An application is an application, right, and an application package is an application package. Not exactly, as your organisation probably has LOB apps, COTS apps, and MOTS apps. This means you will also have LOB app packages, COTS app packages, and MOTS app packages. Packaging engineers know the differences, but it is also important for technology staff and others to know their LOBs from their COTS from their MOTS.

Before going into LOB, COTS, and MOTS, let’s first clarify the definition of an application package.

What is an Application Package?

An application package contains all the files, configurations, naming convention settings, and dependencies that enable an application to be managed and installed. Once an application package has been created, an application deployment object can be created.

An application deployment object is created in an application management platform such as Intune or SCCM. It sets the rules for when, where, and how the application package can be installed (you can read more on the differences between application packages and application deployment objects in our blog The Difference Between Application Packages and Deployment Objects and Why It Matters).

When we talk about LOB, COTS, and MOTS, we are talking about applications but because each one is different, the application packaging process and output also differs depending on whether you are working with a LOB, COTS, or MOTS.


What is a COTS and What’s Involved in Packaging a COTS Application?

COTS stands for commercial off-the-shelf, so a COTS application is a commercial off-the-shelf application. Common examples in the corporate world include Microsoft Word, the Chrome web browser, and Adobe Acrobat.

In most situations and organisations, repackaging a COTS application is a misnomer. This is because packaging engineers typically don’t repackage the application as doing so can result in losing support from the vendor. Instead, there could be no changes except to apply the organisation’s naming convention. Alternatively, the packaging engineer could apply an MST (Microsoft Transform) file to add customisations without altering the vendor-supplied installation file.


What is a LOB and What’s Involved in Packaging a LOB Application?

LOB stands for line of business, so a LOB app is a line of business app. In most situations, this refers to bespoke software applications created specifically for your organisation.

In the packaging process for a LOB app, the installer (EXE, MSI, MSIX, etc) must be completely recaptured and custom scripts may also have to be written. This makes the process more involved as company standards have to be applied as well as the package itself being created or recreated in the desired format.


What is a MOTS and What’s Involved in Packaging a MOTS Application?

MOTS stands for modifiable off-the-shelf, so a MOTS app is a modifiable off-the-shelf app. MOTS typically fall somewhere between COTS and LOB apps as they are commercially available but also editable. This is usually possible because the vendor has made the source code accessible so the app can be better aligned with the organisation’s needs.

The process of packaging or repackaging a MOTS application is similar to packaging a COTS application. To retain vendor support, an MST might be added to facilitate the required customisations without compromising the integrity of the vendor-supplied install file.

However, as with all packaging processes, there are no hard-and-fast rules. So, an organisation might choose to completely repackage an application after weighing up the benefits and consequences.


Packaging Requirements for All Types of Applications

Whatever the type of application that is being packaged, there is almost always the need for an engineer to conduct a technical review. This is to ensure company standards and best practices on naming, scripting, and other factors are adhered to.

The review should also confirm that database connections, output folder directions, firewall rules, folder permissions, etc are tailored accordingly. The review aims to ensure the packaged application will work for all end users.

Automating the Process

Going through this process manually application by application is incredibly time-consuming and repetitive for engineers tasked with these essential responsibilities. Automating large elements of the process using platforms such as Access Capture frees up your valuable technical resources to concentrate on the tricky application packaging jobs (often the LOB applications) and other value-adding tasks.

For almost all your COTS apps, most of your MOTS apps, and maybe even some of your LOB apps, automation is the answer.

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