If you are looking to prove you can effectively manage and optimize cloud costs, a FinOps certification is a good place to start.
FinOps refers to a set of practices for managing operational expenses in cloud computing. Just as the term DevOps highlights collaboration between development and IT operations teams, FinOps suggests collaboration between finance and IT operations and engineering teams.
FinOps practices were developed by the FinOps Foundation, a program within the Linux Foundation.
FinOps helps teams ensure financial accountability across an organization. By using economic incentives offered by cloud providers, as well as cloud financial management strategies, the goal is to have a cost-effective cloud deployment. FinOps also aims to help organizations make careful tradeoffs between cloud costs and performance.
For IT pros who want to learn more about FinOps, or demonstrate their FinOps expertise, there are certifications and training programs available. Some come directly from the FinOps Foundation. Others, such as those from AWS and Coursera, offer training in cloud cost management and optimization more generally. While some of these courses may not explicitly mention FinOps in their titles, the concepts they cover can lend themselves to a FinOps practice.
The FinOps Foundation has a variety of options for certifications and training programs.
FinOps Certified Practitioner
This self-paced course is targeted at a wide variety of IT and business roles, including cloud budget owners, cloud architects, FinOps analysts, IT program and portfolio management leaders, and financial business advisors. The course introduces FinOps fundamentals and key concepts. Recommended prerequisites include knowledge of cloud computing basics, at least one public cloud platform and pay-as-you-go consumption models.
The $599 course provides access to the following:
- six hours of instructor-led video recordings;
- access to online course materials for one year;
- speaker notes and takeaways from the instructor presentations;
- seven-day access to a digital copy of Cloud FinOps: Collaborative, Real-Time Cloud Financial Management, a book published by O'Reilly Media;
- a student handbook to study for the exam; and
- the FinOps Certified Practitioner exam.
Alternatively, there is a virtual, instructor-led FinOps Certified Practitioner course that spans two days. The FinOps Foundation offers this course, which costs $1,500, on specific dates.
The FinOps Certified Practitioner exam costs $300. It lasts one hour and has 50 multiple-choice questions. A grade of 75% is needed to pass, and the certification is valid for two years.
The Linux Foundation also offers bundled options for the FinOps Certified Practitioner exam. For $599, individuals have access to the online course and exam. For $1,500, individuals attend an instructor-led course and can then take the exam.
FinOps for Engineers
This foundational course trains engineers on how to work with FinOps, finance and procurement teams to efficiently manage cloud use and costs. It's aimed primarily at software and system engineers as well as DevOps engineers and managers. While there are no prerequisites, it is a practitioner-level course that explores FinOps from the perspective of engineering teams. The $299 course provides access to the following:
- instructor-led videos;
- access to online course materials for a year;
- speaker notes and takeaways from the instructor presentations; and
- seven-day access to a digital copy of Cloud FinOps.
FinOps Certified Professional
This hands-on course is the FinOps Foundation's most advanced training option. A mix of instructor-led and self-paced learning, it requires an estimated 40 to 50 hours of work over a span of a few weeks. Prerequisites include at least six months of FinOps work experience and a FinOps Certified Practitioner certificate. The course costs $3,750.
To meet the requirements for this certification, you'll need to do the following:
- attend two in-person sessions;
- complete the self-paced modules;
- pass the FinOps Professional exam; and
- meet service and content contribution requirements.
The two-hour FinOps Certified Professional exam includes 100 questions. A grade of at least 75% is required to pass.
Amazon Web Services
An AWS certification shows that the recipient has specific AWS knowledge, skills and capabilities. The AWS Cloud Financial Management for Builders course is specifically for individuals who want to more effectively manage and optimize their AWS cloud costs. It's aimed at developers, system admins and architects. An Architecting on AWS certificate is recommended for this course.
This intermediate-level course covers the following:
- best practices to reduce AWS costs;
- AWS tools to manage and optimize spending on the cloud platform;
- ways to estimate and regulate current and future cloud workloads; and
- architectural best practices, among other skills.
There are virtual and in-person options in various locations and languages. The three-day course costs $2,025.
Cloud Academy is an online training platform that offers certificates on a variety of topics, from cloud computing fundamentals to business management. Subscriptions include access to the content library, hands-on labs and exam preparation. They cost $39 per month, or $399 per year.
Cloud Academy offers an Optimizing Cloud Costs course that focuses on cloud financial management. Participants learn how to do the following:
- analyze and allocate cloud spending;
- use certain services and tools to reduce your cost of ownership in the cloud;
- adopt a consumption-based cost model; and
- measure cost efficiency.
The course averages 11 hours, broken down into 17 modules that include hands-on labs, courses, webinars and an exam. The free exam consists of 30 multiple-choice questions and lasts 45 minutes. You must score at least 60% to pass.
In addition to this, Cloud Academy offers numerous other courses, exams and resources on its platform.
AWS offers a course called Cloud Cost Management: Optimization Strategies through Coursera, another online training platform. This course covers how to get started with optimizing AWS costs and capacity. Set over three weeks, this six-hour, online, beginner-level course offers flexible deadlines and a certificate upon completion. The objective is to develop skills in financial management, cloud computing and cost management. Topics covered include AWS pricing basics, VM right-sizing and using the AWS Billing console to analyze spending. You can enroll for free, but the certificate costs $49.
Other FinOps training resources
From practice tests to study guides, there are various ways to supplement FinOps training and prepare for a certification exam.
For $25, online course provider Udemy offers two practice tests for the FinOps Certified Practitioner exam. Each practice test has 50 questions.
The book mentioned above -- Cloud FinOps: Collaborative, Real-Time Cloud Financial Management by J. R. Storment and Mike Fuller -- is an additional study resource. The book uses real-life examples to help readers learn about cloud costs and financial management, two concepts you'll need to understand well to attain FinOps certification.