October 18, 2023

COTS vs. GOTS Software: Navigating Modernization in Government and the Military

For government agencies and military departments, the choice between commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) and government off-the-shelf (GOTS) software solutions has been a timeless debate. GOTS, born out of necessity in the 1960s and 1970s, was a response to the absence of readily available commercial computerized software. However, in the year 2020, the era of modernization dawned upon civilian agencies and the military, driven by a pressing need to enhance efficiency and cost-effectiveness. 



The Challenges of Embracing GOTS  

The adoption of GOTS software, while sometimes unavoidable, comes with its fair share of challenges. Custom-built software can be exorbitantly expensive, often requiring significant financial investments. Although there are cases where a department may genuinely need custom software, such as the Naval Simulation System, in most situations, it's not economically justifiable. 

Moreover, custom-built software projects tend to be personnel-intensive, leading to prolonged adoption timelines. Developing software from scratch can span several years, creating inefficiencies. Furthermore, upgrades to GOTS software are generally less frequent, which can result in limitations in terms of features and interoperability with other systems. 


The Advantages of COTS Software  

In contrast, COTS software is offered by companies that are experts in their respective fields and are committed to innovation. Commercial software benefits from multiple users providing feedback, enabling frequent refinements and updates. The vast client base of COTS software providers ensures robust support structures and timely issue resolution. 

Additionally, COTS software tends to be more cost-effective and quicker to implement. You're not starting from scratch, and you don't need to hire developer personnel or outsource to contractors. This efficiency is especially crucial in today's fast-paced world. 


COTS Software in Action: The Rise of Learning Management Systems (LMS)  

Learning management systems (LMS) are a prime example of COTS software gaining popularity in both civilian government and the military. Security accreditation programs like FedRAMP and IL4 have made it possible for companies to adapt and develop LMS solutions to meet the stringent security needs of the government.


Anthology's Commitment to Innovation and Security  

For over a decade, Anthology's Blackboard® Learn has been a trusted training tool for the US military and government. As pioneers in the adoption of FedRAMP and one of the first LMS providers to soon roll out Blackboard Learn with IL4 security accreditation, we prioritize security and innovation. 

Our commitment to excellence is evident in our client engagement. We actively seek and act upon client feedback, driving monthly updates to enhance Blackboard Learn continually. Our dedicated accounts teams stand ready to support your department's mission and ensure a seamless adoption process. 

As you embark on the journey of modernization and reimagining learning and development, discover the Blackboard Learn difference. Choose the efficiency, security, and innovation of COTS software, and empower your organization to thrive in the modern age. 

Topics: LMS, Government
Headshot of Celena Westlund

Celena Westlund

Senior Marketing Manager for Business and Government

Westlund joined Anthology in 2021, bringing nearly 11 years of government and marketing experience, including over 7 years at the U.S. Institute of Peace and 3.5 years at a MarTech company. In her role at Anthology, she works to create awareness and demand for our EdTech solutions in federal, state, and local governments, and within corporate entities. Westlund graduated from Washington State University with an M.A. in strategic communication and previously earned an M.A. from American University in international peace and conflict resolution, with a focus on conflict in the Southern Balkans.