With Debian we are already good in preparing software packages in a way that others can install - and optionally recompile - it easily. The Amazon AWS Cloud services brought us Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), mostly sold as an increase in flexibility for public or other services with variable loads. To the Open Source enthusiasts it is more the immediate access to readily configured environments and the exchange of those in the community. And AWS has pioneered also the sharing of public data, which for today's data-driven research may be more critical than compute time. The Eucalyptus euca2ools are a free way to communicate through the Amazon API. And the eucalyptus package allows for the installation of your very own cloud installation.
This needs some confirmation from upstream, but except for VMware interfaces, there should not be a difference between what the community edition in Debian provides and what is available from the upstream servers. For your second steps
Eucylyptus manuals on http://www.eucalyptus.com/eucalyptus-cloud/documentation
Eucalyptus Education portal on http://education.eucalyptus.com
Youtube channel on http://www.youtube.com/eucaeducation
For first steps, Eucalyptus has a community cloud to learn and experiment with it all. There is not speaking anything against using Amazon. Our Wiki has
euca2ools with an introduction to the Amazon Compute Cloud
And I would very much like to see more such simple grounded walkthroughs from us.