A computer system poses complexity in its design because it has more internal structure, and is subject to change. It is imperative to note that there is no best way of building a computer system, but horrible ways can be avoided by having a clear division of responsibilities among the parts (Lampson, 1984). Some of the crucial determinants of success of a computer system include functionality, speed and fault tolerance. A successful computer system should work fast enough, as well as, keep on working for a long time without any fault. Therefore, experts should consider completeness, interface and implementation of a computer system as the most essential features (Lampson, 1984).
Most computer systems that are considered successful demonstrate a positive direct effect on the perceived eases of use. Therefore, some computer systems are never fully accepted by their intended users, and are underutilized (Hasan, 2007). Also, very few IT systems have been categorized as truly successful. There are numerous factors and processes that make IT projects complex (The British ComputerSociety, 2006). Understanding and proper management of these projects is important to comprehend why such projects fail. It also helps to understand how proper management of complexity can increase success for computer systems.
Technology is an important source of complexity of computer systems, but the key source of complexity is the scope of the project, as set by management (The British Computer Society, 2006). Among the success or failure factors are social, economic and technical factors. These factors influence whether the complex computer system project succeeds or fails in its objectives. There must be technical and social strategies designed to detect and manage external and internal influences to ensure success of any complex computer system. A successful, complex computer system should saves on time and budget, while it maintains the anticipated functionality (The British Computer Society, 2006).
An excellent example of a complex computer system is the Smart Meter that was designed and developed by LogicaCMG. This is an Instant Energy Project that the company, which deals with research, design and production of prepayment gas meters, introduced to the United Kingdom energy market to make work easier for energy suppliers and domestic clients (The British Computer Society, 2006). Central service installed on server database and application server. These have interfaces and tier supplier infrastructure
The Smart Meter System has several components. First, the Smart Meter’s Central System has a web interface and Oracle database (TheBritishComputerSociety, 2006). The web interface and Oracle database have been built on a Distributed Computing Infrastructure. Integration of these components with the central system allows for online payment. The payment is identified by the payment agent. A Short Message (SMS) is processed by the SMS provider system. Also, every Smart Meter System has an Apache web server, which is used to deliver user interfaces. The Oracle 9i database component of the system is was used to produce the database, while the Tomcat servlet container is driven by Java and the STRUTS framework (TheBritishComputerSociety, 2006). This uses Java Server Pages and cascading style sheets for presentation layer. The Prepayment Metering Infrastructure Provider application allows suppliers to interact with their meters in real time (The British Computer Society, 2006).
The Smart Meter System is a complex computer system because it allows domestic clients and domestic energy provision customers to make prepayments for their gas, using their mobile phones. The Smart Meter System is also complex because it is can be used by both vendors and end user clients. Therefore, the system accepts top ups in terms of monetary values by customers via their mobile phones (The British Computer Society, 2006). Consequently, plans were put in place to sell the Smart Meter to houses and business premises so as to replace the existing meters that could not allow prepayment top ups through mobile phones. Also, complexity of the Smart Meter arose because there had to be innovation using new technologies that had to be put into a well established energy market in the United Kingdom.
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