Welcome to the Technology Glossary for Sales and Marketing People. This glossary was created to help non-technical sales and marketing people gain a fuller understanding of the technology products and services that they sell and market.
If you wish to suggest a correction or a new term for us to define, please leave a note about what you need in the comments section of this blog.
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Click on a letter from the list to go to that section or use the search widget at the top of this page to search for a topic.
Applications Programming Interface (API)
An API is a set of software commands that can be used by programmers to write specific types of programs. An API is typically created as a method of talking to a device like a disk drive or USB port or as a collection of related functions like a graphics library for writing games. APIs are included with all modern Operating systems for common functionality like writing to the screen or printing and storing and retrieving files.
In addition to these standard APIs, others can be purchased or downloaded and used free of charge (this is how so-called open source software is used)
These additional functions allow programmers to write programs more quickly since they can purchase and use a proven and tested API an use it’s pecialized functions. If they did not purchase the API library, they would need to write code that would provide the functionality of the API themselves.
Examples of commercial APIs that are sold include: real-time operating systems in the embedded software world and specialized customer relationship management functions like those supplied in the salesforce.com API.
Computing hardware is an electronic system that can be used to run software. The types of hardware used to implement these types of systems are:
- Custom hardware devices such as FPGAs, EPLDs and ASICs – electronic hardware pre-programmed to do a function
- Microprocessors – a chip or suite of chips used to run software
- Microcontrollers – a chip that typically runs embedded software and has many additional I/O devices included on-chip
- DSPs – a specialized microprocessor that excels at fast mathematical computations
An Operating System is software that runs computing hardware. The Operating System provides all the software services needed to start-up and use a system.
In the desktop computing world, most are familiar with Popular Operating Systems (OSs) such as Windows, LINUX and MacOS. These Operating Systems are know by the user interface and the features that they provide to users.
In contrast, to desktop systems, there is another class of Operating System know as a Real-Time Operating System or RTOS. An RTOS is also responsible for providing the software services needed to start-up and use a system.
The difference between an RTOS and a Desktop Operating System is the system for which an RTOS is used. An RTOS is used for so-called Embedded Devices or Products. Embedded Devices are computer/microprocessor (or microcontroller) based, but as a rule they don’t run desktop operating systems.
(It should be noted that the current version of MACOS is based on LINUX and that the new iPHONE uses and embedded version of this LINUX distribution, also their are both desktop and embedded versions of Windows)
Embedded Systems are smart devices that may or may not have a user interface. So examples include:
- an iPOD
- a CELL Phone
- Test equipment like a network analyzer
- a Cable Modem
- a Wireless Router
An OEM is a company that manufacturers a product. The reason for the original moniker is that companies often buy products from their original creators (the OEM), and then private label them as their own. This can happen in several forms:
- Radio Shack takes a Cell Phone from Motorola and then puts the Radio Shack name and branding on it.
- A Switch/Router vendor, reselling a low end home router made by an OEM to round out their product line.
To make things interesting, OEM is often used as a verb as in: We OEM’D the sound system from Delphi, meaning that they purchased the sound system to integrate into their system.
The key is that the system is originally made by the OEM, then sold by the OEM in volume to a company which need the product to round out their solution.
Their are many jobs where you may be required to sell or market OEM products. Some examples might include:
- An OEM software library (in applications programming interface [API] form).
- An electronic and mechanical subsystem like a print engine for a laser printer.
Real-Time Operating System (RTOS)
An RTOS is a piece of software used to control a smart device such as a CELL Phone or a Cable Modem. An RTOS is typically written in the C or C++ language and is designed to be small in size (RAM and ROM Memory usage) and fast in operation. The real-time aspect is the most important characteristic of an RTOS. This real-time functionality means that an RTOS can respond to an event in a specific period of time. The response of an RTOS must be both repeatable and verifiable regardless of system configuration. In short, you use a RTOS when your system must not miss a deadline or the bad thing will happen. In the real world, this could mean that your anti-lock breaks fail or that you get too much radiation in an X-ray. Standard desktop Operating Systems (windows, etc) are not designed to support these types of mission-critical tasks.