As the data center is moving toward a software defined model, measuring that software’s complexity is increasingly valuable. For example, VMware offers EVO: RAIL, their hyper-converged infrastructure architecture (HCIA), as a building block for a software-defined data center (SDDC). When making a major decision in IT, such as moving to an HCIA, software is often the primary criteria for such a choice. This is in part due to the ubiquity of HCIA components, chosen from the same pool of comparable or identical processors, storage, switches and so forth – systems architected for the same purpose from similar or identical components can perform pretty much the same regardless of their vendor and branding. As a result, factors other than performance become more influential in the comparison, and total cost of ownership (TCO) models gain value.

With an HCIA, there is a management layer abstracting every aspect from compute to storage to networking. The data center is virtualized, allowing it to be entirely managed from a single console. That management interface thus becomes the choke-point. If the software in an HCIA is clumsy, the entire data center is clumsy. So a versatile metric for manageability is needed to determine which HCIA is the best choice. Typically, manageability data is sourced from surveys of administrators, formalizing a wide range of opinions into numbers. However, can a TCO outcome be reliable if it is derived simply from majority rule and opinion rather than hands-on investigation?


The Comparative Manageability Complexity Study (CMCS) is a proprietary metric to Edison Group, formulated largely by Edison Chief Analyst Barry Cohen as a result of a recognized need from numerous client engagements. CMCS quantifies software’s manageability and assigns cost to it from hands-on installation and operation of a solution like an HCIA. It has been in use for over ten years, assessing management systems for everything from storage to databases to virtual machines to networking. CMCS measures complexity on the basis of clicks and steps in a graphic user interfaces (GUIs) or any menu-driven system. After CMCS quantifies manageability, it goes a step further and assigns a cost to that manageability based in part on salaries of typical administrators weighted by the prevalence of tasks in an administrator’s workday, and in part on formulas that belong to Edison.

CMCS, uniquely effective when dealing with solutions driven by the quality of their software console, is applicable to any management interface that isn’t command line. In addition to HCIAs such as EVO: RAIL, Nutanix, and SimpliVity it can prove out value for Integrated Infrastructure Platforms such as FlexPod from NetApp, VCE Vblock, and Oracle Exadata; for databases such as Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle DB, and IBM DB2; and even for administration of Cloud-Based Productivity Suites such as Office 365, IBM SmartCloud for Social Business, and Google for Work.

Edison’s unique approach to TCO has additional value over TCOs from surveys alone: CMCS can be applied to any solution, no matter how new, because it does not rely on a pool of knowledge collected from months of experience in the field. New to market products like HCIAs can be used in a lab and the costs calculated from that use. If a vendor needs to measure TCO, Edison can start as soon as the solution is in beta. As such, vendors looking to build a TCO model ahead of the competition find Edison Group’s CMCS to be the solution to gain the competitive insight needed and substantiate why the solution is the best choice. As the data center is increasingly defined by software, measuring that software’s manageability is gaining value, and working with Edison offers a way forward for those who need to measure the differentiator between otherwise comparable systems: software, how complex it is, and how much its complexity effects manageability and thus costs.