FOCUS FAQs

FOCUS is an open source Linux Foundation (LF) Project supported by the FinOps Foundation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the FinOps Open Cost and Usage Specification (FOCUS)?

FOCUS is a Linux Foundation technical project supported by the FinOps Foundation working to establish an open specification for cloud billing data. The project will define a vendor-neutral, cross-cloud schema and terminology for key cost and usage dimensions and metrics to simplify ingestion and analysis of cost and usage data. Organizations that produce or consume billing data will benefit from the increased understanding and trust in billing data due to the clarity provided.

What problem are we trying to solve?

There’s no standard way to normalize key cloud cost and usage measures across multiple Cloud Service Providers (CSPs), Software as a Service (SaaS) products, third-party costs and other billing data sources. This creates challenges for stakeholders when making decisions and quantifying the business value of cloud or for FinOps Practitioners who are trying to implement common FinOps Capabilities.

This project will define a specification that allows service providers to produce cost and usage data in a common schema, using FinOps-compatible terminology. Compatible cost and usage data sets enable consumers to unify relevant billing data sets across all providers and drive key business value related decisions based on the fully burdened cost of using cloud.

Additionally, the Specification becomes a blueprint for new service providers to adopt rather than producing more proprietary billing data formats.

Why are we working on an open billing specification?

By defining a common and consistent way to surface key cost and usage data across billing sources, and maintaining this Specification as a discrete Linux Foundation Project, the FinOps Foundation can further its mission to advance the people who manage the value of cloud.

A few guiding statements that direct the FOCUS Project’s mission include:

  • Developing trust in billing data is a key accelerant for cloud adoption / migration – trust requires understanding
  • Billing data is complex and confusing. Complexity grows linearly as you add providers. Standardization is necessary as organizations scale and mature in their cloud adoption journey
  • Terminology used in billing data should match the language of FinOps

Is FOCUS part of the FinOps Foundation?

FOCUS is a separate open-source Project supported by the FinOps Foundation, which is itself a Project of the Linux Foundation. The FOCUS Project will separately own and manage the intellectual property and licensing rights associated with contributions to and use of the FOCUS products. FOCUS will be financially supported by, and affiliated, with the FinOps Foundation, and many of its contributors and steering committee members will be involved with both projects.

How do I get involved with the FOCUS specification?

You can follow and discuss FOCUS with other FinOps Practitioners on our Community Slack channel #chat-focus. If you aren’t a part of the FinOps Community yet, please join!

Why is FOCUS a separate Project rather than just a FinOps Foundation Working Group?

It is critical to any organization using an open source specification or software to be able to rely upon the license terms and intellectual property they are using. Tracking the contributors and intellectual property rights associated with a project like this is important and takes some specific work. The FinOps Foundation is the supporting Project of FOCUS, but FOCUS will be a standalone open source Project to allow it to own and manage the intellectual property rights that will be necessary to protect users of the FOCUS Project work products.

Establishing a technical Project allows contributions, contributors, license rights, and any intellectual property rights to be clearly and precisely tracked over time. This ensures that those contributing to and relying upon the specification are protected. FOCUS is based on the Joint Development Foundation’s templates for starting an independent specification development project.

Is FOCUS related to the Open Billing Standard F2 Working Group?

Yes, the original idea to establish an open standard for billing data came from a FinOps Foundation working group. The name FOCUS was chosen for the specification Project to avoid conflicts with other open source names. The FinOps Foundation working group will stop meeting and any organization interested in continuing to contribute to the specifications should become Members of the FOCUS project, whose FOCUS Working Groups (referred to as FOCUS Groups) will carry on this work.

How will FOCUS and the FinOps Foundation interact with each other?

The FinOps Foundation will initially appoint the steering committee members of FOCUS, and will retain the ability to appoint several members of its steering committee over time. The FinOps Foundation will also financially support FOCUS for its operational needs, and will provide program management, contractor and staff support.

What type of open source project will FOCUS be?

FOCUS is a traditional mode Joint Development Foundation (JDF) project. JDF is a separate Project, also a part of the Linux Foundation which handles the setup of open source projects. Using JDF allows open source Projects like FOCUS to form quickly and collaborate under a standard set of guidelines and legal frameworks. This will speed up the formation stage of the Project and allow participants and members to focus on the work products of the Project.

Does my organization need to be a member of the FinOps Foundation to participate in the FOCUS project?

No. Your organization does not need to be a Member of the FinOps Foundation to join the FOCUS Project as a Contributing Member. If your organization is a Member of the FinOps Foundation you may be eligible to join FOCUS as a Steering or General member.

What does it mean to be a FOCUS “Member”?

Being a Member of the FOCUS Project means you have signed a Contributor License Agreement (CLA) and established a relationship with the Project, its goals, and its work products. Members of the Project will most often be companies or organizations, who allow their employees to participate as contributors under the terms of the CLA, but can also be individuals who are not employed or who are employed by an organization which allows them to individually contribute to open source projects.

