While waiting for a new project, I wanted to learn something useful. And because on many projects we need to assess and test the performance of the application being developed while only rarely there is enough hardware for generating a realistic load, I decided to learn more about provisioning virtual machines on demand in the Cloud, namely Amazon Web Services (AWS). I’ve learned a lot about the tools available to work with AWS and the automation of the setup of resources (machine instances, security groups, databases etc.) and automatic customization of virtual machine instances in the AWS cloud. I’d like to present a brief introduction into AWS and a succinct overview of the tools and automation options. If you are familiar with AWS/EC2 then you might want to jump over the introduction directly to the automation section.