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What do business professionals need to know about computer hardware?
- Basic Components
- input hardware devices (keyboard, mouse, document scanners, and bar-code scanners, microphones, tablet PCs, Magnetic ink readers
- Processing Devices - CPU, main memory, RAM
- Output Hardware - video displays, printers, audio speakers, overhead projectors, and other special purpose devices: large flatbed plotters
- Storage Hardware - Magnetic disk, optical disks: CDs and DVDs, thumb drives
Input Hardware Devices - Basic Components
input hardware devices are the keyboard, mouse, document scanners, and bar-code(Universal Product Code) scanners like those used in grocery stores. Microphones also are input devices; with tablet PCs, human handwriting can be input as well. Older input devices include magnetic ink readers (used for reading the ink on the bottom of checks) and scanners such as the Scantron test scanners.
Processing Devices - Basic Components
- Processing devices include the central processing unit (CPU), which is sometimes called "the brain" of the computer. Although the design of the CPU has nothing in common with the anatomy of animal brains, this description is helpful., because the CPU does have the "smarts" of the machine. The CPU selects instructions, processes them, performs arithmetic and logical comparisons, and stores results of operations in memory. Some computers have two or more CPUs. A computer with two CPUs is called a dual-processor computer. Quad processor computers have four CPUs. Some high end computers have 16 or more CPUs.
- CPUs varu om speed, function, and cost. Hardware vendors such as Intel, Advanced Micro Devices, and National Semiconductor continually improve CPU speed and capabilities while reducting CPU costs (as discussed in Moore's law in ch 1). Whether you or your department needs the latest, greatest CPU depends on the nature of your work, as you will learn.
- The CPU works in condjunction with the main memory. The CPU reads data and instructions from memory, and it stores results of computations in main memory. Main memory is sometimes called RAM, for random access memory.
Output Hardware - Basic Components
Output hardware consists of video displays, printers, audio speakers, overhead projectors, and other special purpose devices, such as large flatbed plotters
Storage Hardware - Basic Components
- storage hardware saves data and programs. Magnetic disk is by far the most common storage device, although optical disks such as CDs and DVDs also are popular. Thumb drives are small, portable magnetic storage devices that can be used to backup data and to transfer it from one computer to another. In large corporate data centers, data is sometimes stored on magnetic tape.
- In the past, many different plug receptacles were required to connect keyboards, mice, printers, camers, and so on. Starting in 2000, all of these were replaced with Universal Serical Bus (USB) connectors. USB connectors simplified the connection of peripheral gear to computers for both manufacturers and users and are widely used.
- Computer Data
- Bianary Digits:
Binary Digits - Computer Data
Computers represent data using binary digits, called bits. A bit is either a zero or a one. Bits are used for computer data because they are easy to represent electronically. A switch can be either closed switch represents one. Or the orientation of a magnetic field can represent a bit; magnetism in one direction represents a zero, manetism in the opposite direction represents a one. Or, for optical media, small pits are burned onto the surfact of the disk so that they will frlect light. Ina given spot, a relection means a one; no reflections means a zero.
Sizing Computer data - bits, bytes, MB, GB
- All computer data are represented by bits. The data can be numbers, characters, currency amounts, photos, recordings, or whatever. All are simply a string of bits.
- For reasons that interest many but are irrelevant for furure managers, bits are grouped into 8-bit chunks called bytes. For character data, such as the letters in a person's name, one character will fit into one byte. Thus, when you read a specification that a computing device has 100 million characters.
- Bytes are used to measure sizes of noncharacter data as well. Someone might say, for example, that a given picture is 100,000 bytes or 800,000 bits, (because there are 8 bits per byte).
- The specifications for the size of main memory, disk, and other computers devices are expressed in bytes. A kilobyte, abbreviated K is a collection of 1,024 bytes. A megabyte, or MB is 1,024 kilobytes. A gigabyte, or GB, is 1,024 megabytes, and a terabyte, or Tb, is 1,024 gigabytes.
- Sometimes you will see these definitions simplified as 1K equals 1,000 bytes and 1 MB equals 1,000K. Such simplifications are incorrect, but they do ease the math. Also, disk and computer manufacturers have an incentive to propagate this misconception. If a disk maker defines 1MB to be 1 million bytes - and not the correct 1,024K - the manufacturer can use its own definition of MB when specifying drive capactities. A buyer may think that a disk advertised as 100MB has space for 100 x 1,024K bytes, but in truth the drive will have space for only 100 x 1,00,000 bytes. Normally, the distinction is not too important, but be aware of the two possibe interpretations of these abbrevations.
