Optimization & improving performance to keep clouds light

The journey isn’t just about being in the cloud; it’s about optimizing in the cloud.

At Capital One, we are constantly running at full speed when it comes to cloud initiatives and moving completely into the cloud. You may be familiar with our plans to have no data center footprint by the end of 2020.  Our teams don’t see this momentum as merely a series of initiatives. They see their work as helping in the always changing space of cloud technologies. With this space constantly evolving, there is so much to do, and yet such little time to do it; not to mention, resource challenges and competing priorities of working on the cloud at enterprise. While 2020 is halfway over, there is one priority that cannot be ignored: optimizing and improving performance in the cloud.

The journey isn’t just about being in the cloud. It’s about optimizing in the cloud.

Leading the charge as cloud experts

I am a director of software engineering at Capital One leading a team tasked with helping find rightsizing and cloud optimization opportunities within our organization.  We know the goal of any cloud journey is not simply about being in the cloud. That’s not good enough. It’s about using the cloud to its optimal capacities, while also galvanizing support amongst our internal users with attention paid to exemplary cloud native best practices.

We develop tools and strategies that help other Capital One teams improve performance in the cloud. We then reach out to teams and users to share our resources and tools in meetings and one-on-one talks. We have established some wonderful partnerships with various lines of businesses, and helped train them on how to run their optimization tracks independently. In addition, we have worked with numerous application teams to deep dive into their specific applications; identifying opportunities and helping them streamline their deployments for improved performance and reduced costs.

How did my team and I get tasked to chase after these rightsizing opportunities by Capital One? First, we knew there were risks for not optimizing in the cloud. To ensure we’re all on the same page with optimizing in the cloud, we offer a set of best practices and shared standards to the table to ensure we’re all working on the same page. Second, and most importantly, we mapped out all the potential gains. Being in the cloud alone isn’t enough; that is why we turned to optimization.

Resource challenges

Like all other companies that have lean approaches, we have resource challenges. These obstacles have not set us back but instead made us more nimble, which has been particularly helpful when working at full capacity during a global pandemic. In fact, thanks to our preemptive work navigating into and through the cloud, the pandemic, even with all of the health risks, social challenges, and drastic changes in how almost all of us work in tech, it posed almost no problems with our work moving forward. Despite resource challenges, we were well-prepared for something few could foresee.

Costs and efficiencies

Our first focus was on cloud cost optimization and efficiencies, which is a natural step once teams are dialed into resiliency, availability, and improved performance. My team promoted automation through releasing several tools to help implement features such as predictive scaling and optimize close to 300 instances.

During this process, we learned that the biggest challenge was getting leadership buy in! We noticed that when you influence the right leaders, the actions come automatically.


Another aspect is data. Using data to derive usage, costs, and forecasting has been key in presenting the case for optimizing in the cloud. Our data has played a huge role in  getting teams to buy in. In an ideal world, you would have such metrics available to each leader on a weekly basis so they could see the progress and opportunities within their scope of responsibility.

One team member, Data Analyst Igor Trubin, explains the mechanics behind data collection. “We found a way to collect adequate cloud usage performance data to automatically recognize the workload patterns of different cloud objects and their subsystems (clusters of servers, databases, containers, disk volumes and networks), including the cost of using them.” Some details of the method for doing that we shared in the following tech blog post: Optimizing your public cloud for maximum efficiency.

Summing up - the cloud journey never ends

The work to improve performance and optimization in the cloud never ends, and these other facets mentioned - limited resources, costs and efficiencies, and data - add to the complexity of our journey. The iterative spirit at Capital One compels me and my team to be constantly recreating the spaces in which we find ourselves virtually. While we know we’ve accomplished so much with cloud technologies, I don’t believe in resting on one’s laurels. So, we press on every day, discovering new ways to lead, innovate, and inspire in the cloud space. 

Shashi Chappidi, Director of Technology

Shashi is a global technology leader with expertise in driving cloud transformation and business growth. In her 9 years at Capital One, she has built cloud businesses, created strategic partnerships, and executed at scale to help her company and customers realize value with digital transformation. She has broad experience across Cloud migration, Cloud Governance and Compliance and Cost optimization. Shashi is a strategic leader recognized for thinking big, building high-performing teams and navigating complexity. She is also a passionate advocate for D&I in tech and leads the CapAbilities and accessibility business resource groups in addition to her day job.

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