COTS, or commercial off the shelf system solution, provide a host of features and functions as these systems are built for large companies with multifaceted needs. They are usually easier to implement and have more features than bespoke systems, which require specialized programming, development, and installation. However, in order to capitalize on the benefits of COTS solutions, you should be knowledgeable about its architecture. Knowing how these systems work will ensure you are able to take advantage of any services or utilities provided by the system in question. Here is a brief overview of what a COTS system is and some of the key benefits it can offer your business.
Commercial Off The Shelf Systems: What they are and How they’re Used
COTS provides businesses with a wide range of features for one low cost as they are built for large companies with multifaceted needs. They usually have more features than bespoke systems, which require specialized programming, development, and installation. However, in order to capitalize on the benefits of COTS solutions, you should be knowledgeable about its architecture. Knowing how these systems work will ensure you are able to take advantage of any services or utilities provided by the system in question. Here is a brief overview of what a COTS system is and some of the key benefits it can offer your business.
What are Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) Systems?
A COTS system is largely characterized by its commercial use and its use by large organizations with multifaceted needs. What this means is that components of the system are built for companies with needs that require more than one computer, such as a corporate office and an accounting department. The systems can range from simple single servers to complex multi-tier configurations with all kinds of features. These features all have one goal: to reduce costs and increase productivity.
The first notable example of a COTS solution was IBM’s Mainframe Computing System which was offered to the federal government in the 1960s. However, it wasn’t until IBM and Microsoft invented what is now known as Windows NT that COTS became a household word. The system was developed for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to provide a multi-user, multithreaded operating system that could run on a variety of hardware. The resulting system was used by many government agencies and private businesses as it saved money on implementation and maintenance costs.
Today there are hundreds of COTS solutions available that can be found and purchased online. COTS systems usually fall into one of three categories: software, hardware, or a combination of the two. Software products can include things like accounting systems, ERP (enterprise resource planning) solutions, CRM (customer relationship management), HRIS (human resource information systems), etc. Hardware products include things such as servers, workstations, networks, switches, etc.
The commercial off-the-shelf systems at CED are often used by clients in industries ranging from manufacturing to healthcare to digital media and services. Typically a COTS solution will be utilized by a small organization that has less than 100 employees and is looking for more than one machine. For these organizations, a COTS solution is preferable because it offers flexibility and reduced cost when compared with buying a full-blown server-based solution.
COTS Architecture Overview
COTS solutions are usually assembled from kits that cover all of the available features for the system. For example, a typical COTS software package will include all of the necessary components to interface with an ERP system. These components are designed to work together and will typically include a database application, browser and application server, utility packages, etc.
The design of a COTS solution varies from company to company depending on the specific features required. However, most solutions utilize one or more different tiers that handle different functions in the overall system. For instance, a typical ERP package may include some functionality right out of the box such as accounting modules and payroll. Other required services such as HRIS are then added into the system by various vendors who often sell these features as an add-on product that plugs into the ERP package.
Web-based COTS solutions are becoming increasingly popular as they allow for remote access and are usually more affordable than onsite options. In fact, it is often possible to install a web-based COTS solution in less than an hour without any specialized hardware or software. The software is set up on one server and then users can access the system through their own workstations. Because the software is web-based, users can be anywhere in the world and use the system with minimal effort. In addition, since it is normally a subscription model there are no upfront costs for additional hardware or installation services.
Benefits of COTS Systems
There are a number of benefits to using a COTS solution. They are cost-effective, easy to install, and typically easier to maintain than a custom-built system. Costs can often be reduced by up to 75% depending on the architecture and configuration of the solution. Security is also an important benefit as the systems are often updated frequently by the vendor in question as well as any third-party add-ons. In addition, they are scalable, meaning that if your company requires more services in the future it is possible to upgrade certain aspects of the system without having to replace it altogether.
While there are many benefits associated with COTS solutions there are some drawbacks as well. One of the biggest drawbacks is that typically no two COTS systems are alike. There are differences in functionality, support and implementation. While these systems can be a great investment, it’s important to consult a knowledgeable IT professional before making any decisions for your business.
Interested in learning more in types of systems similar to COTS? MOTS – What it is and How it is Used in 2021 covers another type of system that explains modified off-the-shelf systems.
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