Commercial off-the-shelf or commercially available off-the-shelf [ buzzword ] which are then adapted to satisfy the needs of the purchasing organization, rather than the commissioning of custom-made, or bespoke, solutions. A related term, Mil-COTS, refers to COTS products for use by the U.S. military.(COTS) products are packaged or canned solutions
In the context of the U.S. government, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) has defined "COTS" as a formal term for commercial items, including services, available in the commercial marketplace that can be bought and used under government contract. For example, Microsoft is a COTS software provider. Goods and construction materials may qualify as COTS but bulk cargo does not. Services associated with the commercial items may also qualify as COTS, including installation services, training services, and cloud services.
COTS purchases are alternatives to custom software or one-off developments – government-funded developments or otherwise.
Although COTS products can be used out of the box, in practice the COTS product must be configured to achieve the needs of the business and integrated to existing organizational systems. Extending the functionality of COTS products via custom development is also an option, however this decision should be carefully considered due to the long term support and maintenance implications. Such customized functionality is not supported by the COTS vendor, so brings its own sets of issues when upgrading the COTS product.
The use of COTS has been mandated across many government and business programs, as such products may offer significant savings in procurement, development, and maintenance.
Motivations for using COTS components include hopes for reduction system whole of life costs.
In the 1990s, many regarded COTS as extremely effective in reducing the time and cost of software development [ citation needed ]. COTS software came with many not-so-obvious tradeoffs— a reduction in initial cost and development time over an increase in software component-integration work, dependency on the vendor, security issues and incompatibilities from future changes.
Commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software and services are built and delivered usually from a third party vendor. COTS can be purchased, leased or even licensed to the general public.
COTS can be obtained and operated at a lower cost over in-house development [ citation needed ], and provide increased reliability and quality over custom-built software as these are developed by specialists within the industry and are validated by various independent organizations, often over an extended period of time. [ citation needed ]
According to the United States Department of Homeland Security, software security is a serious risk of using COTS software. If the COTS software contains severe security vulnerabilities it can introduce significant risk into an organization's software supply chain. The risks are compounded when COTS software is integrated or networked with other software products to create a new composite application or a system of systems. The composite application can inherit risks from its COTS components.
The US Department of Homeland Security has sponsored efforts to manage supply chain cyber security issues related to the use of COTS. However, software industry observers such as Gartner and the SANS Institute indicate that supply chain disruption poses a major threat. Gartner predicts that "enterprise IT supply chains will be targeted and compromised, forcing changes in the structure of the IT marketplace and how IT will be managed moving forward."Also, the SANS Institute published a survey of 700 IT and security professionals in December 2012 that found that only 14% of companies perform security reviews on every commercial application brought in house, and over half of other companies do not perform security assessments. Instead companies either rely on vendor reputation (25%) and legal liability agreements (14%) or they have no policies for dealing with COTS at all and therefore have limited visibility into the risks introduced into their software supply chain by COTS.
In the medical device industry, COTS software can sometimes be identified as SOUP (software of unknown pedigree or software of unknown provenance), i.e., software that has not been developed with a known software development process or methodology, which precludes its use in medical devices.In this industry, faults in software components could become system failures in the device itself if the steps are not taken to ensure fair and safe standards are complied with. The standard IEC 62304:2006 "Medical device software – Software life cycle processes" outlines specific practices to ensure that SOUP components support the safety requirements for the device being developed. In the case where the software components are COTS, DHS best practices for COTS software risk review can be applied. Simply being COTS software does not necessarily imply the lack of a fault history or transparent software development process. For well documented COTS software a distinction as clear SOUP is made, meaning that it may be used in medical devices.
A striking example of product obsolescence is the Condor Cluster, a US Air Force supercomputer built out of 1,760 Sony PlayStation 3s running the Linux operating system. Sony disabled the use of Linux on the PS3 in April 2010,leaving no means to procure functioning Linux replacement units. In general, COTS product obsolescence can require customized support or development of a replacement system. Such obsolescence problems have led to government-industry partnerships, where various businesses agree to stabilize some product versions for government use and plan some future features, in those product lines, as a joint effort. Hence, some partnerships have led to complaints of favoritism, to avoiding competitive procurement practices, and to claims of the use of sole-source agreements where not actually needed.
There is also the danger of pre-purchasing a multi-decade supply of replacement parts (and materials) which would become obsolete within 10 years. All these considerations lead to compare a simple solution (such as "paper & pencil") to avoid overly complex solutions creating a "Rube Goldberg" system of creeping featurism, where a simple solution would have sufficed instead.[ clarification needed ] Such comparisons also consider whether a group is creating a make-work system to justify extra funding, rather than providing a low-cost system which meets the basic needs, regardless of the use of COTS products.
Applying the lessons of processor obsolescence learned during the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II planned for processor upgrades during development, and switched to the more widely supported C++ programming language. They have also moved from ASICs to FPGAs. This moves more of the avionic design from fixed circuits to software that can be applied to future generations of hardware.
COTS components are part of upgrades to the sonar of United States Navy submarines.
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is the integrated management of main business processes, often in real time and mediated by software and technology.
A Linux distribution is an operating system made from a software collection that is based upon the Linux kernel and, often, a package management system. Linux users usually obtain their operating system by downloading one of the Linux distributions, which are available for a wide variety of systems ranging from embedded devices and personal computers to powerful supercomputers.
