Oracle's Database File System Leverages Security

SAN MATEO (05/21/2000) - Oracle Corp. last week took another step in its mission to push all functionality onto the database by releasing its internet File System (iFS) for the Oracle8i database.

Larry Ellison, chairman and CEO of Oracle, officially launched the product at iDevelop 2000, the first of a series of worldwide conferences the database giant will hold in the coming months. The file system will be free as part of the standard features of Oracle8i on Windows NT and Solaris.

Designed to store structured and unstructured files in a manner that is searchable, iFS includes versioning and provides more security than an operating system, Ellison said. A high volume of information is currently stored in the Windows file system or on network file servers, and the point of iFS is to put files where Oracle believes they belong: in the database.

Oracle officials argued that a file system designed around a database will allow companies better control of their applications and data, also lowering costs.

"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."

Ellison said that iFS' strength is that it leverages users' familiarity with the Windows file system by creating an identical user interface free of the OS.

"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 COO at Artesia Technologies, in Rockville, Maryland, said that his digital asset management company is banking on Oracle to be correct.

"Our customers are betting their businesses on our platforms, and in turn we're betting on Oracle," Bowen said. "CIOs are saying, 'We need to do this for our own sake to manage and protect our assets.' "Oracle officials claimed that iFS puts competitor Microsoft in a catch-22 situation. If iFS is successful and Microsoft adds a similar file system to its SQL Server 2000 database, it will be one step behind Oracle and also be admitting that the desktop file system is obsolete, Oracle officials said.

Microsoft officials disagreed, saying the company has no plans to add the feature, adding that the database will not displace the OS file system.

"We don't see a need to deliver this technology, but if we do we are convinced we can deliver it better than Oracle," said Barry Goff, lead product manager for SQL Server at Microsoft, in Redmond, Washington. "And [the desktop and database versions] will have different functionality; they're not mutually exclusive," he said.

Oracle Corp., in Redwood Shores, California, is at

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