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Commodity computing refers to a company's use of lower-cost hardware assets in order to get more computing power. Instead of buying elaborate supercomputers, businesses that use commodity computing pool the processing power of a number of more conventional and lower-cost computers, such as work stations that the business already owns. This can help a business acquire more processing power at a considerably lower cost.
In many cases, the units used for commodity computing are simple PCs. These machines can run Microsoft Windows and often use Windows for a local network operating system. However, they can also run Linux and other open source operating systems. One of the benefits of commodity computing is that these collective systems can be compact, and that companies can essentially re-use existing assets.
Over time, ideas about system maintenance have come up around commodity computing setups. One of these is mean time between failures (MTBF), which indicates how likely it is that one individual element of the commodity computing setup will fail during a given time period. Those looking to combine the power of many individual computers have to consider MTBF, as well as the practical arrangement of these resources to form a collective hardware system.