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Oracle to offer Net file system for broader content

The database giant plans to ship a long-delayed Web technology that allows businesses to manage a wider mix of information, including Web pages, email and video content.

Oracle will soon ship a long-delayed Web technology that allows businesses that use the company's flagship database software to manage a wider mix of information, including Web pages, email and video.

The database software market leader on Monday will release Internet File System, a technology that stores and manages 150 types of content, including audio, video and Microsoft Word and Excel documents, Oracle claims.

The software, delayed since September, is a key component in Oracle's new Internet-focused 8i database software. Company executives have touted Internet File System as a product that could render the Windows operating system unnecessary. The database, used for storing and managing information, is packed with features the company says are the only technology businesses need to run programs accessible via the Net.

International Data Corp. analyst Carl Olofson said having a file system built into a database rather than into an operating system offers some advantages, including better protection of files in case of computer crashes, because databases provide a means to back up information. The database file system also offers better and faster searching capabilities than standard operating systems, as well as the ability to find the content with any device that has a Web browser.

"You can be traveling and if you forgot a file, you can open up any browser and connect to the system," Olofson said. "It generates these Web pages that allow you to browse through the file system."

One potential problem, said Olofson, is that having a file system in the database could require businesses to spend more money in having to add more processors on their high-end servers to power the databases.

Olofson said he believes Oracle is one of the first database makers to offer a file system for databases. IBM's database allows computer users to query a database to search content in a file system, but the file system is not physically located inside IBM's database, he said.

Jeremy Burton, vice president of Internet platform marketing at Oracle, said the product is about seven months late because it took longer for the company to develop the technology.

The Internet File System will ship in May but will be available on Monday to Oracle software developers through Oracle's developers' Web site. The product supports the Java programming language and Extensible Markup Language (XML), a Web standard for exchanging data.

Oracle ranks first in database sales in front of IBM, Informix, Microsoft and Sybase, according to an IDC study.