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A former Citi exec is spearheading efforts to standardize data about cloud costs and billing, as banks try to rein in ballooning bills.  

Spend management recently ranked above cybersecurity as the top challenge enterprises face with the cloud. The FinOps Foundation wants to make it easier to understand (and manage) expenses by creating a common data format for all cloud providers. 

Wrangling cloud costs across different vendors can be a struggle for large enterprises, because providers don’t use the same terminology, pricing structures, or billing formats.  

The FinOps Foundation wants to change that.  

The group launched a new project to create a standard language for cloud billing, led by Citigroup’s former head of global cloud financial management, Udam Dewaraja. Dubbed FOCUS, the specification will help companies demystify their spending across various public cloud providers – which could ultimately help them find ways to reduce costs.  

The initiative comes as enterprises have woken up to how sprawling cloud services can produce unexpectedly high bills. Nearly 45% of respondents in a survey published last fall said that at least one-third of their cloud spend is wasted each year, with lack of visibility into their usage as the main culprit.  

Banks have increasingly built their own tools and best practices for monitoring and optimizing budgets, but it’s difficult to compare billing data (and understand value) across cloud providers. FOCUS aims to make that spend management easier: If all providers speak the same language, then enterprises can benefit through greater understanding, analysis, and trust overall.   

Dewaraja will use his experiences from Citi to lead the group towards a “vendor-neutral, open-source specification” that will drive the financial operations discipline “forward in a major way.