theme. We didn't plan it, it just happened. Themes happen sometimes. So that's really,
thank you Lindbergh, sharing your stories with us. Automated governance helps scale out your FinOps policy, and sharing your insights and lesson learned on that.
you Deana Solis, as always, [:
Thank you as always to Stacy case and Mr. Case. And Mrs. Case, for listening to the podcast. thank you Maggie, my daughter, for listening to this outro. I'm sure you skipped , everything that happened before this, , but thank you for listening to it.
t is the first episode of the:
Ooh, that might be a good ending quote. Go get yourself some Fin FinOps. maybe we'll switch that later, but I'm gonna stick with this. That's the end of this episode. Keep on FinOps-en..
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