Oracle To Give Delayed Internet Software To Developers - InformationWeek

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Oracle To Give Delayed Internet Software To Developers

A key component of the Oracle8i database designed for storing and manipulating nonrelational data will be made available by Oracle to developers Monday. The company won't say until mid-May, however, when the delayed Internet File System will be commercially available or what it will cost.

While databases such as Oracle8i are used for storing corporate data, a great deal of valuable information resides in word documents, spreadsheets, images, and E-mail. As such, the data is stored in files within desktop operating systems--primarily Microsoft Windows. With the Java-based IFS, users can store those documents within the Oracle8i database and take advantage of the software's search-and-retrieve, version-control, and security capabilities, the company says.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison first demonstrated IFS in late 1998 when he introduced Oracle8i. At the time, IFS was expected to be available by last summer. But the software has been in beta testing for nine months--far longer than Oracle's average four- to six-month beta period, acknowledges Jeremy Burton, VP of server marketing at Oracle. "The trouble with innovative products is that you have to be sure about the ... performance and the interface," he says. Oracle also had to reverse-engineer programming interfaces to Windows' file system while developing IFS, Burton says.

Hurwitz Group analyst Elise Olding says IFS has the potential to speed the development of new collaborative and knowledge-management applications, because developers can spend less time worrying about the workflow and infrastructure issues that IFS resolves. "It really will allow the sharing of files and information," she says. "I think this is what's going to give us the next big productivity jump."

It's not clear whether IFS will be sold separately or as part of Oracle8i. A free developers' version of IFS will be made available to the 700,000 members of the Oracle Technology Network, Oracle's online service for developers.

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