Commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software can be an attractive buy in for many companies when it comes to:
It can seem very attractive at first to jump into a COTS solution, but there are many things to take into account that can make it a less than ideal option. This is where analysing potential software reuse risks is highly recommended and will make the difference between an overall cost saving as initially expected, compared to a failed attempt where the result ends up costing significantly more and the project runs over all checkpoints as well as completion dates.
COTS is defined as software that can be used without modifications and organizations that adopt a COTS-based systems approach generally expect either more
rapid or less costly system construction (David J. Carney, Edwin J. Morris, Patrick R. H. Place, 2003).
It is therefore easy to understand that one of the most attractive initial factors would be the temptingly low price points as opposed to obviously more expensive bespoke software development of a similar product (Keith Ballurio, Betsy Scalzo, Lou Rose, 2002).
Some possible risks in using COTS may include:
There are many ways an organisation could take steps to reducing such risks.
Lack of source code, or using a closed source software application can pose many additional risks, such as unknown security concerns, memory leaks or even at a stretch, dormant malware counterparts that may lie around for years until triggered at a much later date.
Overall, COTS can provide a quick and cost effective way to meet deadlines and keep budgets to a minimum; however, it is of great importance to be able to guarantee that all efforts are put into rigorously determining if any single product or component is the correct fit for your organisation or project, or if something else would be better.
“David J. Carney, Edwin J. Morris, Patrick R. H. Place” – “Identifying Commercial Offthe-Shelf (COTS) Product Risks: The COTS Usage Risk Evaluation” (2003) – Available from: https://resources.sei.cmu.edu/asset_files/TechnicalReport/2003_005_001_14267.pdf (Accessed on 8th July 2017)
“Keith Ballurio, Betsy Scalzo, Lou Rose” – “Risk Reduction in COTS Software Selection with BASIS” (2002) – Available from: http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=707756 (Accessed on 8th July 2017)
“Dan Galorath” – “Software Reuse and Commercial Off-the-Shelf Software” (n.d.) – Available from: http://www.compaid.com/caiinternet/ezine/galorath-reuse.pdf (Accessed on 8th July 2017)