In computing, firmware is a specific class of computer software that provides the low-level control for a device's specific hardware. Firmware can either provide a standardized operating environment for more complex device software, or, for less complex devices, act as the device's complete operating system, performing all control, monitoring and data manipulation functions.
A software company is a company whose primary products are various forms of software, software technology, distribution, and software product development. They make up the software industry.
In economics and industrial design, planned obsolescence is a policy of planning or designing a product with an artificially limited useful life or a purposely frail design, so that it becomes obsolete after a certain pre-determined period of time upon which it decrementally functions or suddenly ceases to function, or might be perceived as unfashionable. The rationale behind this strategy is to generate long-term sales volume by reducing the time between repeat purchases. It is the deliberate shortening of a lifespan of a product to force people to purchase functional replacements.
Upgrading is the process of replacing a product with a newer version of the same product. In computing and consumer electronics an upgrade is generally a replacement of hardware, software or firmware with a newer or better version, in order to bring the system up to date or to improve its characteristics.
A laboratory information management system (LIMS), sometimes referred to as a laboratory information system (LIS) or laboratory management system (LMS), is a software-based solution with features that support a modern laboratory's operations. Key features include—but are not limited to—workflow and data tracking support, flexible architecture, and data exchange interfaces, which fully "support its use in regulated environments". The features and uses of a LIMS have evolved over the years from simple sample tracking to an enterprise resource planning tool that manages multiple aspects of laboratory informatics.
Customised software is software that is specially developed for some specific organization or other user. As such, it can be contrasted with the use of software packages developed for the mass market, such as commercial off-the-shelf software, or existing free software.
A terminal server enables organizations to connect devices with a serial port to a local area network (LAN). Products marketed as terminal servers can be very simple devices that do not offer any security functionality, such as data encryption and user authentication. The primary application scenario is to enable serial devices to access network server applications, or vice versa, where security of the data on the LAN is not generally an issue. There are also many terminal servers on the market that have highly advanced security functionality to ensure that only qualified personnel can access various servers and that any data that is transmitted across the LAN, or over the Internet, is encrypted. Usually, companies that need a terminal server with these advanced functions want to remotely control, monitor, diagnose and troubleshoot equipment over a telecommunications network.
Computer-aided production engineering (CAPE) is a relatively new and significant branch of engineering. Global manufacturing has changed the environment in which goods are produced. Meanwhile, the rapid development of electronics and communication technologies has required design and manufacturing to keep pace.
A custom-built or homebuilt computer is a computer assembled from available components, usually commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components, rather than purchased as a complete system from a computer system supplier, also known as pre-built systems.
A proprietary device driver is a closed-source device driver published only in binary code. In the context of free and open-source software, a closed-source device driver is referred to as a blob or binary blob. The term usually refers to a closed-source kernel module loaded into the kernel of an open-source operating system, and is sometimes also applied to code running outside the kernel, such as system firmware images, microcode updates, or userland programs. The term blob was first used in database management systems to describe a collection of binary data stored as a single entity.
Government off-the-shelf (GOTS) is a term for software and hardware government products that are ready to use and which were created and are owned by a government agency.
A computer appliance is a computer with software or firmware that is specifically designed to provide a specific computing resource. Such devices became known as appliances because of the similarity in role or management to a home appliance, which are generally closed and sealed, and are not serviceable by the user or owner. The hardware and software are delivered as an integrated product and may even be pre-configured before delivery to a customer, to provide a turn-key solution for a particular application. Unlike general purpose computers, appliances are generally not designed to allow the customers to change the software and the underlying operating system, or to flexibly reconfigure the hardware.
Proprietary software, also known as non-free software, is computer software for which the software's publisher or another person reserves some rights from licensees to use, modify, share modifications, or share the software. It sometimes includes patent rights.
SOUP stands for software of unknownpedigree, and is a term often used in the context of safety-critical and safety-involved systems such as medical software. SOUP is software that has not been developed with a known software development process or methodology, or which has unknown or no safety-related properties.
An enterprise appliance transaction module (EATM) is a device, typically used in the manufacturing automation marketplace, for the transfer of plant floor equipment and product status to manufacturing execution systems (MES), enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and the like.
Supply chain cyber security refers to efforts to enhance cyber security within the supply chain. It is a subset of supply chain security and is focused on the management of cyber security requirements for information technology systems, software and networks, which are driven by threats such as cyber-terrorism, malware, data theft and the advanced persistent threat (APT). Typical supply chain cyber security activities for minimizing risks include buying only from trusted vendors, disconnecting critical machines from outside networks, and educating users on the threats and protective measures they can take.
Smack is a Linux kernel security module that protects data and process interaction from malicious manipulation using a set of custom mandatory access control (MAC) rules, with simplicity as its main design goal. It has been officially merged since the Linux 2.6.25 release, it was the main access control mechanism for the MeeGo mobile Operating System. It is also used to sandbox HTML5 web applications in the Tizen architecture, in the commercial Wind River Linux solutions for embedded device development, in Philips Digital TV products., and in Intel's Ostro OS for IoT devices.
The Open Trusted Technology Provider™ Standard (O-TTPS) is a standard of The Open Group that has also been approved for publication as an Information Technology standard by the International Organization of Standardization and the International Electrotechnical Commission through ISO/IEC JTC 1 and is now also known as ISO/IEC 20243:2015. The standard consists of a set of guidelines, requirements, and recommendations that align with best practices for global supply chain security and the integrity of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) information and communication technology (ICT) products. It is currently in version 1.1. A Chinese translation has also been published.