So you have a directory structure that contains all of the applications needed to run a set of servers, but no server needs the entire tree. This rsync configuration is the easiest way I can come up with to rsync only what is needed for a single server:

If /export/apps contains bin, lib, var, etc, share and sbin but you only want bin, lib, and one subdirectory of share rsynced, `hostname`-exclude-list.txt then looks like this:

+ /apps/bin/
+ /apps/lib/
+ /apps/share/vim/
- /apps/share/*
- /apps/*

Using this command, you can then sync the directories:

# rsync -avz --delete-excluded \
        --exclude-from=`hostname`-exclude-list.txt \
        /export/apps /local

With the --delete-excluded, if you change the exclude file, newly excluded entries will be removed from the destination. The copy will end up in /local/apps. More usefully, /export/apps could be on a remote server and the destination would be /export.