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FinOps Foundation Launches Project To Improve Cloud Cost Management

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The FinOps Foundation – part of The Linux Foundation's non-profit technology consortium – has announced a new “technical project” aimed at improving cloud cost, billing data, and usage for companies.

The FinOps Open Cost and Usage Specification (FOCUS) is an iterative endeavor that will be improved over time, according to the company. The overall goal of the project is to offer a consistent presentation of cloud cost data, which will enable companies to speed up cloud adoption, FinOps said.

By making billing data easier to understand and more consistently reportable between multiple vendors, FOCUS hopes to remove complexity and overhead from processes such as allocation, chargeback, budgeting, forecasting, and the other FinOps capabilities to maximize business value in the cloud.

Google and Microsoft are founding members and will be on the FOCUS steering committee.

FOCUS will enable collaboration between major cloud providers, FinOps tool vendors, major SaaS providers, and the most advanced FinOps enterprises, many of whom struggle to handle disparate terminology, pricing and billing concepts across billing sources, according to the company. It will also enable a common FinOps-serviceable format for cloud billing data instead of the variety of FinOps tools and platforms currently in use—which also have their own particular ways of summarizing, normalizing, or reporting such data, the company said.

Launch Of FOCUS: Leadership Insight

Udam Dewaraja, who recently left Citi as Head of Global Cloud Financial Management, will chair the initial FOCUS working group.

Dewaraja commented:

"FOCUS will solve problems that organizations maturing their cloud adoption now face. Today, there's no clear way to unify cost and usage data sets across different vendors. Having previously faced this challenge as a practitioner, I am convinced that a vendor-neutral, open-source specification with a common schema and terminology will drive the FinOps discipline forward in a major way."

Mich Razon, VP & GM, Head of Commerce Platforms at Google Cloud, said:

"Google Cloud is committed to being an open platform that maximizes business value from the cloud. We are committed to supporting open billing standards for consistency and financial accountability, not only among cloud providers, but also across SaaS, vendor, and service providers.”

Fred Delombaerde, Vice President of Core Commerce at Microsoft, added:

"Our approach with the Microsoft Cloud is to meet customers where they are, providing flexibility that drives innovation with cloud computing. FOCUS aligns with this vision by streamlining cost monitoring efforts and helping organizations maximize their business value with the cloud. We are committed to working with the FinOps Foundation to bring together the knowledge and involvement of all major players in cloud billing to benefit all.”

Iterative Growth

FOCUS will develop iteratively with each step enabling common FinOps capabilities and extending the specification to handle new types of cost and usage data sets and vendors. The initial release is expected in June at the FinOps X conference, and will primarily address foundational FinOps cost reporting use cases for the presentation of Cloud Service Provider (CSP) cost and usage data sets.

Future versions are expected to evolve to include:

  • Extend the specification for the presentation of non-cloud data sets e.g., SaaS, internal, licensing, and other consumption-based products costs, etc.
  • Document FinOps capabilities enabled by each version of the specification, including generic data set examples and queries.
  • Include open-source data converter implementations and data validators to accelerate adoption.
  • Include vendor scorecards to help track progress towards compliance / compatibility
  • Harmonize terminology and nomenclature between FOCUS and tangential standards such as OpenCost, OpenTelemetry, and others.
  • Enable the creation of a common repository for data being ingested from multiple sources.
  • Enable changes to the output formats of billing data providers as they adapt to the specification.
  • Add a repository of code enabling users to query their own vendor APIs or cloud billing data.
  • The FOCUS specification will be available for licensed use by anyone who creates billing data, those who ingest or analyze cost or usage data, or by organizations who wish to standardize the billing data they receive. The specification, reference implementations, software and data sets will be available for no cost via an open source license.