In the era of cloud computing, map/reduce, dynamic languages and the semantic web, the stalwart Relational Database Management System is looking a bit fusty. But RDBMSes were perhaps the earliest widely-deployed example of many of the techniques of distributed computing, concurrent programming, and query optimization that are still highly relevant.
Hellerstein, Stonebraker and Hamilton have published a monograph on Architecture of a Database System. With names like that involved you'd expect high quality and some deep insight, and the article delivers. It's a good, accesible summary of the state-of-the-art in RDBMS technology.