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An Amazon Machine Image (AMI) is similar to an imaged version of your server. Typically, you start from an Amazon provided base image, of which you launch an instance, configure the application and role specifics, and then bundle it into your own AMI for quick launching and scalability. This allows for the AMI to be preconfigured as a web server (e.g., Windows Server, IIS, and your web site), or as any other role.
A large selection of AMIs is available from Amazon and the Amazon EC2 community. For more information, go to Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) at the AWS website.
You can use the AWS Management Console (at http://console.aws.amazon.com) to search for AMIs that meet specific criteria and then launch instances of those AMIs. For example, you can view the AMIs Amazon has provided, AMIs the EC2 community has provided, or AMIs that use certain operating systems.
In this walkthrough, we will use an Amazon Windows AMI that has Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, SQL Server Express 2008 R2, and IIS installed. To find one fitting these make sure you have an AMI with IIS installed, For more information about Windows AMIs, go to Amazon Windows AMI Basics in the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud Microsoft Windows Guide.
To find a suitable AMI
Open the Amazon EC2 console at https://console.aws.amazon.com/ec2/.
Make sure that US East (N. Virginia) is selected in the region selector of the navigation bar.
In the navigation pane, click AMIs.
In the Filter lists, select Public Images, then Amazon Images, then Windows. This limits the display to AMIs that are provided by Amazon Web Services.
Select an AMI that is running Windows Server 2008 R2, IIS and SQL Express. To do that, you'll need to select an AMI and then read the Description tab below the list. With a suitable AMI selected, click Launch.
You will use this AMI as a baseline. Clicking Launch starts the launch wizard, which configures your instance and then launches it. In Step 4: Launch an Instance, we will walk through the wizard.