<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none;" alt="" src="https://dc.ads.linkedin.com/collect/?pid=235929&amp;fmt=gif">
Blogs by Trenton Systems

What is COTS (Commercial-off-the-Shelf)?

Trenton Systems Warehouse

When evaluating computers for use in an application, customers often have a choice between commercial (standard) or custom products. Some applications can be served by standard products, whereas others have specific needs that require a custom solution. 

In this blog, you'll learn what COTS is and how Trenton develops custom solutions aligned with our customers' technical, performance, and environmental specifications.

What is COTS?

COTS, or commercial-off-the-shelf, is a product that remains "as is." This means that the hardware is a standard product that already exists and is available from commercial sources. 

COTS products are designed to be easily installed and interoperate with existing system components. 

Some of the benefits of using COTS products are lower costs, reduced development time, faster insertion of new technology, and lower lifecycle costs resulting from using readily available and up-to-date products. 

What is MOTS?

MOTS, or modified-off-the-shelf, is COTS hardware that can be modified by the purchaser, vendor, or a third party to meet customer requirements.

In a military context, MOTS refers to a COTS product that is developed or customized by a commercial vendor in response to requirements.  

What is a custom solution?

A custom solution refers to a product that is designed specifically for a customer, not just a modified version of a previously existing product.

Custom products can become commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) if they can be used for a variety of applications and/or customer requirements. 

What is Trenton's process?  

Trenton Systems offers COTS, MOTS, and customized high-performance computing solutions in both rack-mount and small form factor

At a high level, our products typically begin as a customized solution for a specific customer, and then they can become commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS). After that, they can also become modified-off-the-shelf (MOTS). 

Let's take a look at each step of this process in detail: 

Creating custom solutions 

We are asked to create a solution for a specific application that is not a standard product offering. 

For example, a company comes to us and says they need a modular blade solution with two removable processor blades, a customizable I/O board, DDR4 RAM, and 100GB Ethernet. This will be used in a naval program that requires rapid processing of data in order to detect, track, and engage with enemy threats. 

This product will be delivered to the customer and this customer only

From custom to COTS 

We find out that the aforementioned product can be used in a wide variety of sea, land, air, space, and cyber domain applications that require enhanced computing capabilities.

As a result, Trenton Systems may market the product as a standard offering to our entire audience if there are no existing NDA restrictions. Since we have made the product widely available, it has now become a commercial-off-the-shelf product (COTS). 

From COTS to MOTS 

Now, let's say that someone sees this product on our website and likes everything about it, but they want to make a minor change to the I/O board. 

When this change is made, the product then becomes a modified-off-the-shelf product (MOTS).   

We can do it all!

Irrespective of where customers are in the process, we can make minor tweaks to existing products or build you a full-custom solution if that's the only way to satisfy the needs of the program. 

Custom solutions can become COTS solutions when promoted to a wider audience, and COTS solutions can become MOTS solutions when slight modifications need to be made.

Any type of solution can become the other, and below is an easy-to-understand illustration. 

COTS Diagram

Irrespective of where customers are in the process, we can make minor tweaks to existing products or build you a full-custom solution if that's the only way to satisfy the needs of the program. 


Our COTS, MOTS, and custom solutions are used in a variety of applications spanning from C6ISR, signal intelligence (SIGINT), electronic intelligence (ELINT), and electronic warfare (EW).

"Trenton's customers have ready access to our dedicated sales, engineering, and support teams, so they can articulate their requirements for solutions and ask questions about product functionality, maintenance, and alterations at any time," said Yazz Krdzalic, VP of Marketing at Trenton Systems.

We create fully integrated, end-to-end solutions for a specific end customer, but when and where it makes sense, we can also market these solutions to a broader audience, as we find that they can be used in a variety of applications that require enhanced computing, advanced cybersecurity, and ruggedization."

We customize our solutions at the board and chip level, from enclosure down to the BIOS, per customers' technical, performance, and environmental specifications. Customers enjoy lifetime support and the industry's leading five-year warranty program. 

Our products are also under testing in-house and in partnership with local testing laboratories. We offer certifications for MIL-STD-810, MIL-STD-461, DO-160, IP67, and other military and industrial standards upon request.

With enhanced compute power, storage, intelligence, and flexibility, our systems provide military personnel with key insights in real-time necessary to making quick, well-informed decisions and, as a result, effective deterrence of enemies. 

Want to learn more? Get in touch with our team of experts to craft a USA-made solution for your military applications across all domains of the modern battlspace.

Comments (2)

Subscribe by email