The SEI's COTS-based systems (CBS) work focuses on improving the
technologies and practices used for assembling previously existing components
(COTS and other non-developmental items) into large software systems, and
migrating existing systems toward CBS approaches.
The CBS approach changes the focus of software engineering from one of
traditional system specification and construction to one requiring simultaneous
consideration of the system context (system characteristics such as
requirements, cost, schedule,operating and support environments), capabilities
of products in the marketplace, and viable architectures and designs.
The effect of this fundamental change is profound. Not only must engineering
activities such as requirements specification change to support simultaneous
consideration of system context, architecture and design, and the marketplace,
but so must acquisition processes and contracting strategies. For example,
integration contractors and commercial product vendors must be treated as
partners and rewarded for identifying the best value to be achieved through the
use of COTS products.
While some organizations have achieved success by embracing the fundamental
change, the development of COTS-based systems continues to involve significant
technical risk and promises of lower cost, higher reliability and easier
modernization are often unfulfilled.
The SEI was challenged with developing a systematic
and predictable discipline for the engineering and management of
COTS-based systems in order to assist organizations in realizing the broad CBS
The SEI CBS work has focused on
three primary categories of practices: