IT Software: Analysis of Some Key Topics Essay

Introduction

Computer systems are an integral part of the modern man (Amant & Still, 2007).  The level of appreciation of development in computing and the  level of applicability of computers to daily life differentiates the developing from the developed countries.   Computers as machines are made up of several components each of which determines a great deal on the efficiency of the system in meeting the user needs.  The software component is considered the core of the computers and is defined as a collection of program that collective interact to perform given functions.

Module One

Proprietary Vs. Open Source Software

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Softwares present the interface for the users to perform complex computer application without necessarily having to know the system level details of operation (Amant & Still, 2007).  The application users is hidden or encapsulated from the complex programming needed for any computers operations by the software.  In the computing world, software are either open sourced are proprietary.  Open sourced softwares are those whose use are liberally granted and therefore the end user is under no obligation to pay any form of licensing fee before they can use them (Amant & Still, 2007).  This is made possible by the availability of their source code which is widely disseminated across the web and are therefore accessible to all who may require their use.  Java is one of the most popular open source software and it is used widely at both user and organizational level.  Proprietary software is owned by a company or an individual who defines to what level the software can be used and by whom.  If an individual is to use a proprietary software the law requires him to have the permission from the owner who may charge some fee for the use of his academic product (Amant & Still, 2007).  The proprietary softwares are used by many software packages and  are firmly integrated into the computing world.

The open source and the proprietary softwares both have advantage depending on how there are used.  A common problem in the use of open source softwares is the availability of support.  In the computer environment and other technologically advanced fields support is fundamental (Amant & Still, 2007).  The support should be easily accessible and readily provided by the vendors and is one of the consideration in coming up with an information systems.  Open source softwares have poor support systems as the owner of the software is under no obligation to provide any form of support to the user.  The use of open source software is considered risky and inefficient if the user is not well informed on their applicability.  On the contrary, proprietors of softwares have both legal and moral obligation to support the users using software packages developed from their softwares.  The support system may include the use of e-mails and in built help applications.  However, their effectiveness in providing the needed support is brought into question if the user possess limited computing skills (Amant & Still, 2007).  Support is only important if it can help the end user in meeting his computing requirements.  The level of support provided by the proprietary software companies is so low that an ordinary user may find it ineffective, on the other hand most open source companies, notably Red Hat, are working tirelessly at developing system that will ensure customers support.  Therefore, it is difficult for the ordinary user to choose either open source or proprietary software on the basis of the support they provide.

Functionality is a definitive aspects in choosing a software package (Amant & Still, 2007).  There are a number of open source software that a user can choose from that will meet their computing needs.  The reverse is true for the proprietary software which are few and very stringent in their implementation (Amant & Still, 2007).  The use of proprietary software is seen as a step towards poor functionality and a decrease in the levels of efficiency in meeting the end users needs.  However, the proprietary software have a guarantee for taking responsibility of any harm that their use may cause on the computer resources.  This is not the case for the open source software some of whom can cause unimaginable loss to the computer and its resources.  The challenge is therefore at which level does the reliability surpass the need for increased functionality? A major factors that causes a shift in this balance is the time taken in meeting  the market requirements.  Using a proprietary software is not a choose-implement process for there are a number of logistic and bureaucratic processes that have be considered (Amant & Still, 2007).

Module Two

People Vs. Managerial Skills

The management approach used in project development determines to a great extent the speed of its completion and its conformance to specifications (Amant & Still, 2007).  Management and leadership are central parts of any strategic planning process for the manager as the coordinator of the different personnel and processes determines how the project is done and by whom?  A project manager in an information technology related skills may either posses people skills or be from a technological background or both.

People skills are concerned with managing people in a project (Amant & Still, 2007).  Projects are formulated to be implemented by people and therefore the management of the human component of a plan is very crucial.  Since projects include many people from different background, the manager must exhibit highly developed people skill to manage such a population in a manner that will ensure the overall success of the project.  The manager must have problem solving skills and have a well developed sense of direction and charisma that will be transmitted to his subordinates and thus the entire project.  Furthermore, the managers should have well developed communication’s skills.  The main tool in the management of people is communications for it is only through directives that plans and milestones are met.  Communication of systems requirements, goals of the project to the organization and relay of directives during implementation are some of the areas in which efficient communication is required.  The managers should be creative enough to come up with mechanism and modes of communication  that will maximize on the organization’s resource usage while ensuring maximum efficiency.

