Instructor's Manual Management Information Systems, Eighth Edition 6-1 Chapter 6 Managing Hardware and Software Assets Teaching Objectives To identify and explain the computer processing and storage capability needed by an organization to handle its information and business transactions. To discuss the arrangement of computers and computer processing that would best benefit a specific organization. To select the kinds of software and software tools needed to run one's business, and discuss the criteria needed to select the software technology needed by the organization. To recognize and explain new software technologies we need to be aware of, and state how they would benefit the organization. To discuss the processes of acquiring and managing the firm's hardware and software assets. Key Terms The following alphabetical list identifies the key terms discussed in this chapter. The page number for each key term is provided. Application Service Provider (ASP), 210 MP3 (MPEG3), 189 Application software, 193 Multimedia, 189 Arithmetic-logic unit (ALU), 183 Natural language, 198 Batch processing, 188 Network-attached storage (NAS), 187 Bit, 183 Network computer (NC), 192 Byte, 183 Object-oriented programming, 200 C, 197 Office 2000 and Office XP, 204 C++, 198 Online processing, 188 Capacity planning, 207 Open-source software, 196 CD-ROM (compact disk read-only memory), 186 Operating system, 193 CD-RW (CD-ReWriteable), 186 Parallel processing, 185 Central processing unit (CPU), 183 Peer-to-peer computing, 192 Centralized processing, 191 Personal computer (PC), 190 Client, 191 Presentation graphics, 204 Client/server computing, 191 Primary storage, 183 COBOL (COmmon Business Oriented Language), 196 Program, 193 Compiler, 194 Radio-frequency identification (RFID), 187 Computer, 182 Query language, 198 Control unit, 184 RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks), 186 Data management software, 203 RAM (random access memory), 184 Digital video disk (DVD), 187 Reduced instruction set computing (RISC), 185 Distributed processing, 191 ROM (read-only memory), 184 Downsizing, 191 Scalability, 208 Electronic mail (e-mail), 205 Secondary storage, 186 Enterprise application integration software, 207 Server, 190 Instructor's Manual Management Information Systems, Eighth Edition 6-2 Enterprise software, 206 Server farm, 190 Floppy disk, 186 Software package, 202 Fourth-generation language, 198 Source code, 194 Graphical user interface (GUI), 194 Spreadsheet, 203 Grid computing, 192 Storage area network (SAN), 187 Groupware, 205 Storage service provider (SSP), 209 Hard disk, 186 Streaming technology, 189 Hypertext markup language (HTML), 201 Supercomputer, 191 Integrated software package, 204 System software, 193 Java, 200 Total cost of ownership (TCO), 208 Linux, 196 UNIX, 196 Machine cycle, 184 Utility computing, 211 Machine language, 196 Visual Basic, Magnetic disk, 186 Visual programming, 200 Magnetic tape, 187 Web browser, 205 Mainframe, 190 Web server, 207 Massively parallel computers, 185 Windows 2000, 196 Megahertz, 184 Windows 98, 195 Microprocessor, 184 Windows .Net server, 196 Middleware, 206 Windows XP, 195 Midrange computer, 190 Minicomputer, 190 XHTML(Extensible Hypertext Markup Language), 202 XML (extensible Markup Language), 201 Teaching Suggestions Since your student's knowledge and comfort level with technology is likely to vary, this chapter can be difficult to teach and test. The technically adept know most of this material, and some of the non-technical types may not find the chapter's contents particularly interesting. However, it is important that you demonstrate the importance of this chapter to your students, since the students must understand the role of computer technology in the success of the organization and its objectives. One way to begin the chapter discussion is to present several horror stories. (Your students may even be able to provide stories of their own.) For example, many firms have found moving to a client/server architecture is not the dream they had been led to believe. The shortage of support, programming, and management tools, as well as the shortage of staff who understand the technology and programs in such an environment, has doomed many such changes to client/server architecture. Also, you should mention to your students that programming problems have cost organizations millions of dollars and provide examples of programming projects which simply failed. This might also be a good place to reiterate the Kmart example. The opening vignette, ―Bank of America (Asia) Upgrades Its IT Infrastructure,‖ nicely illustrates how the right technology can make a company more efficient and competitive. As you discuss this chapter with your students, ask them to identify the types of Instructor's Manual Management Information Systems, Eighth Edition 6-3 technology that are mentioned in the vignette. To facilitate class discussion, ask your students the following questions: 1. Why did the Bank of America (Asia) need to modify its information technology infrastructure? 2. What types of computers were mentioned in the vignette? 3. What type of software is Bank of America (Asia) using? 4. What function does the Clarity EAI software serve? 5. How will the new information technology infrastructure enhance organizational performance? 