So instead of reading my usual trade rag for lunch, I decided to check out Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). Amazon.com hosts a service whereby you create a virtual Linux server out in the cloud and install your apps on it: http://developer.amazonwebservices.com/connect/kbcategory.jspa?categoryID=84
The basic install instructions take about an hour or so to go through:
You first need to create a developer account and assign yourself some space on their Simple Storage Service platform (S3):
I did the setup and got a virtual machine up and running as a web server. I would have provided you a test URL to hit, but I have since discontinued the VM I setup. So here is a screen grab of some simple commands I ran on the server:
It would probably be pricey for the average user, but a small business could easily afford it:
The machine specs are somewhat low powered: 2.4Ghz AMD Opteron 250/1GB mem/single proc/160GB, but suitable for web serving. After the base install, an admin would logon via ssh and upload/install whatever apps necessary.
The great thing about this service is that it is going to make development and deployment of new applications much easier, as well as give the ability to scale up or down on demand. Kudos to Amazon!