The term “software” refers to any kind of computer program. Software is a series of data and instructions that tell a particular computer how to perform a certain task. Usually, this consists of just a set of simple instructions like a game program in an interactive operating system. For the sake of simplicity and less confusion, software is sometimes called “code”. This is different from physical hardware where the system just literally performs the required function and is built into the computer machine.
It is very important for software engineers to take user needs and desires into account when writing software programs. User needs are very specific, as they must be satisfied with the high quality output, in the minimum time frame and at the best possible price. While it may sound easy, it is not. Engineers are faced with many difficulties while writing software products, especially those whose final products are used by end-users. For every possible complexity there is in the software product, there must also be a corresponding complexity in its design.
This complexity has two layers – technical and business. On one side, computer software engineering covers the development of software products. On the other side, computer hardware is involved, especially with its specifications, implementation and maintenance. In this article we will look closely at these two layers and what they have to do with each other.
We start with hardware since hardware is really a big part of software engineering. There is more than just implementing the software in the computer. Hardware also determines the performance level and stability of the application software during operation. This means that the performance of the software is dependent on the state of the hardware. To illustrate, it would be useless to implement some high-end graphic card if your computer is below specification level.
Then we come to applications and system software. Application software deals with windows, desktops, servers and printers. System software on the other hand, controls hardware like microcomputers, memory, hard disk drives and so on. Both applications and system software play an important role in an organization. In fact, both these types of software are developed, produced and tested together in a joint venture to yield the best results.
Cloud computing, on the other hand, takes care of both hardware and application software on the client’s behalf. The client can use the resources as and when necessary and is thus able to save on costs. One such example of cloud computing is SaaS. With SaaS, organizations have to pay only for its services and not for any hardware they may have. They can therefore scale up their operations easily when needed without having to worry about purchasing new hardware. Software as a service is another example of cloud computing, where applications and database are sold online to the buyer and the user does not have to concern about installation or licensing fees.