· Chapter 2 in Managing Information Technology, pp. 34-59
Enterprise Computer and Information Systems
I. Enterprise Computer and Information Systems
There are two categories of software used with computer systems: applications software and support software. Applications software consists of programs that are written to accomplish particular business tasks such as accounting, payroll, sales invoicing, etc. These software applications are very standardized and readily available off the shelf by multiple vendors. Software applications specific for unique needs of an organization are either developed internally or contracted to outside vendors for custom development. An example of applications software is an accounting package. There are many different commercial accounting software packages available for small business. Most of these software packages include general ledger, accounts receivable, accounts payable, inventory, payroll, time and billing, etc. The cost of such a package ranges from $500 and goes up from there for a single user version. Another example is personal productivity software. Software that includes word processing spreadsheets, database management, presentation graphics, email and groupware is also considered applications software.
WWW browsers are also considered application software. Examples include Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome–all used to access information on the Internet. Pull technology allows us to request a webpage then view it through our browser. Push technology allows us to send information to a client without requesting it through a browser – example—email, software patches etc.
Support software, on the other hand, allows application software to be carried out or run. It also ensures that computer hardware and software are used efficiently. Support software is typically purchased from a hardware or software vendor. A prime example of support software is an operating system. Microsoft Windows is an example of an operating system. You’ve most likely used Windows in one shape or form—if you’ve been around computers long enough, you’ll remember the day when there was no such thing as Windows and all computers ran using something called “DOS” (disk operating system).
Operating systems used what is called Job Control Language (JCL) to send instructions back and forth. Multiprogramming, i.e., programming that allows overlap of input and output operations with processing time, is employed on larger machines. Multi-tasking, which is similar to multiprogramming, is employed on microcomputers. Multithreading is similar to multi-tasking, but multiple threads within the same program are overlapped. Finally, multiprocessing is work that takes place when two or more CPU’s are installed on the same computer system. Virtual memory permits multiprogramming to operate more efficiently.
There are several categories of operating systems: proprietary and open systems. Proprietary systems are written for particular computer hardware configurations. For example, microcomputers have a version of MS Windows or Mac OS installed when you purchase them. Open systems are not tied to any particular hardware manufacturer – they will run on virtually any computer. Examples include Linux and UNIX.
Server or network operating systems run on servers that mange network resources and control the operations of a network. These enhanced operating systems allow for sharing disk drives and printers, and handling server side of client/server applications. Some of the major server operating system players are UNIX and Linux and Microsoft Windows Server.
Code or Languages
The “code” or languages used to write software has changed dramatically over the past 50-60 years. First generation language—machine language – each instruction was expressed in a unique form for each particular computer. A complete program would consist of thousands of instructions – programming in machine language was an extremely time consuming, tedious process. Assembly language is considered a second-generation language. Mnemonic operation codes were added to substitute for some of the machine language codes. Assembler was used to convert mnemonic codes to machine language code. Third generation language, also called procedural languages, are expressed as step-by-step instructions. These programs were typically machine-independent and easier for programmers to learn. The program would need to be compiled or interpreted so it would be readable at the machine language level. Fourth generation languages are called nonprocedural languages (4GL). They are much easier to program, but much less efficient for computers to run. They use more English-like statements for program instructions. They are often referred to as languages for business intelligence (BI) application development—SAS, IBM Cognos, SAP business objects, etc.
Another type of programming language is markup language. Markup language employs “tags” to mark up documents. For example, HTML – Hypertext markup language –is used to create web pages. XML is used to facilitate data interchange among web pages.
Object-oriented programming isn’t really 3GL or 4GL; it’s a new paradigm in programming. It involves creating and reusing objects. For example, a check box or a text box that you fill out on a form is a type of reusable object. Checkboxes are used in all sorts of applications. When you “click” it, it invokes some sort of action. No two checkboxes are alike—but they ARE all checkboxes. Common object-oriented programming languages include C++, Java, visual basic.Net and C#.
Case Study: Selection of an Information Technology Platform
Click the link below to read a case study from the 7th edition of Managing Information Technology.
IMT Custom Machine Company, Inc.: Selection of an Information Technology Platform
Write a debriefing report that includes the pros and cons of the four options presented to the VP and Division Manager in the case study. Include a recommendation for the one of the four options you feel would be the most appropriate solution. If none of the four options is the appropriate solution, recommend a new option. In your response remember to address the following:
1. How well staff is able to handle the option
2. Key applications and their ability to work with type of system
3. Tools available that work with the type of system
4. Stability of vendor[s]
6. Consistency with business group strategies and vision
7. Budget and capacity planning
8. Software licensing
Your report should be 4-5 pages in length and well-written. Use Saudi Electronic University academic writing standards and APA style guidelines, citing references as appropriate.