The final paragraphs of another thought-provoking Cringely essay:
To scale the Google search service, then, they figured that many large problems did not intrinsically require doing actions one at a time. But Google first had to free itself of the false dependencies. So they coined the term MapReduce and created both a set of operations and a way to store the data for those operations natively, all while preserving the natural independence that is inherent in each problem, building the whole mess atop the remarkable Google File System, which I'll cover some other day.
Google led the way but many other companies have followed suit, opening doors to a wide range of new ways of thinking about large-scale data manipulation. Suddenly there are different ways to store the data, new ways to write applications, and new places (thousands of cheap boxes) to run such applications.
What this does for Larry Ellison and his libido is a great question, because it looks like he's bought up most of the traditional database-centric software industry just in time for it to be declared obsolete.
I fundamentally disagree with the thesis of the full essay, primarily because it implicitly assumes DBMSs can't evolve (e.g., go hybrid traditional/massive memory), but it's still a timely snapshot.