Pearson Controls Cloud Migration Costs With FinOps

Once dominated by textbooks and chalkboards, the modern learning experience has gone digital. That reality is especially apparent to Pearson Education, publisher of textbooks and e-textbooks and provider of online assessment tests. Pearson serves more than 75 million learners across more than 70 countries, and to serve them more efficiently, the company made a big push to the cloud, specifically AWS.

During the next four years, the company doubled the size of its engineering staff, increased the number of AWS accounts from six to more than 100, migrated 106 apps to the cloud, and decommissioned four data centers.

But with that came a threefold increase in AWS spending and challenges to the company’s engineering resources: an inability to manage the flood of AWS requests, lack of insight into the pipeline of new requests, and a shortage of money to pay for AWS accounts already created – just to name a few.


Pearson began adopting portions of the FinOps practice into IT planning, eventually leading to a team dedicated to the practice of FinOps, which sits under the Cloud & Hosting team and works closely with the company’s technical project managers. The FinOps team created a process for managing the intake of new AWS requests and helping teams solve their problems:

Engagement – Engineering, security, governance, and FinOps leads determine the nature of a group’s problem and how the cloud could solve it. Out of that meeting comes a list of requirements and an SOW.

Definition – Engineering, security, governance, and FinOps leads conduct an internal review to determine if AWS is a good fit, create a solution diagram, document assumptions and risks, and calculate infrastructure and labor costs.

Commit – Cloud & Hosting team presents their proposed solution, security risks and associated costs, savings opportunities, and labor costs.

“By the end of this [commit] meeting we have a commitment to timelines, commitment to resourcing, commitment to shared responsibility … and both teams have committed to the labor and AWS spend. So when we start building, we know what we all signed up to build,” said Ashley Hromatko, FinOps Manager for Pearson’s Operations Management team.

After a product has launched, the role of FinOps switches to monitoring budgets, creating forecasts, and educating teams on new services and cost optimization measures.

With a full-fledged FinOps practice in place, Pearson has not only accelerated migration but also promoted greater spend accountability.
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