Oracle has taken another step in its mission to push anything and everything onto the Internet by announcing the release of its iFS (Internet File System) for the Oracle8i database.
Oracle Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Larry Ellison officially launched the product at iDevelop 2000, the first of a series of conferences the database giant will hold around the world in the coming months. The file system will be offered free as part of the standard features of Oracle8i, and a Web version of iFS allowing storage of a limited amount of files on Oracle's servers will also be offered.
Ellison claimed that a high volume of information is currently stored in the Microsoft Windows file system or on network file servers. The point of iFS, he said, is to put files where he believes they belong: in the database.
"Today, most information is not stored in the database," Ellison said. "A database is incredibly feature rich, so how come so many people use (the Windows file system)? Because it is easy and it's familiar."
IFS is designed to store structured and unstructured files in a manner that is searchable, includes versioning, and provides more security, Ellison added. Its core strength, he said, is that it leverages users' familiarity with the Windows file system.
"We've created the same user interface as Microsoft's file system; it's identical," Ellison claimed. "But, you pick up tons and tons of features."
It was creating that interface that caused the release of iFS to be delayed by a few months, according to officials, and it is still only available on Sun Solaris and Windows NT.
The new Oracle8i feature is designed to strengthen the company's push to have business-critical applications move away from the operating system and onto the Internet.
"We have sorted out the data from the operating system and what we're doing is saying that the user interface should be independent from the operating system," Ellison said. "The user interface should be part of the browser, as should the file system and all information in the database."
Scott Bowen, president and chief operations officer of Artesia Technologies, in Rockville, Maryland., said that his digital asset management company is banking on Oracle to be correct in that assessment.
"Our customers are betting their businesses on our platforms and in turn we're betting on Oracle," Bowen said. "As pipes get faster and these new devices get more proliferated, content is going to get richer. CIOs are saying, 'We need to do this for our own sake to manage and protect our assets.'"Doug Olkein, Collaboration Technologist with defense contractor General Dynamics, Virginia, said that iFS answered a huge dilemma for his company by providing a way to collaborate on the database in a secure manner.
"Our problem was scalability and we couldn't rely on the Windows file system," Olkein said. "We were going down the path of creating our own solution to implement a process of storing files on the Internet when we came across the beta of iFS."
IFS is now available for Oracle8i customers to download at the company's Web site.