The New CloudHealth Experience and the Inform Phase of the FinOps Framework

July 9, 2024 Dan Naparstek

As announced in June, the VMware Tanzu CloudHealth team has been hard at work reimaging and engineering a brand new CloudHealth user experience. We unveiled this live for the first time at FinOps X in San Diego, and were so encouraged to see the excitement and positive feedback from this first look. As we continue getting closer to the availability of this new experience for all CloudHealth customers, we’ll be posting a series of blogs showing how it has been tailored to the needs of today’s FinOps Practitioner through all three phases of the FinOps Framework – Inform, Optimize, and Operate. In today’s blog, we’ll dive into how this new experience helps FinOps teams stay informed while instilling the requirements of a successful FinOps practice at their organization.

Approaching the Inform phase with the new CloudHealth experience

According to the FinOps Foundation, the Inform phase focuses on visibility and allocation using your business’ sources for cloud cost, usage and efficiency data. The new CloudHealth experience is designed from the ground up with visibility and the multitude of data sources associated with cloud usage, starting with the graph data store under the hood. The significance of the graph data store lies in its ability to capture many-to-many relationships for dependency mapping and configuration status, and ensuring this capability can scale to meet your business’ needs. 

While this data can easily be accessed via GraphQL API, users can also use the new Search and Explore feature to visualize relationships between the resources and services that power applications in the cloud. The new experience offers a complete inventory of the cloud assets that you can explore, but also provides the ability to search through this inventory and save these searches for future use. As you navigate your cloud inventory, the Explorer view provides a clear visualization of the relationships between your resources and services, allowing you to better understand how your environment is structured and how changes to one resource can have effects down the line.

Enter Tanzu Intelligent Assist

Last year, Tanzu Intelligent Assist was announced as a large language model capability that enables you to complete tasks in less time, and with reduced friction, by simply interacting with a chatbot through natural language. Without a doubt, the biggest addition to CloudHealth in the new user experience is the ability to leverage Tanzu Intelligent Assist to perform tasks aligned to the FinOps Framework. In the Inform phase, Tanzu Intelligent Assist offers visibility into multi-cloud environments with simple questions, customized reports on specific cloud cost and usage data, and an easy entry point for allied personas who may not necessarily have experience using FinOps tools. Specifically, two key use cases with Tanzu Intelligent Assist include summarizing significant changes that are happening in your environment and generating custom reports at a user's request.

A completely new and innovative addition to the CloudHealth experience is the Cloud Smart Summary, a concise summary of the vast data included in your cloud bills, this includes a summary of what is driving your cloud spend, what has changed, and actions you should consider taking to address those changes. Although the smart summary is a single sentence description of your cost, additional context is available to explain usage changes. The Cloud Smart Summary is a great place to stay informed on the day-to-day events impacting individual resources, and can be used with Tanzu Intelligent Assist to view recommendations for actions that you can consider to optimize costs based on these changes. We will go into this in more detail in our next blog, which will focus on the Optimize Phase of the FinOps Framework.

FlexReports and Tanzu Intelligent Assist

One of the most powerful features of CloudHealth is FlexReports, which will continue to provide customers with granular and customized reporting in the new CloudHealth experience. With Tanzu Intelligent Assist, users can generate reports using natural language queries, which provides unparalleled visibility into cloud cost and usage data and removes barriers to accessing reports due to lack of cloud billing or SQL knowledge. 

For FinOps practitioners, these capabilities replace the need to sift through cloud billing data by providing the ability to simply ask why specific costs have changed—a tailored report with an answer is generated in seconds. It also makes finding desired resources or services with misconfigurations, high costs, or low usage as simple as asking for them. From Tanzu Intelligent Assist, you can dive deeper into the report and sift through the data as needed. You can also copy the SQL that is generated for the query you requested for further use and manipulation.

Access for All—Collaboration for FinOps and allied personas 

Thanks to Tanzu Intelligent Assist, the power of FlexReports is brought to both new and experienced users alike. Typically, business owners and other stakeholders without proficiency in cloud billing or FinOps tools would rely on their FinOps or cloud operations teams to provide consumable reporting for budget tracking, forecasting, and other needs. With the new CloudHealth experience, these personas can be granted access and empowered to generate their own reports with the help of Tanzu Intelligent Assist. In addition to the dashboards and saved reports that may have already been set up for them by FinOps teams, these new users can quickly and easily create custom reports by simply asking in natural language, and can also refine reports through further interaction with Tanzu Intelligent Assist. 

Working within the same platform fosters an extremely collaborative and streamlined working relationship between FinOps teams and stakeholders, and an environment where everyone is accessing the same tools and seeing the same data. This common language can catapult a FinOps practice and accelerate a business’ journey from the Inform to the Optimize phase across FinOps domains and capabilities. 

More to come on the new CloudHealth experience!

Stay tuned this summer for more details on the capabilities of the new CloudHealth experience! We will be sharing more about how you can leverage CloudHealth as you move through the Optimize and Operate phases of the FinOps Framework.

For more information on how CloudHealth aligns with the FinOps Framework, check out our website.

About the Author

Dan Naparstek

Dan is Senior Product Marketing Manager for VMware Tanzu CloudHealth & Tanzu Hub. He focuses on overall messaging and enablement, VMware Explore events, dad jokes, and driving the launches of new features. Prior to joining Broadcom, Dan held roles in sports marketing, brand consulting, market research, and earned his MBA from the Carroll School of Management at Boston College.

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