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    Custom Software Development: The Best Alternative to of COTS

    Packaged applications or commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) applications are made available by popular software vendors. Before the popularity of Custom software development, COTS was the default choice for every industry. COTS software vendors have created solutions literally for every sector or necessity. COTS software is available for various data warehouses, sales, customer management, middleware, server, and many more applications.

    Traditionally, COTS apps were preferred because there was a belief that the total cost of ownership (TCO) decreases over some time. But for a long time, it has been known that COTS apps are not fully leveraged. Customized software defeats the purpose of COTS because off-the-shelf means as per customer need. Customers have complained about the costs associated with customizations which, instead of lowering TCO, increases TCO. But if you want long-term benefits, then utilizing Custom software development services is a good idea.

    Why are Some Organizations Moving Away from COTS and Adopting Custom Software Applications?

    Move to Cloud from On-premise

    On-premise installations are being migrated to the cloud through Custom software development services by numerous companies. Even enterprises that traditionally were reluctant to move to the cloud are doing it with conviction.

    Open Source Revolution

    With an onsite cloud paradigm, and the option to go for open-source services, the need for COTS is reducing. Customers prefer a mix of commercial and open-source services. Hence customers see viability in choosing Custom software development services to de-tangle vendor lock-ins.

    The proliferation of open-source technologies has created more opportunities for organizations to diversify their application portfolios. They can utilize the services of Custom software development firms to help build applications based on open-source technologies. By doing this, not only are organizations reducing their TCOs but also creating highly integratible applications.

    Standardization Erosion

    COTS was highly preferred because software offered a degree of standardization. The functional and non-functional aspects of COTS software were standardized. Be it performance, integrate-ability, portability, security, plugin compatibility, standard functions, etc., most COTS software operates on a standardized plane.

    But standardization patterns in COTS are not a strong business driver for organizations to consider COTS over custom software.

    Enterprises have also changed their stance. From being inward-centric, they are now outward-centric. Meaning; that enterprises are purely customer-focused. Another issue is that customer engagement differs across geographies. Some countries or geographical regions have more technological advancements than others. COTS cannot cater to such variations as much as Custom software development can.

    Cloud Unready

    COTS is still catching up. And this is not an ideal thing to do in the fast-moving software technology landscape. Either go off on a separate tangent and offer a USP or build a robust future-proof product from scratch. Several COTS software were never produced with the future in mind. Making such COTS applications cloud-ready, IoT-ready, or AI/ML-ready could become a clumsy affair, whereas it is easy to create future-ready applications with Custom software development.

    The cloud paradigm is versatile, hyperflexible, and constantly evolving. From social technology integrations to mobility to data analytics, a typical cloud-ready application is fully capable of interface with as many cloud capabilities. The architectural inability of many COTS apps makes customers go the Custom software development way to evolve as per the market trends.

    Although many product vendors have tried to adapt their COTS products to the cloud with upgrades, the applications could only operate on limited hardware. Customers aren’t impressed because scalability, hardware virtualization, and plug-and-play modes are some of the pillars of cloud deployment. Several COTS applications are built to operate on specific hardware or dedicated hardware. Running such applications on the cloud may not be optimal, which is a stark contrast to Custom software development apps that are almost always cloud-ready.

    Customers and software purchasers worldwide are working with Custom software development services to bridge this gap. They seek the services of such organizations to migrate their applications to the cloud and help build new cloud-ready application portfolios.

    SMAC Disruption

    Social, mobile, analytics, cloud (SMAC) technologies affect enterprises individually. The convergence of these technologies is what enterprises aim for. Leveraging SMAC helps companies reach closer to their customers. Organizations use technology, build their stacks, and rely less on COTS applications to align to SMAC. By creating their tech and working with Custom software development companies to build internal platforms, companies are tapping into SMAC.

    COTS has a more generic flavor, and a generalized solution could result in “functional wastage.” But companies want more specialized applications and are thus seeking Custom software development companies to help them build such applications.

    Also, COTS is not data-friendly – because to be data-driven, it should be open-source friendly. The increase in structured/unstructured data created by devices has created the need for data-driven approaches. Wearable technology, sensors, connected devices, social media, mobile devices, website browsing, and loyalty card promotional programs – all of these contexts generate data.

    Cloud computing provides a way to converge SMAC technologies. It enables enterprises to respond to market signals quickly. The highly dynamic nature of SMAC means that Custom software development is probably the only way to leverage SMAC the right way.

    Complex Integration

    Many COTS applications have complex architectures. An attempt to make COTS products “one size fits all” has resulted in many of them having complex, inscrutable architectures. Adding to the technological stagnation is the snail’s pace of addition of new features by COTS vendors. The use of proprietary technologies means that COTS vendors have a limited supply of resources to work on application customization programs. The short collection of niche skills-sets means that COTS applications are always catching up, but non-elegant, whereas Custom software development is ahead of the curve.

    COTS applications usually have their application data storage and retrieval mechanisms. This includes proprietary data models and databases operating upon individualized APIs. So it is not a surprise to hear customers complaining about the integration chagrins of COTS software when compared to the ease of integrations offered by Custom software development vendors. Customers would leave their COTS product portfolio alone than think of writing integrations around it. They eventually work with custom software vendors to help them build this capability or help them build bespoke applications to support their expansion requirements.

    Pace of Innovation

    Custom software programs are already future-proof. A custom software web, mobile, or desktop application will integrate easily with bleeding-edge technologies several years down the line. This is not as much about the architecture as it is about the pace of innovation. Custom software development providers can implement upgrades and customizations faster. COTS vendors’ innovation pace is stifled due to consensus, production overheads, and administrative constraints.

    Unlike a COTS vendor, a software shop specializing in Custom software development is highly agile and nimble-footed. Its organizational structure is versatile and adaptable. Such a company can also engage with contractors whenever needed. The intent is to be ahead of the innovation curve so that customers can seize opportunities in a tight competitive landscape.


    Organizations want simple product portfolios. COTS applications may not allow this. An organization could be using multiple COTS applications but using only a fraction of the features that the entire COTS applications offer put together. Being billed for the whole functional list and not using all the components is not an efficient way to do business. Instead, organizations prefer to work with Custom software development firms to build modular applications, either on-premises or cloud-based.


    Integrative Systems offers Custom software development for the web, mobile, desktop, and cloud. The custom-designed software solutions address unique business challenges. By being future-ready, these applications provide infinite opportunities for transforming businesses in myriad ways. Contact Integrative Systems [email protected] if you have a project in mind or are looking for a partner to customize your existing project.

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