Last night, I checked out our server project, which aims to make Gentoo more suitable for the enterprise. The page links to an intriguing paper on infrastructures.org that suggests treating an entire infrastructure of hundreds of machines as a single “virtual machine.”
What does this remind you of? Oh yeah, a cluster! Modern cluster architectures consist of a collection of roles, each role fulfilled by any number of machines. Roles include master node to serve out jobs, compute node, file server, and so forth. In the paper, they envisioned an infrastructure as a collection of computers filling various roles: NFS servers, Web servers, clients, etc. that would be imaged out from a gold server. In both cases, the goal is to avoid ever dealing with configuration changes on individual machines but instead find a way to centrally administer the entire group.
Conclusion? Clusters and infrastructure are merging, and expertise in one grows more and more applicable to the other. Clustering and infrastructure people should collaborate more to develop methods to manage the madness.