Oracle yesterday announced the availability of its Internet File System (iFS) software in an attempt to break the link between file and operating systems that has existed for the past 20 years.
Oracle is positioning iFS, which is a key piece in the company's internet-focused 8i database, as a replacement to the Windows File System built into Microsoft's operating system.
Gary Pugh, database marketing manager at Oracle, said a file system built into a database will offer better and faster search capabilities than standard operating systems, provide improved security from virus attacks and offer protection from computer crashes. The software also features the ability to find content with any device that has a web browser, and works with Windows Explorer and email programs.
Pugh said iFS will enable companies to manage all their corporate content, which is currently scattered across PC desktops, document management systems and websites, in a single repository.
"Companies have a high volume of content, which is no longer just flat data, and may consist of XML documents, multimedia and locational information," he said. "IT managers are feeling the pain of information chaos, so they can't manage files or find content scattered around multiple file systems."
Oracle said the file system has been virtually unchanged for the past 20 years and that iFS, which provides native support for eXtensible Markup Language (XML), is the first file system designed for the internet.
"The main innovation in file systems in the past 20 years has been the ability to have long file names," said Pugh.
iFS supports the storage and management of more than 150 different file types, and provides previously unavailable features to manage large volumes of content.
David Burman, director of research at analyst the Butler Group, said Oracle is guilty of "hyping" the importance of its file system.
"What Oracle is offering is almost identical to Microsoft, albeit it available from a web browser," he said. "Oracle's file system is not compelling but it may be attractive for people who are going down the server-centric route."
Oracle also claimed a first in offering open Java application programming interfaces to the file system, allowing independent software vendors and developers to add, modify or override iFS's default features.
The iFS, which was scheduled to ship last September, was delayed for seven months because it took longer than predicted for Oracle to perfect a user interface for those businesses that prefer the look and feel of Windows.
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