Oracle has released a new version of its Internet File System, a key component of its database for storing and manipulating nonrelational data such as documents, spreadsheets, and images. The new software is designed to improve security capabilities and also provides enhanced XML features and extensions to its development environment.
Oracle first released IFS in May, more than 18 months after CEO Larry Ellison announced it in late 1998. Oracle says IFS' complexity and the difficulty that company had in building interfaces to Microsoft's Windows delayed the software's original deployment. Some observers see IFS as Oracle's attempt to weaken Window's market position because iFS provides a means of storing nonrelational data in the Oracle database instead of Windows' file system.
"It sounds like a natural extension for most Oracle shops," Forrester Research analyst Josh Walker says of the new release. "It's not earth-shattering, but it certainly does make their existing clients happy." He says the new IFS release extends the features of the Oracle database, making it more competitive against database products from rivals IBM and Microsoft. A number of software companies, including Artesia Technologies Inc. and Arbortext Inc., have developed content-management applications on top of IFS.
The new IFS includes a multilevel security model for controlling access to stored material. Oracle says Symantec Corp. will integrate its upcoming CarrierScan Server 2.0 antivirus software into IFS. The new release also provides improved XML features, and supports Web-distributed author and version standards that let developers collaboratively edit and manage files across the Internet. IFS is compatible with the Oracle8i release 3 database for Solaris, Windows NT, and Linux systems. The new software is bundled with the Oracle database and is available for free download at http://otn.oracle.com.