While much of the focus on what has come to be called cloud computing has been on vast server farms and the technical underpinnings of trying to search all the world's web content, the database that underlies the cloud has received a lot less attention.
Big Table is an ongoing research project to create a structured database that will operate in a distributed environment. This is no easy project as databases have traditionally been most efficient and most secure when running on some big box safely tucked away in some remote data center.
When you realize that it is Google's bigtable (they use it as one word) that handles web indexing as well as Google Earth and Google Finance, you know this is a project that the likes of Oracle, IBM and Microsoft are watching closely. Like I said, big news.