Understanding ho w the layers relate to each o ther

Info iconThis preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Unformatted text preview: s invento ry, payro ll, and acco unting. At the to p o f the cake are users. Figure 9. 1 The H ardware/Soft ware Layer Cake The f lexibility o f these layers gives co mputers the custo mizatio n o ptio ns that managers and businesses demand. Understanding ho w the layers relate to each o ther helps yo u make better decisio ns o n what o ptio ns are impo rtant to yo ur unique business needs, can inf luence what yo u buy, and may have implicatio ns f o r everything f ro m co mpetitiveness to co st o verruns to security breaches. What f o llo ws is a manager’s guide to the main so f tware catego ries with an emphasis o n why each is impo rtant. K E Y TAK E AWAYS Software refers to a computer program or collection of programs. I t enables computing devices to perform tasks. You can think of software as being part of a layer cake, with hardware at the bottom; the operating system controlling the hardware and establishing standards, the applications executing one layer up, and the users at the top. How these layers relate to one another has managerial implications in many areas, including the flexibility in meeting business demand, costs, legal issues and security. Software is everywhere—not just in computers, but also in cell phones, cars, cameras, and many other technologies. QU E S TI ONS AND E XE RC I S E S 1. Explain the difference between hardware and software. 2. Why should a manager care about software and how software works? What critical organiz ational and competitive factors can software influence? 3. What role has software played in your decision to select certain products? Has this influenced why you favored one product or service over another? 4. Find the Fortune 500 list online. Which firm is the highest ranked software firm? While the Fortune 500 ranks firms according to revenue, what’s this firm’s profitability rank? What does this discrepancy tell you about the economics of software development? Why is the software business so attractive to entrepreneurs? 5. Refer to earlier chapters (and particularly to Chapter 2 "Strategy and Technology: Concepts and Frameworks for Understanding What Separates Winners from Losers"): Which resources for competitive advantage might top software firms be able to leverage to ensure their continued dominance? Give examples of firms that have leveraged these assets, and why they are so strong. 9.2 Operating Systems L E A RN I N G OBJ E C T I V E S 1. Understand what an operating system is and why computing devices require operating systems. 2. Appreciate how embedded systems extend Moores Law, allowing firms to create “smarter” products and services Co mputing hardware needs to be co ntro lled, and that’s the ro le o f the o perating system. The o perating system (so metimes called the “OS”) pro vides a co mmo n set o f co ntro ls f o r managing co mputer hardware, making it easier f o r users to interact with co mputers and f o r pro grammers to write applicatio n so f tware. Just abo ut every co mputing device has an o perating system—deskto ps and lapto ps, enterprise-class server co mputers, yo ur mo bile pho ne. Even specialty devices like iP o ds, video game co nso les, and televisio n set to p bo xes run so me f o rm o f OS. So me f irms, like Apple and Nintendo , develo p their o wn pro prietary OS f o r their o wn hardware. Micro so f t sells o perating systems to everyo ne f ro m Dell to the ATM manuf acturer Diebo ld (listen f o r the f amiliar Windo ws erro r beep o n so me cash machines). And there are a ho st o f specialty f irms, such as Wind River (purchased by Intel), that help f irms develo p o perating systems f o r all so rts o f devices that do n’t necessarily lo o k like a P C, including cars, video editing systems, and f ighter jet co ntro l panels. Anyo ne who has used bo th a P C and a Mac and has no ticed dif f erences acro ss these platf o rms can get a sense o f the breadth o f what an o perating system do es. Even f o r pro grams that are o therwise identical f o r these two systems (like the Firef o x bro wser), subtitle dif f erences are visible. Screen elements like menus, scro ll bars, and windo w bo rders lo o k dif f erent o n the Mac than they do in Windo ws. So do the dialo gue bo xes that sho w up when yo u print o r save. These items lo o k and behave dif f erently because each o f these f unctio ns to uches the hardware, and the team that develo ped Micro so f t Windo ws created a system distinctly dif f erent f ro m their Macinto sh co unterparts at Apple. Graphical user int erf ace (UI) items like scro ll bars and menus are displayed o n the hardware o f the co mputer display. Files are saved to the hardware o f a hard drive o r o ther sto rage device. Mo st o perating systems also include co ntro l panels, deskto p f ile management, and o ther suppo rt pro grams to wo rk directly with hardware elements like sto rage devices, displays, printers, and netwo rking equipment. The Macinto sh Finder and t...
View Full Document

Ask a homework question - tutors are online