One of the first people to see this coming was relational database academic, Joe Hellerstein at UCB. In his 2001 talk entitled "We Lose" (PDF slides), slide 5 contains the gist of his prescient observations:
- Grassroots use Filesystems, not DBs
- Grassroots use App servers, not ORDBs
- Grassroots write Java, PERL, Python, PHP, ... NOT SQL!
He defines Grassroots as: "Hackers. But also DBMS engineers, Berkeley grads, Physicists, etc."
Now, somewhere in between are Slacker Databases: "Amazon SimpleDB, Apache CouchDB, Google App Engine, and Persevere, offering far greater simplicity than SQL, may have a better way of storing data for Web apps." Hellerstein was more right than he could've known.