The trickle-down effect

There’s an interesting thing with off-the-shelf OSS solutions that are subsequently highly customised by the buyer. I call it the trickle-down effect.

By nature, commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) solutions tend to be designed to cope with as many variants as their designers can imagine. They’re designed to be inclusive in nature.

But customised COTS solutions tend to narrow down that field of view, adding specific actions, filters, etc to make workflows more efficient, reports more relevant, etc. Exclusive in nature.

The unintended result of being exclusive is the trickle-down effect. If you exclude / filter things out, chances are you’ll have to continually update those customisations. For example, if you’re filtering on a certain device type, but that device type is superseded, then you’ll have to change all of the filters, as well as anything downstream of that filter.

The trickle-down effect can be insidious, turning a nice open COTS solution into a beast that needs constant attention to cope with the most minor of operational changes. The more customisations mat, the more gnarly the beast tends to be.

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