In fewer than 300 words, How does a Computer work?
- The CPU is the major actor. To run a program or process data, the computer first transfers the program or data from disk to main memory. Then, to execute an instruction, it moves the instruction from main memory into the CPU via the data channel or bus. The CPU has a small amount of very fast memory called cache. The CPU keeps requently used instructions in the cache. Having a large cache makes the computer faster, but cache is expensive.
- Main memory of the computer program instructions for Microsoft Excel, Adobe Acrobat, and a browser (Microsoft Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox). It also contains a block of data and instructions for the operating system (OS) which is a program that controls the computer's resources.
- Main memory is too small to hold all of the programs and data that a user might want to process. For example, no personal computer has enough memory to hold all of the code in Microsoft Word, Excel, and Access. Consequently, the CPU loads programs into memor in chunks. One portion of Excel was loaded into memory. When the user requested additional processing (say, to sort the spreadsheet), the CPU loaded another piece of Excel.
- If the user opens another program (say Word), the operating system will direct the CPU to attempt to place the new program or data into unused memory. If there is not enough memory, it will remove something, perhaps the block of memory labeled More Excel, and then it will place the just requested program or data into the vacated space. This process is called memory swapping.
Why does a manager care how a computer works?
- You can order computers with varying sizes of main memory. An employee whi runs only one program at a time and who processes small amounts of datas requires very little memory - 1 GB will be adequate. However, an employee who processes many programs at the same time (say Word, Excel, Firefox, Access, Acrobat, and other programs) or an employee who processes very large files (pictures, movies, or sound files) needs lots of main memory, perhaps 3GB or more. If that employees computer has too little memory, then the computer will constantly be swapping memory, and it will be slow. (This means, by the way, that if your computer is slow and if you have many programs open, you likely can improve performance by closing one or more programs. Depending on your computer and the amount of memor it has, you might also improve performance by adding more memory).
- You can also order computers with CPUs of different speeds. CPU speed is expressed in cycles called hertz. In 2011, a slow personal computer has a speed of 1.5 Gigahertz. A fast personal computer has a speed of 3+ Gigahertz, with dual processing. As predicted by Moore's Law, CPU speeds continually increase.
- Additionally, CPUs today are classified as 32-bit or 64-bit. Without delving into the particulars, a 32-bit is less capable and cheaper than a 64-bit CPU. The latter can address more main memory; you need a 64-bit processor to effectively utilize more than 4GB of memory. 64-bit processors have other advantages as well, but they are more expensive than 32-bit processors.
- An enployee who does only simple tasks such as word processing does not need a fast CPU; a 32-bit, 1.5 Gigahertz CPU will be fine. However, an employee who processes large, complicated spreadsheets or who manipulates large database files or edits large picture, sound, or movie files needs a fast computer like a 64-bit, dual processor with 63.5 Gigahertz or more.
- One last comment: The cache and main memory are volatile, meaning their contents are lost when power is off. Magnetic and optical disks are nonvolatile, meaning their contents survive when the power is off. If you suddently lose power, the contents of unsaved memory - say, documents that have been altered - will be lost. Therefore, get into the habit of frequently (every few minutes or so) saving documents or files that you are changing. Save your documents before your roommate trips over the powercord.
What is the Difference between a client and a server?
- Before we can discuss computer software, you need to understand the difference between a client and a server. Users emloy client computers or word processing, spreadsheets, database access and so forth. Most client computers also have software that enables them to connect to a network. It could be a private network at their company or school , or it could be the internet, which is a public network.
- Servers, as their name implies, provide some service. Some servers proces email; other process Web sites; others process large, shared databases; and some provide all of these functions or other, similar functions.
- A server is just a computer, but as you might expect, server computers must be fst and they usually have multiple CPUs. They need lots of main memory, at least 4Gb, and they require very large disks often a terabyte or more. Because servers are almost always accessed from another computer via a network, they have limited video displays, or even no displays at all. For the same reason, many have no keyboard.
