First, a Metaphor

Let’s say that you’re in need of a vehicle. You’ve come across a car salesman who wants to sell you a Toyota with the latest features and good gas mileage. It will fit your needs, and the price comes in at $27,000 brand new. It’s worth considering. You meet another car salesman who wants to sell you another car, which has similar features and comparable gas mileage, that will also fit your needs at a $21,000 price tag. The salesperson won’t tell you what make/model car this is, but after some sleuthing you guess that it’s a Lifan– a budget Chinese car manufacturer. Which vehicle do you choose?

Most cars you see come from a well-known factory brand, like Toyota or Ford. You rarely see cars from lesser-known manufacturers driving around (Lifan or JAC, anyone?), and for good reason.

All cars will eventually need service. You’ll either want to do maintenance yourself, hire a mechanic, or both. If you’re a car-savvy person and want to do the work yourself, it could be tough to learn a strange model car yourself or get your hands on a readable manual.

All cars will eventually need parts. If it is a lesser-known car brand or model, parts are going to be more expensive and typically not sold by your everyday mechanic or auto parts dealer. You also may have to wait longer to have them shipped from overseas.

You want a manufacturer you trust. Lesser-known car manufacturers don’t have the widely available reputation or the wealth of online resources and reviews that others have. You won’t know how long to expect this vehicle to last or when you’ll have to do a major repair.

COTS & Cars

Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) hardware is, in this metaphor, the well-known car brand.

Although COTS hardware is potentially expensive up front, it saves time, agony, and often cost in the long-haul. Replacing parts and maintaining the equipment is vastly easier because anyone can find and order replacement parts, even your own IT team. With COTS hardware, you can feel in control of your own computer hardware.

Remember to consider what equipment would suit you and your IT team because you can buy ready-to-use COTS hardware and know that your IT team (or car mechanic) can save you money, time and overall grant you freedom.

Exacom uses COTS hardware from Dell, and we are confident that our hardware will not only perform better but be also be easier and less expensive to maintain than non-COTS hardware.

Dell t-5820 Server