That shows a lack of understanding of what kind of hardware is being used in the real world to handle this.
With a half-decent SAN with 15k drives and 4Gbit fibrechannel connections, you can get 1000+ IOPS without the storage system even breaking a sweat. Under load it can easily give 10 times that.
This is something that's everywhere in the business world.
Pair this with a bunch of cores and a few GB of memory, and you can have an RDBMS that chews through impressive amounts of data. Unless, of course, you optimize nothing and swamp it with lame queries that do nothing that table scans. Funny enough, the same people that are fine with doing everything in code are the ones that can't be bothered to think more than one second about what kind of queries they are throwing at the database.
Btw, this was 200MB/sec of random writes. I didn't even bother with random writes. I could have gotten the writes to be basically sequential if I had bothered to write a COMB style UUID generator. I happen to be a fan of UUIDs for the surrogate keys as it makes database merging so much easier.
You will also consume more power, and have 20 servers to manage instead of one, and you have to customize your data to be distributed between those 20 servers, hampering the possibility of querying that data for patterns that enable you to optimize your business.