Commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) is a term defining technology which is ready-made and available for sale, lease, or license to the general public.
COTS purchases are alternatives to in-house developments or one-off government-funded developments. COTS typically requires configuration that is tailored for specific uses.
The use of COTS has been mandated across many government and business programs, as such products may offer significant savings in procurement, development, and maintenance.
Motivations for using COTS components include hopes for reduction of overall system development and costs (as components can be bought or licensed instead of being developed from scratch) and reduced long-term maintenance costs.