For those of you who have heard all the hype about cloud computing but haven’t dug your hands into it yet there is a company offering free trials of cloud servers: http://www.rightscale.com/products/free_edition.php. They offer 10 hours of playing around with cloud servers on Amazon EC2 which amounts to a whopping $1 value but the good news is that you only have to put in an e-mail address to register. The images they offer are quite extensive and using them it will give you a good insight into what the limitations of using cloud servers are. I found it very useful to see that are pending times before a server actually gets started and something similar when terminating a server. These times are usually several minutes and should definitely be taken into account when the server needs to get started in a hurry.
Additionally I have to say that the scripting abilities offered by RightScale seem quite extensive and very useful.The scripting allows for some very powerful ways of setting up servers. The prices associated with those services however seem a bit steep compared to the bare bones services offered by Amazon.