COTS-Based Systems (CBS) Functional Density—A Heuristic for Better CBS Design

  • Chris Abts
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 2255)


The conventional rationale for using COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) components is that the more a software system is built from COTS products, the lower the cost of initial development. Less understood is that during the long term sustainment phase—from deployment through retirement—the cost of maintenance of a COTS-based system generally increases as the number of COTS products used increases. There exists then a tension between the imperative to maximize the use of COTS components to ease CBS development yet minimize the use of COTS components to ease CBS maintenance. A heuristic called the “CBS Functional Density Rule” is proposed to reconcile these two conflicting views. A corresponding metric for characterizing the “efficiency” of a given CBS design relative to another called the “COTS Functional Density” is then suggested. The paper concludes with suggestions for additional research to further validate the empirical foundations of the proposed heuristic and associated metric.


Function Point System Functionality Life Cycle Cost Software Cost Estimation Equilibrium Threshold 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Barr, A. and Tessler, S.: An Overview of the Software Industry. Stanford Computer Industry Project, Palo Alto, CA, June (1995), Scholar
  2. 3.
    Lateef, A.: Linking Up with the Global Economy: a Case Study of the Bangalore Software Industry. Chapter 2, Sect. 2.3, International Institute for Labour Studies, United Nations International Labour Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, (1997), Scholar
  3. 4.
    Maxson, E.: The Software Crisis. Boise State University, Boise, Idaho, May (2001), Scholar
  4. 6.
    Brooks, F.P., Jr.: No Silver Bullet: Essence and Accidents of Software Engineering. Computer, IEEE Computer Society, Washington, D.C., April (1987).Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    Abts, C. and Boehm, B.: COTS Software Integration Cost Modeling Study. USCCSE tech. Report 98-520, USC Center for Software Engineering, Los Angeles, CA, (1997).Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Lewis, P., Hyle, P., Parrington, M., Clark, E., Boehm, B., Abts, C. and Manners, B.: Lessons Learned in Developing Commercial-O.-The-Shelf (COTS) Intensive Software Systems. FAA Software Engineering Resource Center, Atlantic City, NJ, October (2000).Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    Albert, C. and Morris, E.: Commercial Item Acquisition: Considerations and Lessons Learned. CMU Software Engineering Institute, Pittsburgh, PA, June (2000).Google Scholar
  8. 10.
    Abts, C., Boehm, B. and Bailey Clark, B.: COCOTS: a COTS software integration cost model. Proceedings ESCOM-SCOPE 2000 Conference, Munich, Germany, (2000).Google Scholar
  9. 11.
    Boehm, B., Abts, C., Brown, A., Chulani, S., Clark, B., Horowitz, E., Madachy, R., Reifer, D. and Steece, B.: Software Cost Estimation with COCOMO II. Prentice Hall PTR, Upper Saddle River, NJ, July (2000).Google Scholar
  10. 12.
    Abts, C.: A Perspective on the Economic Life Span of COTS-based Software Systems: the COTS-LIMO Model. Proceedings of the COTS Software Systems Workshop held in conjunction with ICSE 2000, Limerick, Ireland, May (2000).Google Scholar
  11. 13.
    Garmus, D., and Herron, D.: Measuring the Software Process. Prentice Hall PTR, Upper Saddle River, NJ, (1996).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chris Abts
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

Personalised recommendations