Problems in Integrating COTS Components

We know that there is a need to integrate COTS components with several different systems to get a new large complex system. In this section, problems which developers have to deal with in specifying requirements for integration are discussed. Not all the problems in the area are covered, but most serious problems are covered. Since it is an ongoing process the list of problems keeps on growing. Some common problems are as follows.

To Find Details of Available Products

These applications are very complex, it is very difficult to test these applications in a probing manner. Customers cannot set up the system themselves; it is the supplier’s job to set up the systems. Suppliers would take couple of weeks to set them up.

One solution is for the customer to work together with the supplier to get to know their product, but it is not a good solution because this process takes a lot of time. Another drawback is that the customer’s requirements are based on a particular system on which they worked closely, but this may unintentionally exclude other good suppliers. Also, customers do not know how to explain problems so that it remains supplier dependent.

Customers may read about the success of other companies’ products, although, the products are very fast-paced and it gives a different image of what is available now. If this happens, then the customer has make a final selection which meets their requirements and selection criteria.

Not a Fixed Product Scope

The customer may not be sure about the size of product. At the initial phase a customer does not know about the platform, whether it is middleware, or it is already rolled out to customers. Choices for the same applications vary from customer to customer. Suppliers might provide the above-mentioned products or they may integrate a third-party product.

Many customers think that the entire system may be divided into modules and one can purchase modules. It may be seen easily from past experience that both applications and middleware are so closely connected that it is not easy to port from one middleware to another although they claim to strictly follow open standards, e.g„ CORBA and J2EE (Gorton and Liu, 2002, 2003). The results in a situation where COTS products are not available. Choosing and buying middleware first is a good strategy if the rest are developed from scratch. If the rest are COTS products, then this process is not going to work properly.

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