Oracle to Unveil Internet File System Monday

SAN MATEO (04/20/2000) - Oracle Corp. officials yesterday confirmed that the company will release its Internet File System (iFS) for the Oracle 8i database to 700,000 members of its Oracle Technology Network free of charge on Monday, April 24.

Oracle iFS is a file system and development platform that gives developers a wide range of functionality, from the creation of simple file system enhancements to advanced Web applications, Oracle representatives said. It is designed to increase end-user productivity and collaboration through automatic version control, check-in/check-out, and advanced search. It can also be used to create advanced Web applications such as corporate portals, Oracle officials said.

"With the Internet coming on, [a desktop filing system] really is a poor place now to store data," said Jeremy Burton, vice president of Internet platform marketing at Oracle, in Redwood Shores, Calif. "Instead, information should be stored in the database."

To clarify his point, Burton likened iFS to a filing cabinet that is not restricted by the size, shape, or weight of the items going into it. Instead, he added, it is flexible and can adapt to easily store various types of information.

"Filing systems followed the model of a filing cabinet before, and iFS still has a lot of those traits," he said. "The metaphor of the filing system is still great because it's simple."

However, Burton called traditional filing systems inefficient because they are tied to the desktop, linked to the operating system, and do not allow for versioning.

"Operating systems and filing systems have been tied together for so long, and developers relied on a new OS to get a new filing system," Burton said. "With iFS you can actually have a filing system which includes versioning, and you don't have to wait for new releases of an operating system to do that."

Current filing systems also do not allow for different kinds of information to be stored in them, Burton said. iFS allows for the storage of unstructured information, such as word documents, as well as structured information that would typically go into a database, he said.

"iFS appears exactly like a filing system except you can customize it to store any kind of information," Burton said. "The Internet is relating structured and unstructured information together, and we're going in that direction."

Oracle Corp., in Redwood Shores, is at www.oracle.com.

Brad Shewmake is an InfoWorld reporter.

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