If you’re 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 operational expense management practices in cloud computing. Just like 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 of the Linux Foundation.
FinOps helps teams ensure financial accountability across an organization. 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 trade-offs between cost and cloud performance.
For IT professionals who want to learn more about FinOps or demonstrate their FinOps expertise, certifications and training programs are available. Some come directly from the FinOps Foundation. Others, like those from AWS and Coursera, offer more general training on managing and optimizing cloud costs. Although some of these courses do not explicitly mention FinOps in their titles, the concepts they cover may lend themselves to FinOps practice.
The FinOps Foundation offers a variety of options for certifications and training programs.
Certified FinOps Practitioner
This self-paced course is suitable for a wide variety of IT and business roles, including cloud budget owners, cloud architects, FinOps analysts, IT and portfolio management program managers, and financial advisors. The course presents the fundamental principles and key concepts of FinOps. Recommended prerequisites include knowledge of cloud computing basics, at least one public cloud platform, and a la carte 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 instructor presentations;
- seven-day access to a digital copy of FinOps cloud: VSCollaborative and real-time cloud financial management, a book published by O’Reilly Media;
- a student manual to prepare for the exam; and
- the FinOps Certified Practitioner exam.
Alternatively, there is an instructor-led FinOps Certified Practitioner virtual 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 consists of 50 multiple-choice questions. A mark of 75% is required 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, people take 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 effectively manage cloud usage and costs. It is primarily aimed at software and systems engineers as well as DevOps engineers and managers. Although there are no prerequisites, this 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 one year;
- speaker notes and takeaways from instructor presentations; and
- seven-day access to a digital copy of FinOps Cloud.
Certified FinOps Professional
This hands-on course is the FinOps Foundation’s most advanced training option. A mix of instructor-led and self-study, it requires around 40-50 hours of work over a period 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 will need to do the following:
- attend two in-person sessions;
- complete the self-study modules;
- pass the FinOps Professional exam; and
- meet service and content contribution requirements.
The two-hour FinOps Certified Professional exam consists of 100 questions. A mark 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 people who want to more effectively manage and optimize their AWS cloud costs. It is intended for developers, system administrators and architects. An Architecting on AWS certificate is recommended for this course.
This intermediate level course covers the following:
- best practices for reducing AWS costs;
- AWS tools to manage and optimize spend 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 prep. They cost $39 per month or $399 per year.
Cloud Academy offers a cloud cost optimization course that focuses on cloud financial management. Participants learn to do the following:
- analyze and allocate cloud-related spend;
- use certain services and tools to reduce your cost of ownership in the cloud;
- adopt a consumption-based cost model; and
- measure profitability.
The course lasts an average of 11 hours, divided into 17 modules comprising practical work, lectures, 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 many 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 explains how to get started optimizing AWS cost and capacity. Taking place over three weeks, this six-hour beginner-level online course offers flexible deadlines and a certificate upon completion. The aim is to develop skills in financial management, cloud computing and cost management. Topics covered include the basics of AWS pricing, sizing VMs correctly, and using the AWS Billing console to analyze spend. You can register for free, but the certificate costs $49.
Other FinOps training resources
From practice tests to study guides, there are various ways to complete 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 and real-time financial management in the cloud by JR Storment and Mike Fuller – is an additional study resource. The book uses real-world examples to help readers learn more about cloud costs and financial management, two concepts you’ll need to fully understand to earn FinOps certification.