Oracle's Internet File System

Rohit Khare (
Wed, 14 Apr 1999 00:08:59 -0700

[Just a dump of my explorations. I got a flier in the mail for some=20
devcon and scavenged some links ('s search engine sucks.=20
You figure they'd at least recognize their own product names!).=20
Bottom line: a proto-*TP server that vends files/MIME-blobs by http,=20
ftp, smb, and pop/imap... i would be a *perfect* DAV server... wonder=20
if they need a 4K Associate to fly up there and knock some sense into=20
them :-)... summaries follow --RK]

Oracle's Internet File System: A Technical Preview

Oracle's Internet File System (iFS) is a file system that is=20
seamlessly integrated with the Oracle8i database providing a single=20
facility to store and manage all information - files, voice mails,=20
e-mail messages, multimedia information, database data, and any XML=20
information. IFS eliminates "islands of information" in your=20
organization and radically simplifies how you develop Internet=20
applications. iFS provides integrated facilities to store all types=20
of Internet information, to search them efficiently, to version and=20
manage them, and to access them from a variety of clients including=20
Internet browsers, e-mail clients, and Windows clients. This session=20
provides a technical overview of iFS describing its architecture and=20
illustrating how you can use iFS to integrate all Internet content=20
and to develop Internet applications. It will also discuss iFS'=20
benefits to application developers, to system administrators and to=20
end users. (WS3/Day 1: 6:15-7:45 pm)

Oracle iFS
Oracle iFS - Database Powerful, File System Easy.
Oracle iFS (Internet File System) combines the power, reliability,=20
and security of a database with the ease of use of traditional file=20
systems. A true breakthrough in managing files and content in=20
distributed environments, Oracle iFS allows any file in any format to=20
be dragged and dropped into iFS and integrated into the database.

Oracle iFS for users means easy file management and access.
Oracle iFS lets users store Web pages, documents, spreadsheets, word=20
processing files, images, and other traditional files directly within=20
the database. Authorized users can then search and view these files=20
from any computer through a standard Web browser. Whether they access=20
Oracle iFS contents through Windows Explorer, a Web browser, an FTP=20
client, or an e-mail application, the files appear the same.=20
Relational data can appear and be manipulated just like files. And so=20
can hybrid documents that combine relational and non-relational data.

Oracle iFS for developers means create once, use anywhere.
As a universal access point of information, Oracle iFS brings=20
management, scalability, performance, and integration to information=20
that was previously held in proprietary data stores or loosely=20
managed file systems. For the first time, developers have the benefit=20
of a single data store containing the data from many different=20
applications, making application development and software interfacing=20
much easier.

Oracle iFS for administrators means single-system management
=46or system administrators, Oracle iFS is the same as any network=20
drive for saving files, except it has all the reliability of a=20
database. With a single system for file storage and messaging,=20
administrators only have to maintain, administer, backup, restore,=20
and upgrade a single system.

Oracle iFS Option combines the power of Oracle8i with the ease of use=20
of a file system. Running
inside Oracle8i iFS is a Java application that runs against Oracle=20
Java. The Oracle iFS
leverages other Oracle8i features such as objects, ConText , and=20
Oracle Enterprise Manager.
This tight integration with Oracle8i provides the scalability,=20
performance, security, and portability
of the server itself.

=46rom the end user's standpoint, however, iFS appears as if it were=20
just another volume on the
network. Whether the user accesses the contents of the iFS through=20
Windows Explorer, a Web
browser, an FTP client, or an e-mail client, the files appear the=20
same. Relational data can appear
as files; so too can hybrid documents that combine relational and=20
non-relational data.

Oracle iFS can be accessed using several different protocols:

=85 SMB - Use this protocol to access the iFS through Microsoft Windows=20
95, Windows NT, and
Windows 98 clients. Users can drag files into and out of the iFS, or=20
edit them directly within the
=85 HTTP - Use this protocol to access the iFS with Web browsers and=20
network computers.
=85 FTP - Use this protocol to see contents of the iFS with=20
command-line and FTP clients. The
contents of the iFS are displayed as standard FTP directories and use=20
GET and PUT commands
to move files.
=85 SMTP, IMAP4, POP3 - Use these popular e-mail protocols to access=20
the iFS through clients like
Eudora, Microsoft Outlook, and others.

To make the iFS appear as a mounted network drive, the iFS organizes=20
its contents into folders.
When viewing the iFS from any type of client, these folders appear=20
the way any folder or
directory should. For example, from Windows clients, the iFS appears=20
as a collection of folders
and subfolders within the iFS volume. From e-mail clients, the iFS=20
appears as a set of e-mail
folders through which the user can easily browse, create, rename, and=20
delete folders.\

The iFS can run an e-mail server as a daemon within Oracle8i. This=20
feature bases the e-mail
server on a high-performance and scalable platform, and lets users=20
forward and reply to files as if
they were e-mails.
Also of interest to application developers, is the ability to=20
automatically generate e-mail whenever
particular events occur. For example, applications can be created=20
that send an e-mail to a project
leader whenever a team member updates the product schedule.

The iFS organizes its contents into several different classes, which=20
can be subclassed as needed.
=46or example, spreadsheets containing confidential information can be=20
handled differently than
spreadsheets containing phone numbers and to-do lists by simply=20
creating a separate document
subclass for financial spreadsheets. When writing applications=20
against the database file system,
identify the document subclass for financial spreadsheets and handle=20
them differently than other

Because the iFS runs within Oracle8i, it provides the same=20
sophisticated search capabilities
possible within a relational database. From both Windows and Web=20
clients, end users can search
both the attributes and the contents of documents. Developers can=20
also leverage these features
when building report writers and other applications.

To enable advanced searches, the iFS automatically generates metadata=20
about documents inserted
or updated. Some of the metadata mirrors the "external"=20
characteristics of the document: the date
created, the date last saved, and the file format, among others.=20
Other metadata comes from the
internal contents of the document, such as titles and keywords found=20
within a Microsoft Word

=46or many documents, the iFS uses the ConText option within the Oracle=20
database to parse the
document, discover underlying themes, and generate keywords. The iFS=20
simultaneously adds
index entries for external attributes of the document as needed. The=20
iFS then stores the keywords
in a master index to facilitate searches. In the case of XML=20
documents, the iFS reads attributes
coded into the structure of the XML document itself as potential index entri=

When placing a document in the iFS , the system can decompose (or=20
parse) the document
automatically. When someone needs to view the document, the iFS can=20
recompose (or render)
the document in whatever fashion the application developer directs.=20
Parsing and rendering helps
create custom views of the same document, showing different ranges of=20
information, or perhaps
the same information in different file formats.

Security and privileges are based on an access control list (ACL)=20
model. The administrator
assigns privileges such as update, delete, and other operations=20
within specific folders. While
users originally inherit privileges from the groups to which they=20
belong, administrators can
override these settings by assigning a new ACL to an individual user.

Basic file CICO features are implemented in the iFS , locking=20
documents that have been checked
out until they are explicitly checked it back in (or an administrator=20
releases the lock).

When copying a file from the iFS to a client, or when editing it=20
directly within the iFS , a new
version of that file can be created. An administrator can also=20
identify one particular version as the
"official" version, making all others hidden from most users.

When inserting, updating, or deleting a file, the iFS can generate an=20
e-mail notifying one or more
other users of the change.

The iFS can be configured to purge files from a folder after some=20
time has passed.