- For sites with large numbers of users (e.g. Amazon.com), servers are organized into a collection of servers called a server farm. Servers in a farm coordinate their activities in an incredibly sophisticated and fascinating technology dance. They receive and process hundreds, posiibly thousands, of service requests per minute. In December 2009 Amazon.com processed an average of 110 order items per second for 24 hours straight. In this dance, computers hand off partially processed requests to each other while keeping track of the current status of each request. They can pick up the pieces when a computer in the farm fails. All of this is done in the blink of an eye, with the user never knowing any part of the miracle underway. It is absolutely gorgeous engineering.
- You may hear two new terms that have become popular with regard to server computer: grid and Cloud. A grid is a network of computers that operates as an intergrated whole; the grid appears to be a sinle computer. The grid may operate to support a server farm, or it amy support some other computing need. Organizations lease time on the grid from other organizations that creat, support, and manage that grid.
- Cloud Computing is a form of hardware/software leasing in which organizations obtain server resources from vendors that specialize in server processing. The amount of server time and the resources leased is flexible and can change dynamically (and dramatically). Customers pay only for the resources used. Major companies that offer cloud computing productsion include Amaon.com, IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle.
- Your university is a prime canidate to use cloud computing for systmes like class registration. If you are on a semester program, registration occurs only three times a year, so servers that are dedicated solely to registration will be idle most of the year. With cloud computing, your university could lease server resources when it needs them from a cloud vendor like IBM. Your university will use substaintial computing resources to support registration in August, January, and June, but nearly none in other months. It will pay just for the services that it uses.
- Cloud compiting allows multiple organizations to utile the same computing infrastructure. Tax preparation firms can use the same IBM computers in April that your university uses in August, January, and June. In a sense, cloud computing is a form of CPU-cycle inventory consolidation.
What do Business Professional Need to know about software?
- As a future manager or business professional, you need to know the essential terminology and software concepts that will enable you to be an intelligent software consumer.
- Every computer has an operating system, which is a program that controls that computer's resources. Some of the functions of an operating system are to read and write data, allocate main memory, perform memory swapping, start and stop programs, respond to error conditions, and facilitate backup and recovery. In addition, the operating system creates and manages the user interface, including the display, keyboard, mouse, and other devices.
- Although the operating system makes the computer usuable, it does little application specific work. If you wnt to write a document or querry a customer database, you need application programs such as Microsoft Word or Oracle Customer Relationship Management (CRM). These programs must be licensed in addition to the operating system.
- Both client and server computers need an operating system, though they need not be the same. Further, both clients and servers can process application programs. The application's design determines whether the client, the server, or both, process it.
- You need to understand two important software constraints. First, a particular version of an operating system is written for a particular type of hardware. For example, Microsoft Windows works only on processors from Intel and companies that make procesors that conform to the Intel instruction set (the commands that a CPU can process). Furthermore, the 32 bit version of Windows runs only on Intel computers with 32 bit CPUs and the 64 bit version of Windows runs only on Intel computers with 64 bit CPUs. In other cases, such as Linux, many versions exist for many different instruction sets and for both 32 and 64 bit computers.
- Second, application programs are written to use a particular operating system. Microsoft Access, for example, will run only on Windows operating system. Some applications come in multiple versions. There are, for example, Windows and Macintosh versions of Microsoft Word. But unless informaed otherwise, assume that a particular application runs on just one operating system.
What are the four Major operating systems?
Every computer system has an operating system. All client server computers have an operating system, as well as your iphone, ipad, Kindle, and smart phone. Here we will be concerned only with four operating systems that you might choose, or be influenced by. These systems are used on both client and server computers.
For business users, the most important operationg system is Microsoft Windows. Some version of Windows resides on more than 85 percent of the world's desktops, and, considering just business users, the figure is more than 95 percent. Many different versions of Windows are available: Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP run on user computers. Windows server is a version of Windows designed for servers. As stated, Windows runs the Intel instruction set on both 32 and 64 bit computers.
- Apple computer, inc., developed its own operating system for Macintosh, Mac OS. The current version is Mac OS X. Mackintosh computers are used primarily by graphic artists and workers in the arts community. Mac OS was designed originally to run the line of CPU processors from Motorola. In 1994, Mac OS switched to the PowerPC processor line from IBM. As of 2006, Macintosh computers are available for both PowerOC and Intel CPUs. A Macintosh with an Intel processor is able to un both Windows and the Mac Os.