Who can be a FOCUS “Member”?

Any company or unaffiliated individual may become a Member of FOCUS if they wish to contribute, and are able to sign the Contributor License Agreement (CLA). Anyone who contributes to FOCUS must become a Member at some level.

How is FOCUS organized?

FOCUS will be led by a Steering Committee which will guide its activities and create its working groups (which will be called FOCUS Groups to avoid confusion with FinOps Foundation Working Groups). Steering Members will be able to appoint members to the Steering Committee if they meet certain criteria.

The FinOps Foundation Governing Board (GB) will appoint other Steering Committee members from among General members, contributor members and Individual contributors.

Details of the governance rights and responsibilities of various member types are found in the Operating Procedures document.

What kind of person are you looking to represent Members who contribute to the FOCUS specification or work products?

Consider joining FOCUS if you have:

  • Technical or functional knowledge of FinOps capabilities, cloud billing, and common standards
  • You are using or building FinOps data analysis tools or platforms
  • You have time to dedicate to contributing code, data, or expertise
  • Organizational support for being involved in creating this specification

Where will FOCUS contributions, resources and project related assets be managed?

Overall, FOCUS will store and disseminate its work products via GitHub. We are generally planning to use a “hybrid contribution” model, meaning that while changes may be made by Contributors directly in GitHub, input may also be provided via participation in FOCUS Working Groups. This input will be entered into GitHub by Maintainers or staff, which will remain the official record of the standard. 

Do I need to sign a license agreement to contribute to FOCUS?

Yes, every contributor to FOCUS outputs must be a Member, and sign a Contributor License Agreement (CLA). This can be done by accessing the FOCUS GitHub repository to sign the CLA.

Are there multiple license agreements?

There is a single license agreement to sign. The agreement can be signed by accessing the FOCUS GitHub repository here.

Is FOCUS a working group or a project (or both)?

FinOps Open Cost & Usage Specification (FOCUS) is the name of the Project that will own and license the specification and various work products. All the work products will be developed and delivered by FOCUS Working Groups. We’ll call these FOCUS Groups to keep them straight. FOCUS is a separate organization from the FinOps Foundation but will be supported by the FinOps Foundation.

Do I need to be a FinOps certified practitioner to contribute to FOCUS?

There is no requirement that the representative of a Member Organization be a Certified Practitioner to contribute to FOCUS, but in our opinion, it always helps.

Do I need to join the FinOps Foundation to contribute to FOCUS?

No. Companies and organizations that sign the Contributor License Agreement can designate contributors to the FOCUS project.

What will happen to the output from the original FinOps Open Billing working group?

Initial contributions gathered during the FinOps Open Billing working group has been granted to the FOCUS project by the FinOps Foundation. A period of acceptance was offered to allow anyone who wishes to assert any intellectual property claims on contributions they made during the FinOps Open Billing working group. Now that the period of acceptance is complete, the content will be integrated with other contributions from other FOCUS Members.

How do I contribute to FOCUS?

Your organization should first sign a Contributor License Agreement (CLA). The CLA is a legal agreement between the contributor and FOCUS allowing FOCUS to use and license the contribution as part of its work products. If you’re an employee of a company, your company may need to provide you with permission to sign such an agreement, or may need to sign the CLA on your behalf by becoming a Member of FOCUS.

If you need help finding the right contacts inside your organization to get approval, please contact us. We can assist with locating the right parties in your organization that have worked with the Linux Foundation in the past.

If you have existing software, specifications, source data mappings, normalization logic, or other contributions you would like to and are legally allowed to contribute, you may submit them to the Project by following the procedures in the FOCUS Project CONTRIBUTING.md process in GitHub.

Each FOCUS Group will have different contribution models, which will be described in their CONTRIBUTING.md file in their home repository in GitHub. 

Overall, FOCUS will store and disseminate its work products via GitHub. We are generally planning to use a “hybrid contribution” model, meaning that while changes may be made by contributors’ direction in GitHub, input may also be provided via participation in FOCUS Groups. This input will be entered into GitHub, which will remain the official record of the specification.

How are Contributor License Agreements (CLA) tracked for FOCUS?

CLAs will be collected for the initial steering committee members using Docusign, and these signed agreements will be maintained by the Joint Development Foundation (JDF) on behalf of the Project. All other CLAs will be collected using a tool called EasyCLA, which is accessed and checked for any pull request or issue entered into any FOCUS GitHub repository. If you do not use GitHub regularly, but wish to contribute at FOCUS Group meetings, you will be asked to create a GitHub account for the express purpose of submitting a request to join a FOCUS Group, which will enable you to sign your CLA. Detailed steps are available here.

How will FOCUS work outputs be licensed?

FOCUS work products, including the Open Cloud Bill specification, reference implementations, sample code, sample data sets, and any other work product will be offered as open source, free of charge, using a variety of established open source licenses. 

