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The FinOps Foundation launches FOCUS, a new spec for sharing cloud cost data

Image Credits: Kinsei-TGS / Getty Images

The FinOps Foundation, a foundation under the auspices of the Linux Foundation, today announced the launch of FOCUS, the FinOps Open Cost and Usage Specification, a new project that aims to build and maintain a common spec for cloud cost, usage and billing data. This spec, the group argues, will provide a consistent structure for reporting cloud cost data and enable companies to expedite their cloud adoption thanks to increased trust in this data and the ability to map cost back to individual business units.

Google and Microsoft, which are both premier members of the foundation, will join the FOCUS steering committee, with the likes of CloudZero, CloudMonitor, Neos, VMware, Ternary and Accenture also participating in the project.

"One of the things that we've run into is that one of the underlying core issues with working with FinOps data and trying to push forward a culture of cost accountability and getting finance integrated and getting engineers to take better actions to be more efficient from a cost standpoint is that the data underlying the practice is super confusing," said J.R. Storment, the executive director of the FinOps Foundation. "We're trying to solve that underlying data problem. The big challenge is people don't trust the data and they don't understand it -- and as a result, they can't take actions on it."

The issue is compounded by the fact that a single cloud provider may have thousands of different SKUs and most enterprises now use multicloud solutions. Add to that the fact that the data is often extremely granular, with big users often having millions or billions of charges every month, and the different financial agreements large enterprises may have with a cloud vendor, and it becomes obvious that making sense out of all of this data is a challenge -- and one that is rather specific to FinOps.

The idea behind FOCUS then is to create a consistent data structure and nomenclature for how this cloud cost information is presented. And while the spec is currently focused on cloud vendors, the foundation expects to expand this concept to support SaaS vendors and licensing costs as well.

Businesses, the group argues, need a single view of their cloud spend, but that's been hard to get. Even startups that specialize in cloud cost management struggle with it. Indeed, Udam Dewaraja, the chair of the FOCUS working group and former head of global financial management at Citi, argued that this is one of the reasons why most of these companies only support a very limited number of clouds.

"If you're big enough, you might have three cloud vendors, but definitely not the tail of SaaS vendors. What the corporations and organizations need is this holistic view of cloud spend, not individual vendor-level cost management," he said. "Doing FinOps is really hard because of all of these inconsistencies in the data and different terminologies and whatnot. It's a linearly scaling thing. As you add more vendors or your organizational complexity grows, both impact the complexity for the practitioner."

Storment noted that the FinOps Foundation currently represents about 10,000 practitioners from various organizations. Nine of the Fortune 10 and 88% of the Fortune 50 companies are part of the organization.