- Most people would agree that Apple has led the way in developing easy to use interfaces. Certainly, many innovative ideas have first appeared in a Macintosh and then later added, in one form or another to Windows.
Unix is an operating system that was developed at Bell Labs in the 1970s. It has been the workhorse of the scientific and engineering communities since then. Unix is generally regarded as being more difficult to use than either Windows or the Macintosh. Many Unix users know and employ an arcane language for manipulating files and data. However, once they surmount the rather steep learning curve most Unix users become fanatic supports of the system. Sun Microsystems and other vendors of computers for scientific and engineering applications are the major proponents of Unix. In general, unix is not for the business user.
- Linux is a version of Unix that developed by the ope source community. This community is a loosely coupled group of programmers who mostly volunteer their time to contribute code to develop and maintain Linux. The open source community owns Linux, and there is no fee to use it. Linux can run on clients computers, but it is most frequently used for servers, particularly Web servers.
- IBM is the primary proponent of Linux. Although IBM does not own Linux, IBM has developed many busines systems solutions that use Linux. By using Linux, IBM does not have to pay a license fee to Microsoft or another OS vendor.
Own versus License
- When you buy a computer program, you are not actually buying the program. Instead, you are buying a license to use the program. EX: when you buy a Wondows license, Microsoft is selling you the right to use Windows. Microsoft continues to own the Windows program. Large organizations do not buy a licenses for each computer user. Instead, they negotiate a site license, which is a flat fee that authorizes the company's computers or on all of the computers at a specific site.
- In the case of Linux, no company can sell you a license to use it. It is owned by the open source community, which states that Linux has no license fee (with certain reasonable restrictions). Large companies such as IB< and smaller companies such as RedHat can make money by supporting Linux, but no company makes money selling Linux Licenses.
- Cloud computing is feasible because cloud vendors harness the power of virtualization. Virtualization is the pricess by which one computer hosts the appearance of many computers. One operating systems, called the host operating system runs one or more operating systems as applications. Thos hosted operating systems are called virual machines (vm). Each virtual machine has disk space and other resources allocated to it. The virtual machine operates as if it has exclusive control over those resources, just as if they were installed on their own computer. The host operating system controls the activities of the virtual machines it hosts to prevent them fom interfering with one another.
- Three types of virtualizatione exists:
- PC Virtualization
- Server Virtualization
- Desktop Virtualization
With PC Virtualization, a personal computer, such as a desktop or portable computer, hosts several different operating systems. Say a user needs, for some reason, to have both Windows Vista and Windows 7 running on his or her computer. In that circumstance, the user can have both systems on the same hardware.
- With Server Virtualization, a server computer hosts one or more, other server computers. Users can log onto either of those virtual machines and they will appear as a normal servers.
- Now why does any organization want to do this? Because it is very easy to set up virtual machine and configure it in a specific way. Virtualization allows cloud vendors to add and remove instances of servers very quickly and cheaply. If your university needs abother 100 servers in Augus, IBM needs only create 100 virtual machines on its server computers. It can do this with automation, involving almost no human labor.
- If two days later your school needs another 100 instances, IBM allocates another 100 instances. Behind the scenes, IBM is likely moving these instances among servers, balancing its workload on the computers that run the virtual machine operating systems. None of that activity is visible to your university or to the students who are registering for class. Hence, it is server virtualization that makes cloud computing feasible.
- Such processign is omportant and intersting, but it is possible that desktop virtualization will revolutionize desktop processing. With desktop virtualization a server hosts many versions of desktop operating systems. Each of these desktops has a complete user environment and appears to the user to be just another PC. However, the desktop can be accessed from any computer to which the user has access. Thus, you could be at an airport and go to an airport computer and access your virtualized desktop. To you, it appears as if that airport computer is you own personal computer. Later, you could do the same to a utility computer sitting in your hotel room. Meanwhile, many other users could have accessed the computer in the airport, and each thought he or she had his or her personal computer. Desktop virtualization is in its infancy, but it will have major impact during the early years of your career.
One of a kind Application
Application software performs a service or function. Some application programs are general purpose, such as Microsoft Excel or word. Other application programs provides general ledger and other accounting functions. We begin by describing categories of application programs and then describe sources for them.
- Horizontal-market Application software provides capabilities common across all organizations and industries. Word processors, graphics programs, spreadsheets, and presentation programs are all horizontal market application sofware.
