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I second the recommendation to use CloudFormation + packer + ELBs + auto scaling groups for web applications whenever possible, it just makes everything so easy and automatic. Of course, there's a learning curve and you pay a premium for all that automation, but in my experience it has been usually worth it so far.

I like going one step further and making deployments and AWS resources into reusable code using Troposphere: https://github.com/cloudtools/troposphere

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