6. What management challenges might Bank of America (Asia) face? Section 6.1, ―Computer Hardware and Information Technology Infrastructure,‖ introduces students to essential computer hardware terminology and concepts. Students are introduced to a contemporary computer system, the CPU and primary storage, computer processing, secondary storage, input and output technology, and batch and online input and processing. If possible, bring a system unit to class and allow students to see the computer system's parts. Students are often eager to see the inside of a computer and also see that the machine is not as mysterious as it first appears. You should consider organizing a tour of your university's IT facilities or the facilities of a local company. Students are often eager to see information technology in action. Ask your students to review local or national ads for computer systems. Alternatively, ask your students to visit the Web sites for several computer companies, such as Dell and Gateway. Ask your students to evaluate the different computer systems and make recommendations about which system they would recommend purchasing. Alternatively, give your students a scenario and ask the students to select the most appropriate system for the scenario. Ask your students to discuss the factors that influenced their purchasing decisions. Technology is changing so quickly that by the time students read this chapter, new hardware and software products will be out on the market. Students may naturally feel more comfortable with this chapter’s material because hardware and software are the components with which they are most familiar. If they recognize the basic hardware components and understand their uses, they can better communicate with the technicians who are critical to decisions on the uses of the computer, which after all are business decisions. Students (and future managers) need to know the limitations and possibilities of the computer, and the vistas and limitations of the hardware are critical to that understanding. If they can understand the different kinds of software – from off-the- shelf application software to program-it-yourself software – and that it is not necessary to be a programmer in order to use software on information systems, then they really have one of the two main points of the chapter. Secondly, students should learn that there are a variety of tools to solve information system problems — different applications generators or different programming languages. Section 6.2 introduces students to the different categories of computers and computer systems. You should spend some time discussing the capabilities of the different computer types. This is a good place to discuss the trends that are occurring with technology. One part that is familiar to many of us is the continual increasing memory, Instructor's Manual Management Information Systems, Eighth Edition 6-4 speed, and storage capabilities of personal computers. Also, you may want to note the change in interfaces. Another trend that this writer finds interesting is what could be called the shrinking of supercomputers. Most supercomputers in use now are parallel computers. It is possible to link together Intel processors running Linux to form a supercomputer using the Beowolf and Extreme Linux set of tools. One version offered by IBM costs $1.25 million compared with the over $10 million a year that Cray supercomputers cost. Not everyone needs a parallel processing supercomputer, but the decrease in price may increase the use of supercomputers for mathematical and graphical processing, data visualization, and pattern recognition. Section 6.3 introduces students to the different types of software. You might take a quick survey of your students to see what operating systems and application software they currently use. Most of the answers will probably revolve around the Windows operating systems and Microsoft Office suite. However, it is possible that some of your students may use software that the rest of the class is not as familiar with. If this occurs, have your students explain why they use that particular operating system and application software. Students need to understand the business implications of choosing an operating system, since computer systems depend upon operating systems and business capabilities are affected by operating systems. Some operating systems are better designed for networking, and other operating systems are better for speed. You do not need to beat up on MS-DOS. In fact, you may find it helpful to explain how the limitations of the operating systems and the initial hardware of PCs created many problems with which we are still contending. This explanation can help students understand the importance of the operating systems and the choice of operating systems. Note, however, that memory problems are no longer a major issue. Table 6-4 provides a list of the leading PC operating systems. Ask your students to research these different operating systems. As part of their research, ask your students to identify the features of the operating systems, as well as the market share for each operating system. Which is the most appropriate operating system? Also, ask your students to