Masthead Corporate Logo
Search  Advanced

The Mil & Aero Blog

Bookmark this Blog Subscribe to an RSS Feed of this Blog.
<< Home

Sick of the COTS acronyms yet?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I reported a story last year on the benefits of using custom-designed electronics over COTS (commercial-off-the-shelf) products. Since Secretary Perry issued that COTS initiative in the 1990s many different acronyms have entered our vocabulary as defense suppliers tried to get a handle on how they and their products fit under COTS.

The intent was to eliminate excessive spending that brought about those infamous $600 toilet seats and $400 hammers. While that has been accomplished it seems we have also tortured our language with excessive acronyms.

When COTS was first introduced, many companies created marketing synonyms such as MOTS (military-off-the-shelf), ROTS (rugged-off-the-shelf), and GOTS (government-off-the-shelf). This was mostly marketing mumbo jumbo and all the terms were basically COTS. Some new terms include MOTS, now called modified-off-the-shelf, NOTS (NATO or niche off-the-shelf), KOTS (kinda-off-the-shelf) and the all encompassing other COTS (custom-off-the-shelf).

Many COTS vendors say that their customers typically choose a product from parts list and ask for it to be tweaked for their specific application. This is where the term custom off-the-shelf is coming from. Another way to describe it would be value-added COTS.

Basically everyone has a different definition of COTS from the military program manager all the way down to the component vendor. Maybe it is as one defense supplier says, "COTS is whatever my customer says it is."

What I'd like to know is how do you define COTS?

Is there an acronym I missed in my research?

Is it possible to write an entire paragraph entirely with military acronyms?

I dare you to try.

-John McHale

Post a Comment

Blogger Keld said...
This is interesting. Who originated the term KOTS (Kinda Off-The-Shelf). NOt that it is original, but I used this in a presentation 2 years ago unaware that it was a defined term. Just curious.

Keld Petersen
Wednesday, January 30, 2008 11:47:00 AM EST  

Blogger JMchale said...
Keld, the first time I heard the term KOTS was a few months ago in a meeting with an executive from Cisco Systems. I haven't seen it "defined" in print anywhere other than this blog and my previous article.

Thanks again for your comments. My response to your post and your second post were accidentally deleted by our webmaster, so I reposted mine. Please repost if you wish.
Friday, February 1, 2008 11:56:00 AM EST  

Blogger Neal H said...
John, you dared us to write an entire paragraph entirely with military acroynms. My boss claims to have heard such a sentence during a meeting but the closest I can find is extracted from meeting minutes stating as an action that "SM47 now TEMO. Copy of UFR to be sent to FINS2b". The odd semblence of English crept it but nevertheless totally non-sensical to the uninitiated! Who needs encryption?
Monday, August 18, 2008 11:26:00 AM EDT  

<< Home

Welcome to the lighter side of Military & Aerospace Electronics. This is where our staff recount tales of the strange, the weird, and the otherwise offbeat. We could put news here, but we have the rest of our Website for that. Enjoy our scribblings, and feel free to add your own opinions. You might also get to know us in the process. Proceed at your own risk.

John Keller for MAE
John Keller is editor-in-chief of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, which provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronic and optoelectronic technologies in military, space, and commercial aviation applications. A member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since the magazine's founding in 1989, Mr. Keller took over as chief editor in 1995.

Courtney Howard for MAE Courtney E. Howard is senior editor of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine. She is responsible for writing news stories and feature articles for the print publication, as well as composing daily news for the magazine's Website and assembling the weekly electronic newsletter. Her features have appeared in such high-tech trade publications as Military & Aerospace Electronics, Computer Graphics World, Electronic Publishing, Small Times, and The Audio Amateur.

John McHale for MAE John McHale is executive editor of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, where he has been covering the defense Industry for more than dozen years. During that time he also led PennWell's launches of magazines and shows on homeland security and a defense publication and website in Europe. Mr. McHale has served as chairman of the Military & Aerospace Electronics Forum and its Advisory Council since 2004. He lives in Boston with his golf clubs.