Cloud computing is shared pools of configurable computer system resources and higher-level services that can be rapidly provisioned with minimal management effort, often over the Internet. Cloud computing relies on sharing of resources to achieve coherence and economies of scale, similar to a public utility.
Third-party clouds enable organizations to focus on their core businesses instead of expending resources on computer infrastructure and maintenance. Advocates note that cloud computing allows companies to avoid or minimize up-front IT infrastructure costs.
Cloud providers typically use a “pay-as-you-go” model, which can lead to unexpected operating expenses if administrators are not familiarized with cloud-pricing models.
Since the launch of Amazon EC2 in 2006, the availability of high-capacity networks, low-cost computers and storage devices as well as the widespread adoption of hardware virtualization, service-oriented architecture, and autonomic and utility computing has led to growth in cloud computing.