Technological skills are highly essential in any IT project (Amant & Still, 2007).  Projects involve the coordination of many system and application engineers or programmers.  The diversity of their knowledge and varied points of view may affect the plans in both negative and positive manner.  The ability to  determine what will affect the organization in a positive or negative manner is largely dependent on the technological know how of the project managers.  He should be able to decide on the cost effective approach, the efficiency associated with an approach and effectiveness in meeting the projects objectives.

The interplay between technological skills and people skills is important.  It is upon the management of processes based on technological knowhow that the direction in people management is determined.  Therefore, the two aspects are intertwined thus the success of a technologically oriented project relies on the levels of interplay between people and technological skills.  It is recommended to have a manager from both fields; such managers are hard to come by and if found their services are often expensive (Amant & Still, 2007).  In systems development, it is advisable for the organization to hire a more technologically oriented project manager at the initial phases and a more people manager at the latter stages.  In either approaches, there are pros and cons and it is upon the organization to assess its plans and analyze the impact each approach will have on the progress of the plan before deciding of the appropriate course of actions for clearly there is no one specific right course of action.

Leadership is different from management (Amant & Still, 2007).  Management is more of a science and leadership leans more on the art bit.  It is thus not accurate to assess the contribution a project manager will have on the project by either his management or technical credential for people management and the ability to solve problems in general is an art perfected with experience and some even belief it is an inborn ability and training is just a way of exposing it.

Module Three

Windows Vista Vs. Windows XP

Windows Vista presents more functionality that the current Windows XP.  The user interface implemented by Win. Vista is an updated version of the one currently used by the organization, it has better functionality for it has improved search features, new multimedia creation tools inbuilt in the system and redesigned audio and display sub-system.  Windows Vista is aimed at improving the peer-peer communication between nodes in a network by simplifying file  and audio device sharing.  The organization will therefore benefit if it adopts this new operating system for it will be provided better functionality and a faster system.  The other effects that are directly linked to the improved functionality include improved data management and a general user satisfaction with the system.

Technology changes so fast and there is little the organization can do to change this fact.  A failure in embracing technology is a path towards the failure of an information system.  If the organization had not implemented Win. XP and was still using the earlier versions like Win. 95 the usability of the system will no doubt be in question.  Data formats supported by the more functional recent equipments are not recognized by the older technologies (Amant & Still, 2007).  If the organizations fails to adopt this technology by maintaining a conservative stance there is a high likelihood that its information system will soon be phased out and information will only be flowing within the organizations, moreover upgrades will be rendered impossible and therefore a crash of the information system will be on call.

Commercialization has increased the level of competition which is are bound to go higher each day.  Reputation in a competitive industry gives some degree of competitive advantage to an organization for it is viewed to be superior to the others.  If an organization uses an information system that is recent and provides better functionality word will soon spreads through the markets and the industry (Amant & Still, 2007).  The outcome is the organization will have a ready pool of highly skilled workers who are willing to work in the highly developed information system so as to learn the current trends; a common requirement in technological fields.  Markets which have also adopted a more information conscious approach to buying will be attracted to products and services from a company whose information system is up to date for such organizations appear professional and so the customers are convinced of their services or products.

The implementation of the system determines the effect it will have on the workers who naturally have a phobia for change.  A change management approach to the adoption of the new system must be used.  The changes must not be forced on the workers, they should be allowed to see the benefit of the system before it is implemented.  The main reason for failure in the implementation of any change process is the hasty implementation of change where the people are left with little option but to resist (Amant & Still, 2007).  The changes are introduced slowly in a system by employing a system where both XP and Vista are used.  This will allow the user to experience the superior feel of using Vista and therefore the employees will be requesting for change instead of resisting it (Amant & Still, 2007).

Module Four

Shelfware in Enterprise Systems

A major problem in the implementation of information systems is that a number of softwares are left idle (Amant & Still, 2007).  This is a major worry as software engineers are busy making their system while the average user of an information system has no idea that such a software exists.  In a conventional model, the manufacturer creates goods for the sole consumption of the consumer therefore if there is any failure in the system, a gap is formed that can be hard to fill.  As the manufacturers are implementing extremely high technologies,  the end user has lagged behind and is using technologies that are outdated.  If a situation should arise where the end user get the latest technology straight from the manufacturer there will be trouble since their will be an application gap.  Conventionality packaged software vendors are in business for marketing their goods and they will therefore concentrate in selling their products by convincing the buyers of the goodness they stand to benefit by employing their products (Amant & Still, 2007).  Furthermore, some softwares are extremely complex to implement and thus the end user is left with no option but to keep in on storage while they develop skills that may one day see the implementation of the stored softwares.

