Discover how CloudZero helps engineering and finance get on the same team — and unlock cloud cost intelligence to power cloud profitability

Learn more Arrow Arrow

Explore CloudZero

Discover the power of cloud cost intelligence

Why Change Icon
Why Change?

Give your team a better cost platform

Services Icon

Give engineering a cloud cost coach

About Icon

Learn more about CloudZero and who we are

Pricing Icon

Learn more about CloudZero's pricing

Tour Icon

Take a customized tour of CloudZero


Explore CloudZero by feature

Cost Anomaly Detection Icon
Cost Anomaly Detection

Build fast with cost guardrails

Budgeting Icon
Budgeting And Forecasting

Drive accountability and stay on budget

Discount Dashboard Icon
Discount Optimization Dashboard

Manage all your discounts in one place

Dimensions Icon
CloudZero Dimensions

Organize spend to match your business

By Use Case

Cost Per Customer
Cost Per Customer Analysis

Understand your cloud unit economics and measure cost per customer

Kubernetes Cost Analysis
Kubernetes Cost Analysis

Discover and monitor your real Kubernetes and container costs

Unit Cost Analysis
Unit Cost Analysis

Measure and monitor the unit metrics that matter most to your business

Cost Allocation
Tagging And Cost Allocation

Allocate cost and gain cost visibility even if your tagging isn’t perfect

SaaS COGS Measurement

Identify and measure your software COGS

Engineering Cost Awareness
Engineering Cost Awareness

Decentralize cost decisions to your engineering teams

Cloud Cost Optimization
Cloud Cost Optimization

Automatically identify wasted spend, then proactively build cost-effective infrastructure

By Role

All Your Cloud Spend, In One View

CloudZero ingests data from AWS, GCP, Azure, Snowflake, Kubernetes, and more

View all cost sources Arrow Arrow


Discover the best cloud cost intelligence resources

Resources Icon Resources

Browse webinars, ebooks, press releases, and other helpful resources

Blog Icon Blog

Discover the best cloud cost intelligence content

Case Study Icon Case Studies

Learn how we’ve helped happy customers like SeatGeek, Drift, Remitly, and more

Events Icon Events

Check out our best upcoming and past events

Cost Assessment Icon Free Cloud Cost Assessment

Gauge the health and maturity level of your cost management and optimization efforts


CloudZero Advisor

Compare pricing and get advice on AWS services including EC2, RDS, ElastiCache, and more

Learn more Arrow Arrow

How SeatGeek Measures Cost Per Customer

Discover how SeatGeek decoded its AWS bill and measures cost per customer

Read customer story orangearrow arrow-right

How Skyscanner Creates A Cost-Aware Culture

Learn how Skyscanner decentralized cloud cost to their engineering teams

Read customer story orangearrow arrow-right

How Malwarebytes Measures Cost Per Customer

Learn how Malwarebytes measures cloud cost per product

Read customer story orangearrow arrow-right

How Remitly Shifts Cloud Costs Left

Learn how Remitly built an engineering culture of cost autonomy

Read customer story orangearrow arrow-right

How Ninjacat Combines AWS And Snowflake Spend

Discover how Ninjacat uses cloud cost intelligence to inform business decisions

Read customer story orangearrow arrow-right

How Smartbear Uses Cloud Cost To Inform GTM Strategies

Learn Smartbear optimized engineering use and inform go-to-market strategies

Read customer story orangearrow arrow-right
arrow-left arrow-right
View all customer stories

The 2023 Edition

FinOps 101: An Intro To The Basics Of FinOps

What is FinOps, why does it matter, and how can you get started creating an effective FinOps program? Find out in this in-depth guide.

Table Of Contents

What Is FinOps?

A practice, a process, a hub; a central body dissolving barriers between different realms of an organization. The fabled combination of engineering and finance teams. The taming of that resource which no digital-native business can survive without: the cloud. FinOps is a many-splendored thing. 

FinOps is the practice of maximizing the ROI of your cloud investment. 

FinOps’s roots go back to roughly 2012, and it gathered serious momentum toward the end of the 2010s, as cloud usage rose exponentially. It takes cues largely from DevOps, another engineering-oriented discipline that seeks to optimize the development, release, and iteration of digital applications. 

Broad organizational uptake of FinOps was marked by the 2019 founding of the FinOps Foundation, now a division of the Linux Foundation. 

As defined by its namesake foundation: “FinOps is an evolving cloud financial management discipline and cultural practice that enables organizations to get maximum business value by helping engineering, finance, technology and business teams to collaborate on data-driven spending decisions.”

What Does That Mean?

  • Maximizing the ROI of your cloud investment. Executives estimate that around 30% of their cloud spend is wasted. FinOps seeks to turn every dollar you spend on the cloud into actual business value.
  • Giving different teams a shared language in which to understand and discuss cloud usage. While FinOps primarily centers on aligning engineering and finance teams (the former responsible for building cloud infrastructure, the latter paying for it), the platonic version of FinOps applies to every team in an organization. 

    Given that each team has a different area of expertise, each one has a different lexicon in which they process their work. This produces natural misalignments and gaps in understanding which FinOps fills.
  • Make sure every cloud user in an organization owns and is accountable for their cloud usage. It used to be that a centralized procurement team would review and approve every IT infrastructure purchase. That’s not how it works anymore. Now, IT infrastructure spending is largely decentralized, with purchasing power resting in the hands of everyone who uses the cloud. FinOps makes every cloud user responsible for their cloud usage. 

What Does That Not Mean?

  • Minimizing your cloud spend. A common misconception is that FinOps means spending as little on the cloud as possible. FinOps means spending as little as possible to get the most possible value. It’s an important difference — FinOps aims to quantify the value you get from your cloud spend, not track cloud spend trends in isolation.
  • Only optimizing your cloud spend. Some people conflate “FinOps” and “optimization.” While it’s true that rate optimization — through tools like Reserved Instances (RIs) and Savings Plans (SPs), which all cloud providers offer — is a core domain of FinOps, it’s only one part of a much broader practice.

FinOps is a multifaceted, multidisciplinary process that, in its ideal form, extends to every dimension of your organization. It’s a way for different experts to collaborate over a common, urgent goal: turning cloud spend from an unpredictable liability into a manageable asset.

Next Chapter: