When we think of IT systems, normally we see systems like web based systems, enterprise computing systems, operating systems, user tools & embedded systems etc. Well most of the IT systems run on computers. But embedded systems are different. They are connected to some hardware device and run exclusively to control functions of the hardware on which they are running. Let us see some differences between embedded systems and other IT systems.
Systems and applications like microsoft office suite, project tracking tools, computer management utilities like anti-virus tools etc. are examples of user tools. Even programming tools like compilers, editor, programming graphical user interface etc. also can be considered as user tools. user tools are intended to be used by people for specific purposes. They are stand alone in nature. this means they normally do not interact with other applications.
Enterprise systems are characterized by a single system running on many computers or being accessed by many computers and usually have a database attached to them. Enterprise systems are used by business organizations to do their everyday business.
The most striking feature of enterprise systems is that they are transaction oriented. A large amount of transactions are performed on these systems like sales, purchase, production, accounting etc.
Embedded systems are characterized by the fact that they are meant to run inside the hardware which is not a computer. The embedded system is supposed control functions of the hardware on which it is mounted. For example, an embedded system is provided in cars to control automatic functions installed on that car. Similarly an embedded system is mounted on weather forecasting systems. These systems collect weather data like temperature, wind speed etc. and send it to satellites. Mobile phones also have an embedded system which keep information about calls, call duration, contact lists etc. With introduction of smart mobile phones, distinction between mobile phones & computers is blurring as mobile phones now have their own operating systems and can do everything as any computer can do besides their normal function as phone.
The most striking feature of embedded systems is that they are event driven. Some event may happen which they will capture through some hardware device. For example a weather forecasting system will capture temperature through the temperature measurement device and then transmit this data.