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Understanding Cloud Usage & Cost with Kion

Tatum Tummins

6 min read

Last updated on April 12th, 2024 at 11:34am

Courtesy of the FinOps Foundation

A few weeks ago, the FinOps Foundation published a revamped framework to better align with the activities, best practices, and language being used across FinOps practices in 2024. We now have a new FinOps definition to highlight the focus on maximizing the value of the cloud, revised capabilities and domains, as well as an update of the personas to provide a clearer picture of who needs to collaborate for a FinOps practice to reach its maximum potential.

These changes will impact the language and terminology practitioners use when describing their activities or challenges, which is why I want to highlight how Kion directly supports these FinOps Framework Domains & Capabilities. While I am pleased that Kion currently has features and functionality to enable activity required in all four of the new domains, today’s focus will be on how Kion supports the domain “Understanding Cloud Usage & Cost”.

Understanding Cloud Usage & Cost:

The outcome for this domain is centered around an organization obtaining a better understanding of their cloud usage. This includes consolidating cloud cost data, consistent and timely reporting, allocating spend to the right teams, and setting up processes for understanding or preventing anomalies. These high level activities are broken down into four capabilities, which are defined below, alongside Kion’s role in enabling our customers for success.

Data Ingestion - Collect, transfer, store, and normalize data from various sources, with a goal of creating a complete, contextual dataset of cloud usage and cost data available for analysis.

Practitioners need a central repository for cloud cost and usage, and there is a need to have a single view regardless of how complex a multi cloud footprint may be. The availability, quality, and timeliness of this data is ultimately the first step in enabling success with the other capabilities in this domain. Simply put, Kion is the data ingestion tool for our customers.

For Kion, the vast majority of its features are innately multi cloud. When managing your organization or reviewing spend reports, your cloud data across AWS, Azure, and GCP are combined into a single view. Unlike some tools in the market that require toggling to different tabs for each CSP, Kion manages those data sources together by default.

In addition to what’s currently provided, Kion plans to make two improvements in this area by supporting Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) as an additional CSP, along with allowing for additional datasets to be added to the platform with the adoption of the FinOps Cost and Usage Specification (FOCUS). The end goal is allowing customers to combine all necessary data into one view, and that’s something Kion is committed to.

Reporting & Analytics - Analyze cloud data and create reporting to gain insights into usage and spend patterns, identify opportunities for improvement, and support informed decision-making about cloud resources.

When customers think of FinOps, this is often the capability that first comes to mind. This is typically the dashboards and reporting an organization relies on to understand their usage and make informed decisions on actions needed. Kion has always supported this capability, but in our recent v3.9 release, big improvements were made to better support our users.

Kion now provides a revamped user experience along with the ability to better combine filters to solve a majority of customer needs. Along with the reporting interface upgrades, it is now easy to save and share reports across the organization. You can learn more about the recent investments made into this space in the recent 3.9 release blog.

Kion plans to continue investing in this capability, with additional upgrades centered on more efficient accessibility to reports and increased granularity into spend.

Allocation - Define strategies to assign and share cloud costs using accounts, tags, labels, and other metadata, creating accountability amongst teams and projects within an organization.

In my opinion, allocation is the most critical capability to do well when starting to build out a FinOps practice. It’s a fundamental building block required to bring accountability to the end users who control the spend. Without it, users are often confused or uninterested in learning more about their role in FinOps.

One of the critical steps to allocating cloud cost is to be able to define organizational groupings that reflect your business. Kion is positioned to do this from multiple angles:

  • Org Chart
  • Labels (virtual tags on the org chart)
  • Funding Sources
  • Cloud Provider Tags

The combination of these elements allows our customers to easily see spend throughout their organization, while also enabling chargeback reporting for finance users to utilize. This is an area I am personally passionate about, as it’s how I began my career in FinOps seven years ago. I hope to bring some of my prior experiences to Kion by adding additional capabilities to the the platform for our users to take advantage of in the coming year.

Below are two examples of how Kion allows users to easily attribute cost for visibility into spend:

Example of how customers can utilize the Org Chart for visibility into spend

Example of how customers can use labels in Kion - all labels are available for spend reporting

Anomaly Management - Detect, identify, alert, and manage unexpected or unforecasted cloud cost and usage irregularities in a timely manner to lower risk in cost-effective cloud operations.

Anomalies are one of the words that scare a CFO or CIO the most when discussing cloud spend. The beauty of the cloud is that it’s easy to consume only what your business needs, but conversely, it’s also easy to consume much more than you need by mistake. This is why preventing unexpected or runaway spend is one the top priorities we hear from customers.

Kion is built with preventative measures in mind, allowing our customers to setup automated enforcements to take action on potential spend overruns. Users have the ability to apply Cloud Rules that will freeze, terminate, or simply notify when certain criteria has been met. These enforcements also tie into the above allocation capability, as they can be easily set at a team level for increased accountability and quicker triage activity for investigation.

Kion is committed to supporting customers with preventative guardrails with plans to advance our feature set over time to provide additional detection and monitoring capabilities.

The Understanding Cloud Usage and Cost domain is ultimately about organizations better understanding their spend, what’s driving it, and who is accountable for it. It’s a vital capability to focus on when building out a FinOps practice, because without it, the rest of the necessary capabilities will likely suffer from the lack of timely spend reports that tie back to the teams owning the spend. Whether it’s easily accessing your multi cloud data via spend reports or the allocation of spend across the org chart, Kion provides real solutions to these everyday problems.

This is just a glimpse into how Kion propels customers towards success across these key capabilities. In the upcoming months, I’ll be expanding this blog series to shed light on every aspect of the FinOps Framework where we make a significant impact on our customers.

About the Author

Tatum Tummins

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