2 mins

Ahead of his talk at LeadDev West Coast in October, Plaid’s Mark Robinson discusses cloud costs and how they could be the ticket to both dollar value and improved code quality.

Cloud cost optimization: some engineers love it and some hate it. Some may even think it falls outside of their area of responsibility – it’s a job for accounting. But the truth is that cost is a really important part of quality engineering, with a dual, positive impact on profitability and performance. 

Ahead of his talk at LeadDev West Coast later this year, LeadDev’s Editor in Chief, Scott Carey (SC), checked in with Mark Robinson (MR), Senior Cloud Engineer at Plaid, to hear more about cloud cost optimization.

The below conversation has been edited for clarity and brevity. Mark’s full talk will be delivered at LeadDev West Coast on October 18 in Oakland, California.

SC: You're delivering a talk this year at LeadDev West Coast in Oakland in October. Can you tell us a little bit about what you're going to be speaking about?

MR: My talk is called How much is that API call in the window. Fundamentally, I want to talk about cloud costs. In today’s world, companies are spending a lot of money on this and may not be getting the value they expect: We've seen the price list, but often, we don’t really get to see the actual result. 

I’ll be speaking on how we can change the approach to cloud costs from “just run it and hope for the best” to something that becomes an integrated part of the engineering process. In that way, cost becomes another pillar that you care about while building systems.

SC: Why is cloud cost management an important topic for you right now?

MR: Other than external economic factors, I found that cheap software tends to be the most reliable. It’s been my experience that the most expensive software requires more care when handling, often being a lot harder to operate; this can be due to trouble scaling or issues with paging their on-call engineers a lot. Whereas the really well-optimized software doesn't come with these hurdles.

SC: What’s one thing that you've learned about cloud cost optimization over the last year?

MR: I’ve learned that there are a lot of people who are excited about cloud cost optimization – it’s a new challenge that can be learned about and used to make software better. It offers an exciting prospect of allowing engineers to go back through systems and fix things.

SC: What's one thing that you hope the audience takes away from your talk?

MR: I would love it if audience members could walk away wanting to integrate cost management as just another part of their software development process, thinking of it alongside other core aspects such as reliability, security, and maintainability.  

SC: Lastly, why did you choose to share this talk with the LeadDev community?

MR: No one's really thought about cost a whole lot – it's just something that the accountants have to deal with. But cost is an important factor of quality engineering and will improve your systems, even if you're only focusing on the dollar value.