COTS software licensing
Decision criteria for operations cutover to the new software
New requirements and the software update process
New release integration and test
Operations always comes first
This point cannot be overstated. Every operator will tell you, “No matter what happens, Icannot interrupt Ops." A typical operations environment is a buzz of activity, andstopping the center for a week to install, configure, and test new software is not anoption. Installation must be done without causing interruptions, which slows transition toa crawl. So, if you look at the schedule for integrating COTS software and wonder whyit's moving to the right, just look at the title of this section.
Initially, the operational environment might not have enough hardware to support aCOTS tool, since ops centers are frequently configured to strictly support operations andhave few excess processors available. Therefore, you should look at the current hardwareconfiguration and a plan to upgrade it if possible. Sometimes, contractor-providedsoftware must run by itself on specific hardware. In this case, a complete hardwarereplacement might be necessary. Fortunately, COTS software typically runs on modernmachines with popularly available operating systems. Computers are relativelyinexpensive and can be purchased in quantity for substantial discounts. When buyinghardware to support COTS tools, never buy the minimum or even the recommendedhardware configuration. Upgrading to a superior configuration will be well worth theextra cost, because upgrading computers at this time will minimize future disruptions of operations.
Operational simulation environment
One way to lower the risk of installing COTS in an operational environment is to purchase hardware and set up a “laboratory” of sorts. The COTS tool can then beinstalled, configured, and used as a training site prior to actual operations. As a side benefit, all future upgrades can be made in the simulation environment, assuring thesoftware works properly. Don't be fooled, though; operational simulation environmentswill at least double hardware and software expenses, and maintenance costs can be high.But the knowledge gained without interrupting operations can be priceless.
While COTS software significantly reduces overall contract costs for operations, somecustomization is generally necessary to meet specific needs of each environment. Theamount will depend on the operations performed and the operators’ skill levels.If the operational environment is mainly an analysis shop with few repetitive tasks,customization can be minimal, since COTS tools are best in these situations. On the other hand, if many of the same products are produced daily, more customization is likely,since a COTS tool cannot know what daily products are necessary, and should be2