- Exmaples of such software are Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. Examples from other vendoes are Adobe's Acrobat, Photoshop, and Pagemaker and Jasc Corporation's Paint Shop Pro. These applications are used in a wide variety of businesses, across industries. They are purchased off the shelf, and little customization of features is necessary (or possible).
- Vertical-market Application software serves the needs of a specific industry. Ex of such programs are those used by dental offices to schedule appointments and bill patients, those used by auto mechanics to keep track of customer data and customers' automobile repairs, and those used by parts warehouses to track inventory, purchases, and sales.
- Vertical applications usually can be altered or customized. Typically, the company that sold the application software will provide such services or offer referrals to qualified consultants who can provide this service.
One-of-a-Kind Application software is developed for a specific, unique need. The IRS develops such software, for example, because it has needs that no other organization has.
How do Organizations acquire Application software?
- You can aquire applications software in exactly the same ways that you can buy a new suit. The quickest and least risky option is to buy your suit off the rack. With this method, you get your suit immediately, an you know exactly what it will cost. You may not, however, get a good fit. Alternately, you can buy your suit off the rack and have it altered. This will take more time, it may cost more, and there's some possibilty that the alteration will result in a poor fit. Most likely, however, an altered suit will fit better than an off the rack one.
- Finally you can hire a tailor to make a custom suit. In this case, you will have to describe what you want, be available for multiple fittings, an be willing to pay considerable more. Although there is an excellent chance of a great fit, there is also the possibility of a disaster. Stillm, if you want a yellow and orange polka dot silk suit with a hissing rattlesnake on the bakc, tailor made is the only way to go. You can buy computer software in exactly the same ways: off the shelf software, off the shelf with alterations software, or tailor made. Tailor made software is called custom developed software.
- Organizations develpp custom application software themselves or hire a development vendor. Like buying the yellow and orange polka dot suit, such development is done in situations in which the needs of the organizations are so unique that no horizontal or veritcal applications are available. By developing custom software, the organization can tailor its application to fit its requirements.
- Custom development is difficult and risky. Staffing and managing teams of software developers is challenging. Managing software projects can be daunting. Many organizations have embarked on application development projects only to find that the projects take twice as long - or longer - to finish as planned. Cost overruns of 200 and 300 percent are not uncommon.
- In addition, every application program needs to be adapted to changing needs and changing technologies. The adaptation cost of horizontal and vertical software are amortized over all of the users of that software, perhaps thousands or millions of customers. For custom software developed in house, however, the developing company must pay all of the adaptation costs itself. Over time, this cost burden is heavy.
- Because of the risk and expense, in house develppment is the last choice alternative and is used only when there is no other option.
What is Firmware?
- Firmware is computer software that is installed into devices such as printers, print servers, and various types of communitcations devices. The software is coded just like other software, but it is installed into special, read-only memory of the printer or other device. In this was, the program becomes part of the device's memory; it is as if the programs logic is designed into the devices circuitry. Users do not need to load firmware into the device's memory.
- Firm can be changed or upgraded, but this is normally a task for IS professionals. The task is east, but it requires knowledge of special programs and techniquest that most business users choose not to learn.
When are thin clients preferred to thick clients?
- When you use client applications such as Word, Excel, or Acrobat, those programs run only on your computer. You need not be connected to the Internet or any other network to run them.
- Other applications, call client-server applications, require code on both the client and the server. Email is a good example. When you send email, you run a client program such as Microsoft Outlook that has been installed on your computer. Outlook then connects over the Internet or a private network to mail server software on a server. Similarly, when you access a Web site, you run a browser (client software) on yor compuer that connects over a network to Web server software on a server.
- A client server application that requires nothing more than a browser is called a thin client. An application such as Microsoft Outlook that requires programs other than a brownser on the user's computer is called a thick client. The terms thin and thick refer to the amount of code that must run on the client computer. All other things being equal, thin client applications are preferred to thick client applications because they require only a browser; no special client software needs to be installed. Additionally, for reasons that your will learn, thin (brower-only) clients make it easier for people to access systems from remote locations and from special purpose decives such as cell phones or ipads.
- As stated, client and server computers can run differnt operating systems. Many organizationshave standardized on Windows for their clients but use Windows Server or Linux for their servers.
