Interest in open-source cloud-computing projects is growing, reports MIT Technology Review, fueled by users’ desire to build and customize their own computing clouds to work alongside more powerful commercial solutions. Cloud-computing platforms such as Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Microsoft’s Azure Services Platform, and Google App Engine have given many users flexible access to computing resources–ushering in an era in which, among other things, startups can operate with much lower infrastructure costs. Instead of having to buy or rent hardware, users can pay for only the processing power that they actually use and are free to use more or less as their needs change. However, relying on cloud computing comes with drawbacks, including privacy, security, and reliability concerns. So there is now growing interest in open-source cloud-computing tools, for which the source code is freely available. These include Eucalyptus, which imitates the experience of using EC2 but lets users run programs on their own machines; the University of Chicago’s Globus Nimbus; and a European cloud-computing initiative coordinated by IBM, called RESERVOIR, which features several open-source components–including OpenNebula, a tool for managing the virtual machines within a cloud. Reuven Cohen, founder and chief technologist of Enomaly, explains that an open-source cloud provides useful flexibility for academics and large companies. For example, he says, a company or university might want to run most of its computing in a commercial cloud but use the same software to process sensitive data on its own machines, for added security. Or, a user might want to run software on his or her own resources most of the time, but have the option to expand to a commercial service in times of high demand. In both cases, an open-source cloud-computing interface can offer that flexibility, serving as a complement to the commercial service rather than a replacement…

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