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A comprehensive guide to choosing the right FinOps tools in 2023

A comprehensive guide to choosing the right FinOps tools in 2023

In January 2022, Troy Hunt, owner of popular the data breach-reporting service Have I Been Pwned, got an bill from Microsoft Azure racking up $11,000 in unexpected costs.

Cloud bill shock is real, and it’s becoming an increasingly serious problem for businesses large and small as their cloud footprints constantly expand. While there’s no denying the advantages of cloud computing, which has become mission-critical in today’s service-based economy and the era of hybrid work, the public cloud can pose major cost management challenges.

That being said, preventing cloud bill shock is just one part of the equation. 94% of enterprises overspend in the cloud, even if they don’t always know it. Thus the need for a more disciplined and collaborative way to utilize and pay for cloud services is clear. That’s where FinOps comes in as a way to address cloud cost management concerns in today’s multi-cloud environments.

What are FinOps tools?

FinOps presents a paradigm shift to cloud cost management from the siloed approach of old, in which everyone takes ownership of their cloud usage and spend. First and foremost, it’s a cultural change that prioritizes team collaboration and accountability by bringing together IT, DevOps, and finance teams under a common goal. That goal is to optimize cloud usage and costs by enabling full-funnel accountability across every product feature and transaction.

Although FinOps is a cultural movement rather than a software category, software plays a vital role in helping businesses understand their cloud consumption and the costs associated with it. To that end, FinOps tools and platforms help decision-makers make sense of complex billing and invoices and correlate costs against products, projects, and teams. For SaaS companies in particular, whose business models are entirely reliant on the cloud, FinOps is essential for ensuring long-term growth and sustainability. 

Cloud cost management versus FinOps

 

AWS Cost Explorer helps you visualize the costs and usage associated with your AWS services.

Before choosing FinOps tools, it’s important to understand the differences between FinOps and conventional cloud cost management. Both are commonly confused, not least because FinOps is a relatively new term.

While both approaches have their commonalities, they cater to different audiences. Cloud cost management is primarily a reporting function that shows how a business is using cloud-hosted resources and how much those resources cost. These reports are largely seen by a relatively small audience, and they generally don’t provide actionable insights, nor do they offer a truly granular view into cloud unit economics. Examples of cloud cost management tools include native apps like AWS Cost Explorer or GCP Cost Management.

FinOps tools take cloud cost management to the next level. Firstly, they’re third-party solutions that give businesses visibility into the cloud unit economics that matter to them, rather than to a specific cloud vendor. They also provide actionable insights into how businesses can reduce and optimize their cloud spend in complex multi-cloud environments. Some may also provide automated functions concerning areas like resource tagging and rightsizing. 

Key functions and features

The FinOps framework, provided by the official FinOps Foundation, identifies 18 capabilities, which represent the functional areas necessary to meet the demands of the FinOps principles. A comprehensive FinOps platform should support all these capabilities across a business’s entire cloud estate, including containers, data lakes and warehouses, and instances. As such, a FinOps tool may contain the following features and functions:

  • Tagging: Tagging allows teams to assign human-readable labels to cloud resources, allowing for greater visibility and smarter budget allocation. This may be automated.
  • Reporting: Reporting features allow teams to build customized reports tailored to the needs of specific departments, roles, and cloud apps.
  • Forecasting: Forecasting leverages past cloud usage data to help anticipate future demand and inform teams of which areas to invest in.
  • Cost explorers: FinOps-orientated cost explorers go beyond native tools like AWS Cost Explorer to provide full-funnel cost visibility across your cloud environment.
  • Multi-cloud support: FinOps tools may support any number of cloud platforms and containerization, data lakes, and warehousing systems.

Tradeoffs to look out for

Implementing a FinOps culture isn’t something that happens overnight, but’s it’s undeniably the key to building a more sustainable business model. Businesses typically start with the cost management tools that are native to their cloud platforms of choice, such as Cost Explorer in AWS. However, implementing the right FinOps tools brings your business significantly closer to achieving a high level of maturity. Ultimately, with the right strategy empowered by the right tools, you’ll be able to address complex edge cases, automate cloud cost management, and set higher performance goals across the entire business.

Some FinOps platforms, even if they’re not self-styled as such, introduce greater complexity, often because they offer a very broad approach encompassing all the major cloud providers and services. For example, you probably don’t need a FinOps tool that provides visibility into Azure cloud costs if you only use AWS and GCP. Some platforms cater to global enterprises with massive cloud footprints, while others are better suited to startups and scaleups that may have smaller but rapidly growing cloud estates. It’s important to choose tools that suit the size of your business, your current and anticipated level of FinOps maturity and business KPIs.

5 FinOps tools to consider

The FinOps sector is a burgeoning marketplace that’s seen substantial investment in the last few years. Moreover, it will likely continue to grow as companies become ever more reliant on the cloud. Choosing the right tools will accelerate your FinOps journey and ultimately lead to enhanced business value.

Below, we’ll look at some of the best FinOps tools currently available:

 

#1. Finout

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 Finout offers a single source of truth for your AWS, GCP, Kubernetes, Snowflake, and Datadog costs and usage. 