Is open source software a viable alternative
- To answer this questions, you first need to know a bit about the open source movement and process. Most computer historians would agree that Richard Matthew Stallman is the father of the movement. In 1983, he developed a set of tools called GNU (a self referential acronym meaning GNU not Unix) for creating a free Unix like operating system. Stallman made many other contributions to open source, including the GNU general public license (GPL) agreement, one of the standard license agreements for open source software. Stallman was unable to attract enough developers to finish the free Unix sysem, but continued making other contributions to the open source movement.
- In 1991, Linus torvalds, working in Helsinki, began work on another version of Unix. using some of Sallman's tools. that version eventually became Linux, the high quality and very popular operating system.
- The internet proved to be a great asset for open source, and many open source projects because successful, including:
- Open Office (a Microsoft Office look alike)
- Firefox (browser)
- MySQL (a DBMS)
- Apache (a web server)
- Ubuntu (a Windows like desktop operating system)
- Android (a mobile device operating system)
Why do Programmers Volunteer their services?
- To anyone who has never enjoyed writing computer programs, it is difficult to understand why anyone would donate thier time and skills to contribute to open source projects. Programming is, however, an intense combination of art and logic, and designing and writing a complicated computer program is exceedingly pleasurable (and addictive). Like many programmers, at times in my life I have fleefuly devoted 16 hours a day to writing computer programs. - day after day and the days would fly by. If you have an artistic and logical mind, you ought to try it.
- Anyway, the first reason that people contribute to open source is that it is great fun! Additionally, some people contribute to open source because it gives them the freedom to choose the projects upon which they work. They may have a programming day job that is not terribly interesting, say, writing a program to manage a computer printer. Their job pays the bills, but it's not fulfilling.
- In the 1950s, Hollywood studio musicians suffered as they recorded the same style of music over and over for a long string of uninteresting movies. To keep their sanity, those musicians would gather on Sundays to play jazz, and a number of high quality jazz clubs resulted. That's what open source is toprogrammers. A place where they can exercise their creativity while working on projects they find interesting and fulfilling.
- Another reason for contributing to open source is to exhibit one's skill, both for prode a well a to find a job consulting employment. A final reason is to start a business selling services to support an open source product.
How does open source work?
- The tem open source means that the source code of the program is available to the public. Source code is computer code as written by humans and that is understandable by humans. Source code is compiled into a machine code that is processed by a computer. Machine code is, in general, not understandable by humans and cannot be modified.
- In a closed source project, say Microsoft Office, the source code is highly protected and only available to trusted employees and carefully vetted contractors. The source code is protected like gold in a vault. Only those trusted programmers can make changes to a closed source document.
- With open source, anyone can obtain the source code from the open source project's Web site. Programmers alter or add to this code depending on thier interests and goals. In most cases, programmers can incorporate code they find into their own projects. They may be able to resell those projects depending on the type of the license agreement the project uses.
- Open source succeeds because of collaboration. A programmer examines the source code and identifies a need or project that seems interesting. He or she then creates a new feature, redesigns or reprograms an existing feature, or fixes a known problem. That code is then sent to others in the open source project who then evaluate the quality and merits of the work and idd it to the product, if appropriate.
- Typically, there is a lot of give and take. Or, there are many cycles of iteration and feedback. Because of this iteration, a well managed project with strong peer reviews can result in very high quality code, like that in Linux.
So is open source viable?
- The answer depends on to whom for what. Open source has certainly become legitimate. According to the Economist, "It is now generally accepted that the future will involve a blend of both proprietary adn open source softwar." During your career, open source will likely take a greater and greater role in software. However, whether open source works for a particular situation depends ont he requirements and constraints of that situation.
- In some cases, companies chose open source software because it is free. It turns out that this advantage may be less important than you'd think, bcause in many cases, support and operational costs swamp the initial licensing fee.
How can you use this knowledge?
As a future business professional, you will need basic knowledge of hardware and software for two major reasons. First, you will need it to make some decisions about which products you use. Second, as a manager, you will be involved in creating or approving hardware budgets. Consider each.
what buying decisions do you make?
- In general, most business professionals have some role in the specification of the client hardware and software they use. Business managers also play a role int he specification of client hardware and sofware for employees whom they manage. The particular role depends on the policy of the manager's organization. Large organizations will have an IS department that is liely to set standards for client hardware and software.
