A "tell-all introduction"? Not as such that I've ever seen.
What you've described takes a lot of shelf space at Borders!
What do you already know? What are you actually trying to accomplish?
The best tutor for this is going to be experience, experience, experience: seeing others do it, observing different companies, etc.
RAID is a simple(ish) topic. As is load-balancing. But depending on the target you have in mind, all those components are going to interface in wildly different ways.
And what about virtualization-vs-standalone?
What platform(s) are you using? Windows, Linux, Unix? Answers may be similar, but will definitely vary er platform.