investigate the application programming languages mentioned in Table 6-5. Which is the most appropriate programming language? Many of the more technically adept students might argue over what should be the appropriate operating system or the appropriate programming language. Students should be warned that in their managerial careers, they may have to sort out these issues because the selection of the proper operating system or software package must support the business, and the technical people may not understand that. Unfortunately, for many managers, the answer may be simple–which application software I can get – and that selection may harm the business or at least may not help it. Students need to learn that (almost) anything that can be done in one language can be done in another, but one may be faster for this application while another may be easier to use. You should talk about the superiority of some languages for some tasks. For instance, in Web database development applications, Visual Basic is the language of choice. In fact, the release in early 2001 of VB.NET is the first version of the language that is truly object-oriented. Point out to students that you can make a mistake in choosing a language. There are many examples of companies, organizations, and governments choosing the wrong language for the wrong problem and creating disaster. Instructor's Manual Management Information Systems, Eighth Edition 6-5 Section 6.4 is an important section to discuss with your students. This section stresses the importance of understanding the technology requirements for the digital firm and electronic commerce, discusses how to determine the total cost of ownership, and discusses the decision to own and maintain technology assets or use external technology service providers. To reinforce the contents of this section, have your students research the total cost of ownership for your college's computer lab. Likewise, ask your university's information technology director to speak to your class about the total cost of ownership for the university's technology assets. “Window On” Boxes Window on Technology: Can Linux Go Mainstream? Should a company select Linux as an operating system for its major business applications? Before making the move to Linux, the company should determine how such a move can promote organizational efficiency and productivity. The company should also consider the total cost of ownership. Many companies are selecting Linux as their operating system of choice. Tradeworx, Dreamworks, Boeing, Western Geco, CS First Boston, and E*Trade are just a few of the companies that are using Linux. Since Linux is nonproprietary, inexpensive, stable, portable, and based on Unix, the operating system provides many benefits to companies wishing to use it as their operating system. What are the business as well as the technology issues that should be addressed when making that decision? The issues include total cost of ownership, employee training, types of computer hardware that will run the operating system, what modifications are needed, and who will manage and modify the software. Window on Management: United Technologies Corporation Overhauls Its IT Infrastructure What were the management benefits of consolidating UTC's information technology infrastructure? Management benefits include common standards, consistent quality of information technology people, lower technology management costs, fewer software applications (reduced from 160,000 to 5,000), tighter security, better and regular backup and maintenance, consolidated computer systems (from 20 to 3), consolidated help desks into one center running one system, and annual savings of approximately $1 billion. What management, organization, and technology issues had to be addressed when making the decision to overhaul the infrastructure? Management's goal was to streamline UTC's IT infrastructure. UTC also wanted to centralize and standardize its hardware and software resources. Management made Instructor's Manual Management Information Systems, Eighth Edition 6-6 decisions regarding the acquisition and maintenance of UTC's technology assets. Specific management issues involved making decisions about capacity, scalability, how data are backed up and stored, the quality of its IT people, standardizing its PC and software platform, security procedures, how the consolidation of the computer centers would be handled, and help desk operations. Management also made decisions about installation, training, support, maintenance, infrastructure, downtime, and space and energy issues. The organizational issues involved connecting 152,000 employees in 2,000 locations located in 180 countries. The standardized infrastructure caused organizational changes in the operating procedures, information and workflow, politics, and perhaps culture. Technology issues involved selecting the appropriate hardware, software, communications technology, and storage technology to support UTC's information technology infrastructure. Technology issues also involved the selection, acquisition, and maintenance of UTC technology assets, the types and number of computers to use, how the computers should be networked, the selection of software, and deciding how data should be stored and backed up.