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COTS vs aPaaS: When 80% isn't Good Enough

Appian Contributor
February 14, 2018

Commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software has long been the answer for many government needs. However, with the potential to have such a large impact on how businesses approach IT, Application Platform-as-a-Service (aPaaS) is certainly the future for any organization that is serious about IT modernization efforts.

This is because aPaaS holds the key to digital transformation. It's the underlying technology that allows government agencies to rapidly build and customize innovative applications to revolutionize the way you work internally and deliver new services to your constituents.


The 80/20 Rule

Historically, public and private sector organizations have employed an 80/20 rule when considering a build versus buy' solution decision. According to the rule, if you failed to discover a product that satisfies at least 80 percent of your requirements, you would consider building a solution or accept a COTS solution as good enough'. The problem with either of these choices was you were destined to be unsatisfied: either the custom solution took too long to build or you discover the remaining 20 percent of your requirements were actually critical to your success. You are also very likely to discover that you lost the agility that you need to best support the mission over time.

The traditional custom solution approach, and underlying technology, make changes a time consuming and costly effort. While the COTS solution provider's approach to supporting a customer base means slow, generic changes over time which are not necessarily aligned with your needs.


The 100% Solution

As technology has evolved, more and more organizations are turning towards aPaaS to satisfy their requirements, and achieve the 100% solution, while also reducing the cost of their legacy infrastructure. Currently, agencies are being forced to make tough decisions on which applications require modernization and how to prioritize. Making the transition to aPaaS enables agencies to tackle a wide variety of use cases quickly and cost-effectively.

Although operations and maintenance (O&M) costs will never be eliminated, with aPaaS, further funds can be allocated toward new technologies, rather than maintaining antiquated ones. In a report by Forrester Research, the measured economic value of customers interviewed for the report totaled over $28M over a three year period.


Reduce Your Operations and Maintenance Spending

Here are four ways an aPaaS for application development can ultimately reduce your organization's O&M spending:

    • Within your public sector agency, multiple applications can be deployed on the same set of infrastructure. Additionally, unlike COTS point solutions, these applications can serve virtually any function that an agency performs.

    • Integration components are shared by developers, which ultimately reduces the level of effort to tie new applications into an existing legacy environment.

    • By leveraging aPaaS for development, your organization can easily build and deploy native mobile applications, removing the responsibility for maintaining and testing code against multiple mobile operating system versions.

    • Deploying your applications on a managed, FedRAMP certified cloud reduces the need to spend on IT security to maintain the environment.

aPaaS is the perfect driver for innovation within public sector, as it gives organizations the flexibility they need for rapid, agile development. Through aPaaS and Appian, federal agencies can now create and deploy applications 10x faster. Legacy applications from multiple vendors can also be consolidated into a single platform view, with a single sign-on for employees that provides a common operating picture and better user experience. All of this requires fewer budget dollars from a support and architecture standpoint, and eliminates expensive modernization efforts that would have to occur in a singular fashion for each application that requires it.


Benefits of the Cloud

To further cost savings, The Appian Platform is available in the cloud with the security certifications government agencies need in order to ensure a well governed and compliant solution. This can dramatically reduce overhead costs for maintaining systems while allowing the vendor to manage uptime. Moving to the cloud also ensures a clear upgrade path for future releases, all handled by the vendor.

With the potential to have such a large impact on how public sector approach IT, aPaaS is certainly the future for any organization that is serious about innovating and achieving mission success. Visit our Federal resource center to learn how your agency can harness the power of the Appian Platform to uncover strategies for high-speed, cost-effective IT modernization that fit your specific organization demands.

Brian Chidester

Industry Marketing Lead - Public Sector