Thursday, May 19, 2005

It's COTS to be Good

Commercial-Off-The-Shelf software plays a critical role in every enterprise -- and for good reason. There's little justification for someone to go off and build a custom solution where a proven application package already exists that can satisfy an organization's needs.

COTS applications architecturally resemble a value chain with back-office on the left and front-office on the right, as illustrated in the graphic below. Click on the image to view a more legible Flash version that can be zoomed by clicking on the right-hand button of your mouse.

In the above graphic, goods and services flow from left-to-right while money moves from right-to-left.

Enterprises that purchase lots of COTS products from many different vendors can often find themselves drowning in a thick broth of "architecture soup". On the other hand, be very wary of business managers who sincerely believe that all their IT problems will
simply disappear by merely adopting the architecture of their favorite COTS vendor.

COTS software is very different than Infrastructure software. It's targeted directly to the business customer rather than to IT. As such, it can really help if a CIO fully grasps Deal Architecture. For help and advice on this topic, you might want to check out Vinnie Mirchandani's blog.


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