Just as with the personal computer, mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets also have operating systems and application software. These mobile devices are in many ways just smaller versions of personal computers. A mobile app is a software application designed to run specifically on a mobile device.
As discussed in chapter 3 smartphones are becoming the dominant form of computing, with more smartphones being sold than personal computers. Businesses have adjusted to this trend by increasing their investment in the development of apps for mobile devices. The number of mobile apps in the Apple App Store has increased from zero in 2008 to over 2 million in 2017 (Statista, 2018).
Cloud Computing

Historically, an individual copy of the software had to be installed on the computer to use it. The concept of cloud computing changed this, as applications, services, and data storage are made accessible through the internet. Cloud service providers rely on giant server farms and massive storage devices that are connected via a network.
You probably already use cloud computing in some form. For example, if you access your email on your web browser, or use Google Drive’s applications you are using a form of cloud computing. While these are free versions of cloud computing, there is big business in providing applications and data storage over the web. Software as a service (SaaS) is software that is rented rather than purchased. It is subscription based. Software as a service gives companies access to a large assortment of software packages without having to invest in hardware or install and maintain software on its own computers. The available software, which includes e-mail and collaboration systems and customer relationship management programs, can be customized and used by an individual client or shared among several clients.
Advantages of Cloud Computing Disadvantages of Cloud Computing
No software to install or upgrades to maintain.
Available from any computer that has access to the Internet.
Can scale to a large number of users easily.
New applications can be up and running very quickly.
Services can be leased for a limited time on an as-needed basis.
Your information is not lost if your hard disk crashes or your laptop is lost or stolen.
You are not limited by the available memory or disk space on your computer.
Your information is stored on someone else’s computer.
You must have Internet access to use it.
You are relying on a third-party to provide these services.
Cloud computing has the ability to really impact how organizations manage technology. For example, why is an IT department needed to purchase, configure, and manage personal computers and software when all that is really needed is an Internet connection?
Automatic upgrades can be done without notice causing confusion for the user.
The benefit is that all of the software requirements are outsourced to a company with expertise. However, the concern is that this can leave a company vulnerable. If a traditional software company goes out of business, in most cases its customers can still go on using its products. But if your SaaS vendor goes under, they have all the data, and even if firms could get their data out, most organizations don’t have the hardware, software, staff, or expertise to quickly absorb an abandoned function. Firms that buy and install packaged software usually have the option of sticking with the old stuff as long as it works, but organizations adopting SaaS may find they are forced into adopting new versions. Keep in mind that SaaS systems are also reliant on a network connection. If a firm’s link to the Internet goes down, the link to its SaaS vendor is also severed. Relying on an Internet connection also means that data is transferred to and from a SaaS firm at Internet speeds, rather the potentially higher speeds of a firm’s internal network.
Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Cloud computing is not limited to web applications. It can also be used for services such as audio or video streaming. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the largest on-demand cloud computing platform. AWS offers more than 90 services ranging from computing, storage, networking, database, analytics application services, deployment, mobile, developer tools, and the Internet of Things (Wikiversity, n.d.).

Using a Private Cloud

Many organizations are understandably nervous about giving up control of their data and some of their applications by using cloud computing. But they also see the value in reducing the need for installing software and adding disk storage to local computers. A solution to this problem lies in the concept of a private cloud. While there are various models of a private cloud, the basic idea is for the cloud service provider to section off web server space for a specific organization. The organization has full control over that server space while still gaining some of the benefits of cloud computing.

Virtualization is the process of using software to simulate a computer or some other device. For example, using virtualization a single physical computer can perform the functions of several virtual computers, usually referred to as Virtual Machines (VMs). Organizations implement virtual machines in an effort to reduce the number of physical servers needed to provide the necessary services to users. This reduction in the number of physical servers also reduces the demand for electricity to run and cool the physical servers. For more detail on how virtualization works, see this informational page from VMWare.



Desktop software refers to applications installed on a personal computer—your browser, your Office suite, photo editors, and computer games are all desktop software. Enterprise software refers to applications that address the needs of multiple, simultaneous users in an organization or work group. Most companies run various forms of enterprise software programs to keep track of their inventory, record sales, manage payments to suppliers, cut employee paychecks, and handle other functions.
Some firms write their own enterprise software from scratch, but this can be time consuming and costly. Since many firms have similar procedures for accounting, finance, inventory management, and human resource functions, it often makes sense to buy a software package (a software product offered commercially by a third party) to support some of these functions. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software packages serve precisely this purpose. In the way that Microsoft can sell you a suite of desktop software programs that work together, many companies sell ERP software that coordinates and integrates many of the functions of a business.
The leading ERP vendors include the firm’s SAP and Oracle, although there are many firms that sell ERP software. A company does not have to install all of the modules of an ERP suite, but it might add functions over time—for example, to plug in an accounting program that is able to read data from the firm’s previously installed inventory management system. And although a bit more of a challenge to integrate, a firm can also mix and match components, linking software the firm has written with modules purchased from different enterprise software vendors. We will discuss enterprise software in more detail in chapter 11 and decision support software in chapter 12.

Enterprise Resource Planning System
Most enterprise software works in conjunction with a database management system (DBMS). The database management system stores and retrieves the data that an application creates and uses. Although the DBMS is itself considered an application, it’s often useful to think of a firm’s database systems as sitting above the operating system, but under the enterprise applications. Many ERP systems and enterprise software programs are configured to share the same database system so that an organization’s different programs can use a common, shared set of data. This system can be hugely valuable for a company’s efficiency. We will discuss databases and DBMS’s in chapter 5.


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