Oracle is claiming that the latest version of its flagship database, launched yesterday, will act as an Internet operating system. Andy Bailey, product marketing manager at Oracle, said that there will be features in Oracle 8i that would normally be handled by the operating system, particularly the new Internet file system (iFS). iFS is written in Java, and will rely on a new Java virtual machine (JVM) built into the database engine. iFS will be similar to a raw partition under Unix, so although it will be visible to the operating system, it will be controlled by the database. "In effect it (the database) acts as a file server," said Bailey. "The advantages are that files can use the sharing, security and version control capabilities of the database. Now we can genuinely say that you can put all your files into the database." Bailey also claimed that having a JVM within the database will be "quite unique" to Oracle. Each user connected to a Java-enabled server normally generates 2-3 Mb of context space in the JVM which has to be stored in memory. Bailey boasted that with Oracle 8i, only 35Kb of memory would be needed for each user connected. Tony Clifford-Winters, senior analyst at Bloor Research, regards this as a clever implementation of Java. "What this means is that each time the database management system (DBMS) makes a call to the operating system, it is actually calling the JVM, which makes it totally portable," he explained. "It means it's no longer going to be tied to Unix or particularly NT - there is no code in the database that uses standard Windows APIs." This agnosticism in terms of the underlying operating system is a key direction for Oracle, according to Bailey. "Too much importance is given to the OS," he explained. "Users shouldn't have to care about the OS. That is definitely one of the reasons we are porting Oracle 8i to Linux." "Oracle is trying to insulate itself from Microsoft," said Clifford-Winters. "If (Windows) NT 5.0 runs into trouble, Oracle won't have to worry."
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