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When they go closed, we go open – Google Cloud and open billing data

Cloud cost optimization, a key FinOps practice pillar, begins with understanding. But deciphering cloud bills can sometimes feel like a full-time job. If you have a multicloud environment, you’ve likely observed that cloud providers rarely, if ever, handle cloud billing the same way. Making sense of multiple cloud bills is like working overtime! To demystify your Google Cloud bill, plus get answers to some of our most frequently asked questions, be sure to check out our last blog, All about Google Cloud billing tools. It will point you to multiple resources in your billing console to help you get better value from and unlock innovation from your Google Cloud.

But here’s the thing, trying to decipher your cloud bills isn’t something we want you to spend much time on. Rather, our hope is that you can efficiently and effectively leverage your billing data to make better business decisions and allocate costs across your organization in a clear and organized way. That said, we’re thrilled to share highlights from our most recent Framing Up FinOps episode. Along with Rupa Patel, a product manager from the Google Cloud Billing team, we welcomed J.R. Storment, Executive Director of the FinOps Foundation, and Mike Fuller, its CTO. Together, we announced the launch of the FOCUS project — that is, FinOps Open Cost and Usage Specification, a standardized open spec for cloud costs, usage, and billing data.

Why FOCUS?

To make good business decisions, good data is non-negotiable. And to trust your cloud data, you must first understand it. But across companies and cloud providers, few organizations actually do. Industry experts are scratching their heads and speaking different languages as they look at their cloud bills. It’s not an issue of the data being wrong or inaccurate, it’s just detailed, granular, and complex. Understanding individual cloud data is hard enough, but trying to do it across multiple clouds or multiple other types of software technology can seem impossible — even for experts.

FOCUS, an open-source specification project, is a movement across the entire cloud ecosystem. It’s designed not only to standardize and bolster your trust in all of your cloud-cost data, but also to help you map it and allocate it across your company. Google Cloud is an open, secure, planet-scale infrastructure designed to give customers the freedom to securely innovate however they want to. We aim to seamlessly integrate with open environments, open database implementations, open data-lake processing, open AI tools, open data, and open you-name-it. Being open is a part of Google’s DNA.  

A common lexicon

Currently, there’s no standard cloud-usage or billing-data language. There aren’t any public industry-wide  resources available, so many teams are doing the heavy lifting internally. Sound familiar? Has your company tried to standardize cloud data into a single report or to gather costs across different cloud providers and allocate them in relation to each other? For many, it’s a nightmare. 

FOCUS includes a common set of terms, dimensions, and metrics, which we hope to standardize across the industry over time. As FinOps capabilities normalize across cloud providers, this can help to reinforce best practices, accelerate builds, and reduce the time billing-data training and learning requires.

Mapping across clouds 

Understanding billing-data granularity or frequency can be tricky and time-intensive. For some organizations, understanding and mapping multicloud billing data sometimes feels grueling.  

To ease the burden of mapping data across multiple clouds, FOCUS will standardize and normalize dimensions (e.g., resource ID or service category), metrics (e.g., cost and usage amounts), tributes (e.g., update frequency and delivery), and metadata (e.g., schemas, references, and data catalogs).

Empowering engineers

In a recent State of FinOps survey, 40% of respondents reported that getting engineers to act on their cost-optimization recommendations was their top challenge. If you’re adopting FinOps practices and this is a primary pain point at your company too, you’re not alone. Enabling engineers to change and take fiscally conscious action requires doing things differently. How do we put the critical data they need where they’re already operating?

With FOCUS, you can summarize data and key information across the whole cloud footprint. This project aims to reduce the noise engineers must deal with in their day to day. It tightens their focus on the FinOps reporting that enables them to act on specific challenges and key indicators. And it can make that data visible, more transparent, and easily accessible so your engineering teams can focus. 

Make better business decisions with FOCUS + Google Cloud

At Google our mission is to organize information and make it universally accessible and useful. We’re proud to be founding FOCUS steering members because we believe this project aligns with our company mission. With Google Cloud billing, you don’t need to wait until your next cloud bill to make informed business decisions. We refresh billing data daily. And with FOCUS, we believe your billing data will be even more accessible and useful so you can get more of your time back and focus on cost management, cost savings, and cost optimization.

Getting started with Google Billing data and FOCUS

Today Google Cloud Billing offers three rich data exports via Big Query:

Standard usage-cost data export: standard Cloud Billing account cost usage information   

Detailed usage cost data export: detailed Cloud Billing account cost information, including resource-level cost data like a virtual machine or SSD that generates service usage for various services including Compute Engine and Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) 

Pricing data export: Cloud Billing account pricing information 

The first FOCUS release — targeting cost-allocation dimensions and metrics — will take place at the second annual FinOps X conference, June 27–30, 2023 in San Diego. With this partial, version 0.5 release, you can begin to standardize language before the full release. As you adopt the FOCUS dimension and metrics in your tooling, you can start aligning parallel data and begin to map dimensions across cloud providers. If you’re looking to build Google Cloud-specific implementations, stay tuned. The first of these are projected to launch later this summer at Google Cloud Next, August 29-31, 2023 in San Francisco.

Because FOCUS is an open project with an open-source license, anyone can sign up and contribute. The only membership requirement is a signed Contributor License Agreement (CLA), which states that you’re freely open sourcing your contribution. If you’d prefer not to, you can just grab a spec once the project launches this summer. 

Want more information? 

To learn more about the FOCUS group, read the recent press release, check out the FinOps Foundation website, or come see us in person at the upcoming FinOpsX event in June 27-30 in San Diego, CA and please be sure to join us every other week for our newest episode of Framing Up FinOps on Twitter Spaces.

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