Cloud Giants Buy In to Simplify Cost/Billing/Usage Data

The "Big 3" cloud giants and other industry powerhouses are supporting an open source project from The Linux Foundation that seeks to demystify cloud billing data.

The project comes from foundation member FinOps Foundation, which says it's dedicated to advancing people who practice cloud financial management through best practices, education and standards. To that end, the organization this week announced its first major release: FOCUS, specifically standing for FinOps Open Cost and Usage Specification version 1.0-preview.

The spec and associated toolkit are designed to help build and maintain an open standard for cloud cost, usage and billing data across all major cloud service providers.The effort is backed by AWS, Microsoft, Google Cloud, Oracle Cloud, CapitalOne, Walmart, Workday, Goldman Sachs and others.

[Click on image for larger view.] FOCUS (source: FinOps Foundation).

"FOCUS is a foundational project for the FinOps discipline to create an open specification for the presentation of cost and usage data, aimed at demystifying cloud spend and making it easier to show and report value," the organization said in a Nov. 16 news release. "The goal of the FOCUS project is to normalize schema and terminology for cost and usage data, helping organizations to achieve consistency and simplicity of understanding cost and usage across cloud, SaaS, and other relevant providers and data sets."

The organization said the effort was started because there's currently no standard way to normalize key cloud cost and usage measures across multiple cloud providers, Software as-a-Service (SaaS) products, third-party costs and other billing data sources.

FOCUS Serves Multiple Providers
[Click on image for larger view.] FOCUS Serves Multiple Providers (source: FinOps Foundation).

The project's development is being carried out in the open, specifically in the FOCUS_Spec GitHub repo.

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 group said, noting that enablement will foster broader FinOps capabilities in the cloud.

The project's first spec release will also include a real-world practitioner use-case library, offering more than 40 commonly performed FinOps use case examples tied to FOCUS data outputs and curated by experienced FinOps practitioners. The use cases present a standardized approach to address common FinOps requirements, leveraging foundational FOCUS data. The entire library, associated comprehensive specifications, detailed instructions and SQL queries are accessible online in order to simplify navigation and ensure that users can easily find needed resources.

The foundation quoted a recent 2024 predictions blog post from Lee Sustar of Forrester Research that predicts that the FOCUS standard "will take off to normalize cloud billing" next year. "The result," predicted the Forrester analyst, will be "a vendor-neutral, multicloud view of resources. This will enable non-IT stakeholders, such as the CFO's office and vendor management, to better engage with cloud operations teams."

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.


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