This morning I received word that Internap, my former employer, will probably be open-sourcing the software that I spent most of my time maintaining while I was there. This is a Good Thing.
The Reference System was the software system that we used to manage the configuration of roughly 700 servers spread across the US, plus Tokyo, London, and Amsterdam. It took about 1⁄2 of a staff member to maintain the software on all 700 systems, including upgrades, security fixes, and so on. We could literally clone or reconstruct any server in the company within minutes, plus the time needed to restore data (but not software) from tape.
I’ve had a ridiculous number of former co-workers ask me for a copy of the source to the reference system. Once you get used to it, you don’t want to manage piles of servers without it.