The FinOps Foundation today made generally available version 1.0 of FinOps Open Cost and Usage Specification (FOCUS) specifications that promises to make it simpler to compare the cost of comparable cloud services.

Launched at a FinOps X 2024 conference, FOCUS provides a uniform format for cloud bills that is supported by Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft, Google and Oracle.

FinOps Foundation CTO Mike Fuller said the goal is to make it simpler for IT teams to track a set of cost metrics that would enable them to better assess the value of various cloud services.

In theory, those metrics will enable organizations to better negotiate terms and conditions for comparable services. However, cloud service providers are also confident that increased cost transparency will ultimately result in more application workloads being deployed in the cloud, said Fuller.

Version 1.0 of FOCUS includes common taxonomy, terminology and metrics for billing datasets produced by infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) providers. Contributors to the project worked with the FinOps Foundation to build a library of more than 40 use cases, each capable of being addressed using a SQL query that leverages FOCUS columns to surface insights.

FOCUS will be extended to other cloud software-as-a-service (SaaS) billing datasets, including networking, observability and security tools. Future updates are expected to add further support for SaaS providers and on-premises datasets.

In the months ahead, the FinOps Foundation plans to increase the scope of the specification to include bills for private cloud, networking, observability, security services and SaaS applications as work on versions 1.1 and 1.2 of FOCUS continues.

Eventually, this data will be incorporated into a broad spectrum of management tools to enable IT teams to better control costs, said Fuller.

It’s not clear how many organizations are embracing best FinOps practices to get a better understanding of their cloud computing costs. Many organizations today find it challenging to assess the true cost of cloud computing services, due to a lack of transparency often resulting in fewer workloads being moved to the cloud, simply because no one is certain what their monthly billing cost might be.

Many organizations, as a result, wind up engaging consultants to analyze existing and potential cloud computing costs that can vary widely from one month to the next. FOCUS should make it simpler for IT leaders to make informed cost decisions as application workloads are being deployed in highly dynamic IT environments.

In the face of ongoing economic headwinds, pressure on IT teams to reduce the total cost of IT is rising. Historically, many developers have been allowed to provision cloud resources on demand with minimal supervision, resulting in spiraling costs as more workloads are deployed in cloud computing environments. As IT organizations increasingly employ multiple cloud platforms to run different classes of workloads, understanding the true cost of choosing to use one cloud over another is becoming critical.

At the same time, IT organizations have a greater appreciation for the need to move workloads between platforms that might enable them to reduce costs. Just because an application workload was created in the cloud doesn’t mean that workload should be deployed there. The challenge IT organizations arguably face going forward will be integrating streams of financial data into IT workflows to make more informed decisions about how to allocate their cloud resources in near real-time.

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