Azure FinOps – Back to Basics

FinOps, or, financial operations, is still a new practice area. Even so, we are starting to see the same type of drift in definition that has diluted the meaning of DevOps (which once meant, quite simply, the tight integration of development and operations to create a more agile – in the original sense of that word – organization).

Many companies, struggling to understand and control their cloud costs and keen to find solutions, have started FinOps teams. This is good. What is less good is the enterprise tendency to attempt a reinvention of the wheel by not referencing the principles of FinOps as detailed (for free) at the FinOps Foundation website.

Here is the FinOps Lifecycle from this source:

We can directly apply this to the management of costs on Azure (or any platform). 

Note the lower-left-hand section of the framework:

The first step is to understand your Azure usage and cost sources and key metrics such as:

  • Cost Allocation
  • Data Analysis and Showback
  • Managing Shared Cost
  • Data Ingestion & Normalization

On Azure, the best way to start this process is by analyzing the details of your Azure invoice per subscription in tabular format as shown in the example below:

More information about viewing and analyzing your Azure invoice is available at the Microsoft article, View and download your Microsoft Azure invoice.

This information can be downloaded as a CSV or spreadsheet for offline detailed analysis (of course, there are also many cloud cost observability platforms available that can help with this but we’ll get to that in future posts).

In the next post, I will walk you through an invoice, focusing on its use as an information source to help build the foundation for your FinOps practice. There is a distinction, which I’ll describe in detail next time, between simply viewing the invoice as a bill and seeing it as a strategic asset.

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