Jeremy King, Pinterest's head of engineering. Collage by Joanna Lin Su. Photo by Bloomberg

How Pinterest Learned to Control Cloud Costs

Photo: Jeremy King, Pinterest's head of engineering. Collage by Joanna Lin Su. Photo by Bloomberg

Like many other large Amazon Web Services customers, Pinterest at times has struggled to accurately forecast its cloud capacity needs in advance, causing it to pay for additional capacity at a higher price. But some of the measures implemented in recent years by Jeremy King, Pinterest’s head of engineering, show how the scrapbooking app has turned that weakness into a strength.

The tactics include appointing “spend captains” on the company’s engineering teams to track how much cloud capacity it is using and oversee weekly AWS bills, and getting its internal financial analysts and data science leaders to collaborate closely on spending strategies and forecasting, King said in an interview. Pinterest also shares its forecasts with AWS significantly in advance of potential business-growth spurts, which has helped it to avoid the kind of capacity limit it faced with AWS in the past.

King’s work could serve as a road map for other large consumers of cloud services during a period in which some are debating whether using providers like AWS is too costly once companies reach a certain size, and private data center providers are hoping to scoop up business from disenchanted cloud customers.

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