  • The Open Cloud Bill specification will be licensed using the W3C Document license. 
  • FOCUS documentation will be licensed under CC by 4.0.
  • Reference implementations and other software license details will be determined at the time the FOCUS Group which creates them is established. 

Who can use FOCUS work products? Do I have to be a Member to use them?

The FOCUS specification will be available for licensed use by those who create billing data, by those ingesting or analyzing cost or usage data, or by organizations who wish to standardize the billing data they receive. The specification will be available for no cost via an open source license which will be fully specified after the Project is launched.

You do not have to be a Member of FOCUS to use the specification or any of its work product, though we would encourage you to become a Member to show your support of the Project and to have a hand in its development.

Who develops the FOCUS products?

FOCUS outputs are being developed by practitioners and members of the FinOps Foundation community, and other contributors with inspiration, guidance and resources from Joint Development Foundation, the Open Web Foundation agreements, the Alliance for Open Media Patent License 1.0, and the Linux Foundation.

What is the schedule for development of the FOCUS project and deliverables?

The FOCUS project is working toward the following schedule:

  • Establish FOCUS Project legal framework, scope, contribution model, membership structure – completed March 2023
  • Establish Steering Committee and initial FOCUS Working Group – April 2023
  • Grow FOCUS Membership with supporting members who wish to contribute to and use the FOCUS specifications – April/May 2023
  • Integrate existing FinOps WG content into FOCUS project common format specification – April 2023
  • Initial v0.5 Release of FOCUS specification common billing format specification, initial cloud billing mapping announced at FinOps X – June 2023

Who will be on the initial Steering Committee (SC) for FOCUS?

The initial steering committee will be appointed by the FinOps Foundation’s Governing Board. Initial SC members will be from the initial signatories:

  • The FinOps Foundation itself: which will appoint Mike Fuller, its CTO to be Chair
  • Microsoft: which will appoint Michael Flanakin as its SC member
  • Google: which will appoint Rupa Patel as its SC member

What’s the difference between a Specification and a Standard?

FOCUS will use the term Specification rather than Standard because a specification is a statement of requirements that should or must be satisfied for products or processes, which is what we are trying to achieve with FOCUS.

A standard is a specification established by an institution that ensures or certifies compliance with a specification. For the initial phases of this specification there is no plan to incorporate a compliance check with any particular implementation, though this may occur at a later time.

Which clouds and billing source files are supported by FOCUS?

The official scope of FOCUS deliverables will be set by the FOCUS steering committee. The initial release is expected to include mappings to the common schema dimensions and metrics from key cost and usage data sources such as:

  • AWS Cost and Usage Report
  • Azure billing data via the v4 CSP billing API via an Enrollment portal login
  • GCP billing data 

Additional sources of cloud billing data may be supported in later releases, including other cloud providers, SaaS providers and other consumption based service billing data.

  • MongoDB billing data
  • CloudFlare DNS
  • Datadog cost data

The specific work outputs of each FOCUS Group will be clearly documented in that group’s SCOPE.md document in their respective GitHub repository.

What other standards will FOCUS integrate with?

FOCUS is targeting mapping of the common schema to the following other standards or projects over time. 

  • ITFM/TBM
  • OpenCost
  • OpenData
  • OpenTelemetry
  • OpenSecurity 
  • OpenDNS

Who are contributors for the FOCUS products?

Any Member organization that has signed a Contributor License Agreement (CLA) may contribute issues, content or pull requests to the Project work products.

Are there Committers or Editors or Maintainers for this Project as on other open source Projects?

The FOCUS Operating Procedures document outlines all the Project roles. FOCUS will use the terms Editor and Maintainer for those with the GitHub permissions to edit and approve changes to specific repositories. These people will always be staff or members of the FOCUS Working Group (FG) that owns the repository. The FOCUS Working Group Lead (FG Lead) will typically be the Maintainer. 

How would I get started working with FOCUS?

First, please review the Code_of_Conduct.md, Scope.md, Notices.md and License.md files available in GitHub. Instructions for contributors are included in the Contributing.md file.

What are the responsibilities of a Steering Committee member?

Steering Committee (SC) members are appointed by the FinOps Foundation Governing Board, and will be appointed based upon the criteria adopted by the group when forming the FOCUS Project. SC members should have the following:

  • Organization signed Contributor License Agreement / Membership Agreement
  • Leadership role among Members
  • Define and Assign FOCUS Working Groups, working group leads, schedules
  • Officially Approve any working group outputs [official specification level]
  • Tie breaking votes for Working Group actions (hopefully needed very seldom)
  • Requesting 2 year commitment
  • Premier level sponsor of FinOps Foundation or equivalent involvement
  • Mix of technical domain knowledge and cloud billing product knowledge
  • Comfort using GitHub is a plus, but not required
  • Initial commitment will be 1-2 hours a week at a high, tapering to 1-2 hours per month

Are there plans for a Compliance program or Certification?

Yes, initial development plans can be viewed here and will be added to over time.

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The FOCUS specification is based on https://jointdevelopment.org/