- In medium to small organizations, policies are often less formal, and managers will beed to take an active role in setting the specifications for their own and their employees computers. The goal, of course, is to selct the harware and sofware that will meet requirements at the minimum total system cost.
- Except in rare circumstance, medium to small organizations will usually standardize on a single client operating system because the costs of supporting more than one are unjustifiable. Most organizations choose Microsoft Windows clients. Some firms standardize on Unix. Organizations that have limited budgets might choose to use Linux with Ubuntu and Open Office on the clients, but this rare.
- Managers and their employees might have a role in specifying horizontal application software, such as Microsoft Office, or other software appropriate for their operating systems. They will also have an important role in specifying requirements for vertical market or custom applications.
- Concerning the server, a business manager typically has no role in the specification of server hardware, other than possibly approving the budget. Instead, technical personnel make such decisions. A business manager and those who will be the clients of the client server application specify the requirements for vertical and custom server software. They will also work with technical personnel to test and accept that software.
What process should you use to establish a computer budget?
- You need first to determin the base requirements. This involves assessing the work your employees perform, creating job categories, and determining the computer workload requirements for each category.
- In accounts payable, for example, you might determine that you have three categories of workers: administrators, accounts payable specialists, and managers. You further determine that the administrators need hardware and software to access the company's web protal, to email, and to perform minimal word processing. The accounts payable specialists need the same capabilities as the administrators, but they also need access to the organization's accounts payable system. Finally, you and other managers need to be able to perform the same work as the specialists, plus you need to process large spreadsheets for preparing budgets. You also need to access the company's payroll and human resources systems.
- Once you have identified the job catefories and the coputer workload requirements for each, you can apply the knowledge from this chapter to determin hardware and software requirements for each type. You can also use past departmental experience as a guide. If employees complain about computer performance with the equipment they have, you can determine if more is needed. If there are no bottlenecks or performance problems, yu know the current equipment will do.
- Given the base requirements, the next step is forecast changes. Will you be adding or losing employees during the year? Will the workload change? Will your department be given new tasks that will necessitate additional hardware or software? Finally during the year will your organization mandate changes in hardware or sofware? Will you be required to upgrade your operating system or applications software? If so, will your budget be charged for those upgrades?
- Once you hav ethe base requirements and your change forecasts, you can prepare the budget. The first task is to price the hardware and software. As you will learn in, your IT department will most likely hav established standards for hardware and software from which you will select. They will probably have negotiated prices on your behalf. If not, the accounting department can probably help you estimate costs based on their prior experience. You can also learn from the past experience of your own department.
- Your organization may have a policy of charging the department's overhead fees for networks, servers, and communications. If so, you will beed to add those charges to the budget as well.
- When you have finished the preparation of the budget, you should assess it for feasibility and reasonableness. First, consider your organization's competitive strategy. If your organization is a cost leader, any increases in your budget will be carefully scrutinized, and you should be prepared with strong justifications. If your organization uses a differentiation strategy, then be certain that any increases in your budget relate directly to the ways in which your company differentiates. Before submitting your budget, prepare justifications for any such increases.
- You can expect that your budget will be reviewed in the context of prior years' budgets. If you are proposing substantial changes to your budget, anticipate that your will be asked to justify them. Reasons that your may need more equipment include:
- Substantial change in your departmental head count
- important new deparmental functions or responsibilities
- Upgrading to major new versions of operation systems or other software
- Implementation of new systems that require additional hardware
- Change in the way overhead expenses are allocated to your department
- If you find it difficult to justify budgetary increases, you may need to review and revise your budget. Perhaps your can do with refurbished equipment, or maybe you can delay the upgrad of all of your computers to the new operating system, or maybe you can find ways of reallocating hardware among the employees in your department that wills ave costs. Even if non of these options are workable, you can document that you investigated them in your budget justification or mention them in any budgetary review meetings.
- Finally, document your results. You can use such documentations not only to justify your budget this year but also to help prepare next year's budget. Keep any spread sheets as well as notes and cocuments used to prepare and justify your budget.
