Most newcomers will start and stop their Joyent machines through the Web interface, which offers slick real-time graphs of the loads. If you want to automate the process, there's a JSON-driven API that can handle the configuration through a script.
The machines let you deploy your code via Git, the repository-based version-control mechanism that's becoming more and more standard. If you push your version of server.js, Joyent will do the rest. If you need root access, you can log in with an SSH key, but it's not clear to me that you'll ever need to. It helps to be familiar with Solaris because the Joyent SmartOS is based on this venerable tool. If you don't want a SmartOS machine, you can choose from Fedora, CentOS, Ubuntu, and Windows. The premier database is MongoDB, the latest favorite for Node users, but Riak and MySQL machines are also ready to run.
Node.js tools: Microsoft Windows AzureMicrosoft took one look at Node.js and obviously was smitten. Redmond put it to work immediately, giving it a place of honor in the Azure cloud alongside .Net, Java, and PHP. If you want Microsoft to host your Node server in their cloud, it will charge you by the minute at competitive rates. It's all ready.
The Azure toolkit comes with a large collection of tools and so-called cmdlets that let you debug your server.js file on your own machine. When it's ready, you push it right into the cloud. Microsoft's tools for your machine are largely driven by the command line. You type long commands like Join-AzureNodeRoleToMongoRole, and all local configuration issues are handled for you. You don't need to remember the details. I'm sure Microsoft is working on a push-button application. Soon you won't even need to type all of the commands.
Azure's Node tools include most of the latest Node goodies like the connection with MongoDB, one of the more popular NoSQL databases. You can install these packages with NPM, then accelerate the development by letting Microsoft's cmdlets massage the XML in the configuration files.
The integration is still fairly preliminary. While all of the Node packages are available through NPM, you'll have to make some connections by hand to important options like SQL Server. Some people use the REST interface to SQL Server that Microsoft makes available. Although MongoDB is a nice option, Azure offers a number of reporting tools that are integrated directly with SQL Server.