Finout serves a as single source of truth for all usage-based costs associated with AWS, GCP, Snowflake, Datadog, and Kubernetes. The platform prioritizes accessibility and ease of use, which are core tenets of the FinOps framework owing to the fact that it extends beyond the IT and DevOps departments to bring finance and product teams into the fold as well.

With customizable dashboards, reports, and notifications, Finout helps organizations explore their real unit costs, such as how much a particular feature or transaction costs. This lets users rebuild their cloud bills in a way that suits them, rather than the vendor. Furthermore, unlike a lot of FinOps tools, Finout has a set pricing system that’s never connected to the percentage of your cloud bill.

Year founded: 2021, Tel Aviv, Israel

Best for SaaS companies that need granular visibility into their cloud unit economics across AWS and GCP.

Pricing structure: Flat monthly rate starting at $500 per month. A free version is available for companies with a maximum annual cloud spend of $50,000.

 

#2. Harness

Harness provides automated cloud cost management and integrates with a wide range of third-party tools.

Harness describes itself as a software-delivery platform rather than a dedicated FinOps tool. That said, it provides a comprehensive range of cloud cost optimization features and functions tailored primarily to the needs of DevOps teams. The solution is primarily orientated towards development teams and claims to save up to 70% of your cloud bill thanks to intelligent cloud cost automation.

Automation is one of Harness’s main focus areas, and it spans the entire delivery pipeline for cloud software. It also actively manages cloud resources and idle time more effectively, with no custom scripts nor manual engineering effort required. It automates tagging and provides granular Kubernetes cost visibility too.

Year founded: 2016, San Francisco, California

Best for companies looking for a scalable solution for automating cloud cost management in AWS, GCP, and Azure.

Pricing structure: Tier-based pricing structure that charges a percentage of cloud spend of between 2.25 and 2.5%. A limited free version is also available.

#3. Densify

Densify uses machine learning to identify and forecast cloud resource usage and availability.

Densify is another platform that makes extensive use of machine learning to automate cloud cost and usage optimization. Automated routines include instance rightsizing and intelligent scaling of cloud resource types. Its primary focus is on containerization using the Kubernetes platform, thanks to its ability to manage clusters, namespaces, quotas, and projects at scale.

Unlike broader FinOps platforms, Densify caters primarily to the needs of cloud engineering teams, which find themselves under increasing pressure from finance departments to report and validate their use of cloud resources. The tool is suitable for use in single-, hybrid-, and multi-cloud environments, including IBM Cloud and container services including Red Hat and Kubernetes.

Year founded: 1999, Richmond Hill, Ontario

Best for companies looking to optimize their cloud containerization in public or hybrid cloud environments. 

Pricing structure: Densify offers customized pricing plans for each customer based on their cloud usage.

#4. Spot

 Spot by NetApp provides cloud cost an usage transparency for AWS, GCP, and Azure.

Leading global data-management firm NetApp acquired Spot in 2020 and has since expanded upon its capabilities to bring cloud storage and compute optimization to the next level. Self-styled as a CloudOps platform, Spot primarily caters towards large enterprises and managed services providers that require a broad range of data- and cloud-management services.

Spot uses machine learning and automation to provision and scale cloud resources, such as spot instances, reserved instances, and on-demand instances according to application needs. It’s goal is to eliminate overprovisioning and minimize cloud waste, particularly for enterprises that have huge cloud footprints and find it extremely challenging to adapt with demand.

Year founded: 1992, San Jose, California

Best for businesses with large cloud estates seeking to optimize their usage of spot, reserved, and on-demand instances in AWS, GCP, and Azure.

Pricing structure: A monthly pay-as-you-go plan with no annual commitment, or a negotiated subscription plan based on usage and savings.  

#5. Cloudability

Cloudability is a platform for analyzing and optimizing AWS,GCP and Azure usage and spend.

Apptio’s Cloudability is a certified FinOps platform that aims to bring IT, finance, and DevOps teams together to optimize their cloud usage, enhance service delivery, and reduce costs. It’s one of the few platforms that aligns specifically with the FinOps framework, although it caters primarily to large enterprises and industry-leading cloud adopters.

Cloudability also offers a range of professional services, including strategic guidance and deep technical expertise to help businesses implement a FinOps culture. It supports all of the major cloud providers and offers native integrations with Atlassian Jira, Datadog, and PagerDuty. However, it’s pricing structure is based on cloud usage. 

Year founded: 2011, Bellevue, Washington State

Best for big enterprises looking for a certified FinOps platform that streamlines SaaS portfolio management across all major cloud platforms.

Pricing structure: Individual custom pricing based on business size and cloud usage. There is a free 14-day trial but no free plan. 

Final words

When choosing cloud cost optimization and FinOps solutions, the most important thing to think about is your particular business and its various use cases. While all the tools we’ve covered here offer robust and proven solutions, they also cater to different clientele. For example, if you’re looking for a platform that can support a large global enterprise with a highly complex cloud environment, then one of the major providers might present a better choice. However, such solutions will likely be overkill for smaller businesses with more specific industry focuses. 

To ensure you get started on the right track and get the most out of your cloud environment, we recommend carefully reviewing potential software providers. We also recommend reading their case studies to determine which vendors are the best match for your business, industry, and product. 

Finout gives businesses total cloud cost observability in minutes with a single source of truth for your cloud spend. Book a demo with our specialists today to begin your FinOps journey.

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