Process for Preparing a departmental IT Budget
- Determine base requirements:
- The types of workload your employees perform
- the hardware requirements for each type
- the software requirements for each type
- Forecast requirement changes during the budget period:
- Changes in the number of employees
- Changes in workload - new job tasks or information systems
- Manadatory changes in hardware or software
- Prepare the budget:
- Using guidance from the IT department and accounting, price the hardware and software
- Determine if your department will charged for networks, servers, communications, or other overhead expenses
- Add overhead charges as necessary
- Assess results:
- Consider budget in context of competitive stategy
- If substantial increases in budget size, prepare justification
- Consider budget in context of prior year's budget
- Determine sources of significant difference and explain.
- Modify budget as appropriate
- Document results
- Prepare for justification
- Save documents and notes for preparation of next year's IT Budget
- The year 2010 was a watershed year for computer hardware. In 2010, the market voted and the results came in: Apple 10, Microsoft 0
- Why? In the future computing devices won't look like computers. Microsoft knew this, but blundered along, assuming that whatever the new devices looked like they would still carry some version of Windows.
- Not so, said the buyers of iphones and ipads. Not so. In 2010, Microsoft brought out its disastrous Kin phone. After investing more than $2 billion into its development, it pulled Kin from the market after selling 500 phones in the first 6 weeks, and meanwhile continued to build its Windows 7 series phone operating system for the 2010 Christmas season. Will it fare better? It seems doubtful.
- Microsoft bases its marketing campaign on claims that users want access to networks and applications on their "three screens" which to microsoft means computer screen, phone screen, and televisions screen. Microsoft encourages those who build applications with its development toops to construct their applications to function well on all three screens.
- But Apple didn't buy into that idea. Instead, Apple invested in completely new computing devices with touch screens and useful, natural feeling interfaces innovations. The ipod, iphone, and ipad all broke new ground. Amazon.com did something similar, though less spectacular, with its Kindle devices. Non of these devices fit into the three screen model, nor do any of them run Windows.
- An how did the market vote? Iphone sales were up 5000% in 2009. While Kin sold 500 units, customers stood in line for hours to buy the ipadm and early sales of the iphone 4 were 10 times projections. Apparently, people prefer new devices that don't fit into the established three screen categories.
- So, where will this take us by 2021? Today, everyone takes their PC or other device whereever they go. Every day, busoness professionals, working like PC mules, work their way through airport secuity, unpacking and packing their computer loads.
- By 2021, PC mules will be rarer than pack mules. users will carry thier phones, thier ipads, and whever isomethings come along. They'll do so because they're small and powerful.
- But what about large screen access? Maybe some PC mules will survive, but mor elikely is that large screen computing/connectivity devices will be available everywhere, like pay telphones once were. Instead of carrying your computer, you'll simply use a public device and connect to your data in the cloud. You won't need your desktop Office applications be cause you'll be using Web apps in your browser. You won't need your local data files because all those files will be in the cloud.
- This trend will accelerate with thin client versions of all applications. If any computer will provide access to those applications and your data, why carry a computer? We PC mules will be the first to agree.
- Buthere is a limitation. My personal computer provides more than just data nd thick client applications. It has my personal organization. It has my screensaver, it has my desktop pictures, icons, my files arranged just the way I want them. I need my computer to provide my personal world in familiar ways.
- Enter desktop virtualization. By 2021, any cost performance issues of desktop virtualization will be gone, and you will access any public computer, connect to your personal virtual desktop, and viola., be running what you now think to be your computer. Infact, it is your computer, excpet that it is running on a public machine that is connected to your virtual desktop in the cloud.
- If that is the case, why haul any hardware anywhere? At least why haul any hardware that weighs more than a few ounces? In this world, your hotel room comes with a computer; your airplane seat comes iwth a computer, your buss sear comes with a computer, your convention center is full of computers. With all of these devices, you need only access your virtual client, somewhere in the cloud and you are up and running on your machine.
- This mode of access solves another aggravating problem. many professionals use several different computers and have different set of data on each. This situation creates data synchronization problems. If you work on your computer at home, when you get to work you have to synchronize (or synch) your computer at work with any changes you've made on the computer you took home. But, if your machine is a virual client in the cloud, everythign is always synchronized, because there's only one version.
- So, where does that leave Microsoft? Or Google? Apple? It's the Wild west all over again. Who knows/ Everything depends on how those companies respond, which ultimately comes down to you and your classmates. The next decade will bring enormous change in hardware/software technoligies, companies, industries, and users. You will be in the vanguard of consumers who decide. And a small percentage of you will have the great good forturne to work in the IT industry during theis raucous time, cownoy hats and all!