We have some basic scripts. We are using Chef. Amazon instances provide a Chef client. It’s really easy to create the machines and it’s secure.
Getting something like this in place is work intensive and you have to figure out if it’s worth your time in the early days. We planned a lot of overhead to use Chef and built this setup.
We pay far less for our servers than for our office and salaries, so it’s not an issue. If we want to cut costs we just have to improve our code base.