- The Pros and Cons of COTS Components in Enterprise Applications Development. By PROF ARTHUR U. UME
At any given time in enterprise computing and applications development, the developer may decide to integrate COTS components into his/her design. COTS components simply means Customized-Off-the-Shelf artifacts that the developer may obtain online in order to complement the core components of a proposed Information System. There are few advantages for using COTS components in this way, however the disadvantages outweigh the advantages.
Lower cost; less time to implement; proven reliability and performance benchmarks; less technical staff requirement; future updates provided solely by vendor; easy to contact users from other companies; may provide flexibility and less enhancement problem down the road; may offload all maintenance burdens from the shoulder of the “mother” company; may provide cutting-edge technology and solutions to business need.
The Real Issues/Disadvantages with COTS components
- High dependency factors; compatibility issues with existing legacy systems in the organization; some COTS packages may not be easily customizable.
- New versions of COTS component will be released each year.
- An annual maintenance fees are always required for vendor support …and they are always increasing.
- In real life scenarios, the interfaces between the “mother or core software” and the COTS components are never seamless; continuous “tweaking” will always be needed.
- There are some computers being used by vendors that are either too old or too new, and this will always constitute portability or interoperability issues.
- Lack of real functional and technical requirements …because of fear by the vendor of copywriting!
- The level of Quality of code “under the hood”of a COTS component will never be known. Unknown development processes and methods.
- Increasing dependency thereby relinquishing key/core business processes for vendor…. not advisable!
- Predominant platform compatibility issues across departments in an organization.
- Very uncertain …and many a time abrupt component upgrades by vendors of most COTS components .
- Ever Dependency on vendor support and maintenance schedules by the organization.