I went to the London Turing Lecture given by a very cold-ridden and croaky Donald Knuth; you always know things are going to be interesting when the speaker opens with comments along the lines of 'I got the idea for the format of this lecture from my colleague and friend at Caltech in the 60s; Richard Feynman'. See even the great Donald Knuth can name-drop with the best of them. The format was of a question and answer session where Donald took questions on any subject from the floor and I believe that it will be available to watch as a web-cast; please note that he was very cold-ridden and it's probably not his best 'performance'.
Don for a long time has been talking about Literate Programming and that programs should be written for human beings to read and not just for computers to process; arguing that 'They tend to work more correctly, are easier to change, easier to maintain, and just a pleasure to write and to read'. He is passionate that code can be beautiful and art; funnily enough I feel very similarly about IT infrastructure and I think that is what potentially Cloud can bring to the world of infrastructure.
I'm not sure we can have a 'Literate Infrastructure' but I wonder if we can get to 'Elegant Infrastructure'; I come across infrastructures all the time which make me question the byzantine perversity of infrastructure architects and designers. At times it is like an artist who has decided to throw all the colours in his palette at a canvas with little understanding of aesthetics and form; yes, you can do this but you really have to understand what you are doing and unless you are very good, you will simply produce a mess.
This is why the various block-based infrastructures are potentially so appealing (this is not a discussion as to the merits of vBlock versus Flex-pod versus another-Lego-block) as they restrict the tendencies of techies to throw everything but the kitchen sink at a problem. Yet the most stringent advocate of these infrastructures has to acknowledge that they will not solve every problem and at times, a little subtle complexity is more elegant than adding more and more blocks.
The infrastructures of the future will be simple, understandable but not necessarily devoid of colour and subtlety. Otherwise we'll fall into another trap that Don hates; 'the 90% good enough' trap. Infrastructure needs to be 100% good enough; 90% won't do because 90% will not be easy to manage or understand. I think this is the challenge that the vendors will face as they try to understand what they are selling and creating.