Service Included, FinOps Foundation Counts Cost Of Cloud – Forbes

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Cloud has costs. Cloud computing has a cost in terms of staff training and the need to upskill software application development engineers with its new mechanics, syntax, architecture and structure. Cloud computing has a cost in relation to its environmental impact - a factor borne out of its need to run from server racks located in Cloud Service Provider (CSP) datacenters.

Cloud computing has a cost in the shape of cost savings, with IT infrastructure management, maintenance, updates, security provisioning and more all handled by the CSP hyperscaler platform (AWS, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure and the other vendor-specific clouds that also exist such as Oracles) of choice that an enterprise settles on. Cloud also has a cost in terms of migration charges as we move previously on-premises data and applications to the cloud - and of course, cloud has a cost because cloud computing isnt free.

With all those costs to consider, it is perhaps no surprise that weve seen the FinOps Foundation, established in recent times. A part of The Linux Foundation since 2020 (prior to which it was a standalone non-profit trade association) as a non-profit technology consortium, this group is focused on advancing the people and practice of FinOps to analyze and manage the cost of cloud.

In search of a formal definition of FinOps (which we have also discussed here), the foundations Technical Advisory Council states that, FinOps is an evolving cloud financial management discipline and cultural practice that enables organizations to get maximum business value by helping engineering, finance, technology and business teams to collaborate on data-driven spending decisions.

With cloud spending being the central focus of FinOps (although the other above-mentioned costs also forming an integral part of the miz) the FinOps Foundation has now launched the FinOps Open Cost & Usage Specification (FOCUS) version 1.0-preview. In terms of collaborators and supporters. AWS, Microsoft, Google Cloud and Oracle Cloud join large cloud spenders like CapitalOne, Walmart, Workday, Goldman Sachs and others as formal contributors to this specification i.e. all firms have aligned to this universal cloud billing specification.

This foundational project for the FinOps discipline is hoped to create an open specification for the presentation of cost and usage data. In other words, the team (the committee, the council, the board, the aligned organizations - everyone involved basically) have said that they are concerned with demystifying cloud spend and making it easier to show and report value. The goal of the FOCUS project is to normalize schema (the format and structure that information is presented in, such as that presented by a dataabse) and terminology for cost and usage data, helping organizations to achieve consistency and simplicity of understanding cost and usage across cloud and data sets.

We are establishing FOCUS as the cornerstone lexicon of FinOps by providing an open source, vendor-agnostic specification featuring a unified schema and language, said Mike Fuller CTO at the FinOps Foundation. With this release, we are paving the way for FOCUS to foster collaboration among major cloud providers, FinOps vendors, leading SaaS providers and forward-thinking FinOps enterprises to establish a unified, serviceable framework for cloud billing data, increasing trust in the data and making it easier to understand the value of cloud spend.

Senior director of engineering at Walmart Tim OBrien has said that he is glad to see the momentum gathering here. He thinks that having a vendor-neutral view of all cloud resources will enable teams to engage more proficiently with cloud partners and, in turn, better serve our users. Forrester analyst Lee Sustar predicts that the FOCUS standard will take off to normalize cloud billing in 2024. He is of the mind that this vendor-neutral multi-cloud view of resources will enable cloud engineers - but also non-IT stakeholders in finance and vendor management - to engage more competently with cloud operations teams.

The basics of good decision-making and execution requires clarity of information. FOCUS goes a long way to making that possible and we look forward to even greater innovation in the years ahead, said Anne Johnston, VP of Engineering Cloud Costs at Capital One. Corporate VP at Microsoft Fred Delombaerde echoes Johnstons positivity and says that his department is committed to working with the FinOps Foundation to bring together the knowledge and involvement of all major players in cloud billing to benefit all.

After the release of the initial FOCUS 0.5 at FinOps X (a FinOps conference, no relation to Twitter) this summer 2023, the formal release of FOCUS 1.0 includes many foundational advances, such as extending the specification for the presentation of both cloud and SaaS data sets and the inclusion of open source data converter implementations and data validators to accelerate adoption. To enable broader FinOps capabilities in the cloud, FOCUS 1.0 enables use cases for discount analysis, unit pricing allowing rate transparency, and detailed usage analysis while overlaying business context information via support for tags and resource metadata.

The FOCUS 1.0 release will also include a real-world practitioner use case library, with more than forty commonly performed FinOps use case examples tied to FOCUS data outputs, curated by experienced FinOps practitioners from massive cloud spenders including by Johnston of Capital One. These use cases offer a standardized approach to address common FinOps requirements, leveraging FOCUS data as the foundation. The entire library, along with comprehensive specifications and detailed instructions and SQL queries, is accessible online, simplifying navigation and ensuring users can easily find the resources they need, notes the foundation, in a technical statement.

Like cloud security, which many technology commentators will argue was somewhat overlooked at the outset of the cloud revolution, cost was never discussed as a major element of cloud over and above cloud providers claiming that they would save money on Capital Expenditure (CapEx) outlay. As we know count the pennies more closely and examine ALL the costs tabled at the start of this discussion, we can perhaps now really use FinOps to make cloud pay.

Its time to make cloud pay and service is included, literally.

I am a technology journalist with three decades of press experience. Primarily I work as a news analysis writer dedicated to a software application development beat. I have spent much of the last twenty years focusing on open source, analytics & data science, cloud computing, mobile devices & data management. I have an extensive background in communications starting in print media, newspapers and also television. If anything, this gives me enough hours of cynical world-weary experience to separate the spin from the substance, even when the products are shiny and new.

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Service Included, FinOps Foundation Counts Cost Of Cloud - Forbes

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