I wish I could say that their is something amazing that I did differently from everyone else who has hosted on EC2, but that’s just not so. Once you get an EC2 instance running, the rest of the process is identical to connecting to a virtual machine anywhere. If you need to add additional Windows components, the directions in this post are dynamite. If you use the management console, the directions on the Amazon article are pretty easy to map to actions in the UI without much thought. So, you are deploying to a virtual machine that is easily duplicated across the Amazon EC2 infrastructure. I would say that the strongest reason to use EC2 is that you already know how to use it. A second reason to use EC2 over your own data center is this: if you are using S3 and SimpleDB, you don’t pay for data transfers within the Amazon data center (but you do pay for data entering and leaving the data center!).
I installed the F# SDK on to the VM, added my web app to the inetpub/wwwroot folder, and made the application into an application root in the IIS Manager. I’d go into details, but these things are all well understood to Web developers. (If you need an assist, e-mail me.)
If you are hosting files and other items on Amazon, it will make sense to use EC2 to host your applications. If you don’t want to go out and buy a bunch of servers, rack them, and find a lot of high quality bandwidth, EC2 makes sense. If you are hosting your applications on an individual server that you rent by the month, you definitely should switch to EC2 (it’s almost the same thing only much less expensive).
Overall, I wasn’t ‘wowed’ by EC2. It’s a VM running on a machine I rent-nothing more. It’s strength is it’s simplicity.
All that said, it’s not my favorite environment for hosting applications on the web. EC2 doesn’t simplify my life-I still have to maintain patches on my own VMs. That’s not horrible and it does give me more control over when updates happen, but it doesn’t simplify things. Perhaps I haven’t been burned often enough by other people’s patches?