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Building systems from commercial components is often a completely different experience from building custom systems in that the focus of control shifts from the architect or designer to the commercial marketplace. To deal with this loss of control, the successful architect must take a risk-driven approach by considering multiple design contingencies, weighing benefit against risk, and generally playing the odds.

In the book Building Systems from Commercial Components, in the SEI Series in Software Engineering, we have documented a number of techniques that have been applied in practice to manage this loss of control and maximize opportunities for success. We have also illustrated these techniques in an extensive case study involving the development of a Web-based application for image management and retrieval.

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