I've spent the last few months, in the middle of all the other projects I've been working on, getting a new version of EC2 for Poets ready. And as of today, it's reached a certain level of ready-ness. So here goes!
This version, unlike the previous one, is a baseline package, a requirement for other server software to come. A platform.
The idea is simple: Keeping a server in the cloud should be no more difficult than keeping a computer on your desk. The same issues apply. The only difference is that you keep the server running most of the time. (You can shut it down if you know you aren't going to need it.) And the cool thing is that you can access it over the Internet. It can be doing things on your behalf while you're out and about. And it doesn't cost very much to run, esp if you can share it among several people in a workgroup, a class or department.
For example, when I was testing this installation, I put up a server and accessed its It Worked page and its Hello World page. You can see the raw IP address in those URLs. It took about 15 minutes to set up the server, and most of that time was waiting for the virtual elves at Amazon to do their thing (called "provisioning").
I will write about this package many times in the future. It will be a requirement for my minimal blogging software. And a bunch of other servers I'm thinking about. So don't expect me to run servers that you access for free, that's against my religion. I believe you should pay for your servers, and thereby control your destiny. The challenge is to make the experience as good as, or better than the service you get from the corporate silos.