The issue is controversial and some people feel that the nature of the problem has been grossly overstated (Amant & Still, 2007).  The controversy therefore lies in the exact magnitude of the problem.  It is worth noting it is rare for an ordinary application to lack in usability.  Softwares that are kept in stores instead of CPUs are such that their initial installation is so complex that the user prefers to leave them.  Therefore, the problem affects the highly specialized users and is thus limited to a few computers users.  Though a problem may appear small just because the statistics state so, this is not always the case.  The problem is that a number of softwares are never implemented, the nature of research into such dingy areas is such that unless a user remember that he has a software that he has never implemented the problem may never be realized.  There is a high likelihood that the problem is so wide spread for in reality change in technology that characterize the computing world renders some software useless before they even reach the market.

Large or small, shelfware is a reality that the computing world has to deal with to eliminate the loss of resources especially time and money on softwares that will never seen the light of day (Amant & Still, 2007).  First and foremost, the end consumer should be protected from the exploratory vendors who will feed them any lie regarding the applicability of their software.  Ordinary users do not have the knowledge needed to distinguish between a marketing stance and the real software functionality.  Moreover, the nature of computing is such that users have to try out a programme to determine its functionality and therefore users are prone to buying softwares that they may never implement (Amant & Still, 2007).  Coming up with trial versions of softwares addresses this threat for users are given a duration, usually a couple of weeks, to try out the product before they can decide whether to buy it.

Module Five

Support: Is it Effective?

The problem with the computer is that it has failed to safe a word file.  When the user tries to save the file an error message appears stating that the document does not exist though the user has previously saved it in the specified location.  The operating system in question is the Linux Ubuntu version 2.4.  To troubleshoot the problem the user logs to the official site of the open source software dealer <http://www.ubuntu.com/support>.  One of the notable feature is the site takes such a long time to load and if the user has other options he is best advised to seek it rather than seek this avenue to solving the problem.  A dialog box on the top right corner of the page provides the functionality to move the user to any area of interest.  The words “errors while saving” are typed on the search box and the enter command made.  The search returns no result and is therefore ineffective in troubleshooting.

Support provided by the system is as important as its actual functionality.  Some software component have limited usability and require highly specialized handling though there are some that are so easy to use that additional support is rarely required (Amant & Still, 2007).  Support can come in form of tutorials, web help, user manuals or even chats.  Some software vendors have established help centers and in locations where the users of their systems can get help form their support staff.  There has been increased effort by all major software vendors to improve on the usability of their systems.  However the satisfaction of the end user in terms of usability and the effectiveness of their services in meeting their queries is limited as users are increasingly becoming more irate as their needs are not being met.

If the support system is compared to the development in software complexity, it is dragging slowly as the rate of development in software technology is so high.  The same methods that were used in addressing the support system in the 1990’s are still being used in addressing the user needs in the 2000’s (Amant & Still, 2007).  On the other hand, the protocols and the standards used by the computers have changed so much thus there is evidently a gap in support.  The problem is made worse by different manufacturers who use varying standards and the extreme competition between the vendors that make it impossible for a vendor to assists a user using a competing brand.

A major problem in the support systems implemented by any vendors is accessibility.   The help centers are often over crowded and they offer rather impersonalized services that reduce the efficiency in transmitting the required knowledge.  Some use support staff who have poor communication skills and are thus ineffective in communicating the corrective measures to the support seekers (Amant & Still, 2007).  The web approach to support has the worst implementation as the searches often reap useless information and the navigation around the pages allocated for support is ever so poor.  The manuals and the tutorials rarely address the key problems and where they do they use extremely technical language that the users rarely comprehend what is being discussed.    Therefore, support has developed at the formulation phase but the implementation is still as poor as it was a number of years ago.

Reference List

Amant, K. S. & Still, B. (2007). Handbook of Research on Open Source Software: Technological, Economic, and Social Perspectives.  Hershey: Idea Group Inc.