koding.com has a free VM running Ubuntu. The specs are pretty good, 1 gig memory for example. They have a terminal online you can access through their website, or use SSH. The VM will go to sleep approximately 20 minutes after you log out. The reason is to discourage users from running live production code on the VM. The VM resides behind a proxy. Running web servers that only speak HTTP (port 80) should work just fine, but I think you'll get into a lot of trouble whenever you want to work directly with other ports. Many mind-like alternatives offer similar setups. Good luck!

Deploy a full range of open-source and community-driven software solutions on Azure. Choose from a full range of Linux distributions like Red Hat, Ubuntu, SUSE, and community-driven solutions like Chef, Puppet, and Docker. Deploy virtual machines for other products like Oracle Database and Oracle WebLogic Server. Azure is open with lots of options.

However another option is to pool together a cluster of physical servers into a cloud arrangement whereby the data is stored across several physical disks in several physical machines. This dramatically reduces the possibility of hardware related downtime by spreading the load and the risk of hardware failure. This is a High Availability Cloud setup which Pickaweb uses.
Stability and speed - the main advantages of running Debian as your web server OS. Significant speed benefits, bug tracking systems, and multiple architectures make it flexible and reliable. Easy upgrades, strict security, and a top-notch packaging system. Powered by over a thousand volunteers, Debian is proudly one of the most significant open-source community projects in history. Be part of the movement with Debian OS.
Save up to 80 percent with Azure Reserved Virtual Machine Instances when combined with Azure Hybrid Benefit for Windows Server, or save up to 72 percent on all virtual machines. Simply select your region, virtual machine series, and term. Improve budgeting and forecasting with a single up-front payment while maintaining flexibility should your business needs change. Easily exchange or cancel Azure Reserved Virtual Machine Instances at any time.
You can choose to create additional VPCs by going to the Amazon VPC page on the AWS Management Console and selecting the "Start VPC Wizard" button. You’ll be presented with four basic network topologies. Select the one that most closely resembles the network topology that you’d like to create and choose the "Create VPC" button. Once the VPC has been created, you can begin launching Amazon EC2 instances into your VPC.
VPS hosting is like you are living in an apartment complex. It means that other people are living in the same building, but you have your own secure apartment. You will get more room and restrictions will be fewer as compared to living in a dorm. It also means that if your neighbour is misbehaving, it is the problem of owner of building, not yours.
A VPS hosting provider relies on virtualization software, called a hypervisor, to abstract resources on a physical server and provide customers with access to an emulated server, called a virtual machine (VM). Each virtual machine runs a complete operating system, and has restricted access to a portion of the physical server's compute, memory and storage resources. Customers have access to the VM's OS, but not to the physical server.
With unmanaged cloud VPS hosting, the hosting provider is only responsible for the physical server and the availability of the server.  This means that with the exception of the initial OS installation, the user is responsible for the maintenance, upgrades, installation of software, etc.  If you choose unmanaged cloud VPS hosting, you should be familiar with the operating system and server software you choose to use.

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