An Oracle executive said Tuesday that the database software giant will launch later this year a new service--dubbed "Oracle Files Online"--that businesses can use to store their corporate data.
The service will be free for some levels of disk storage space, but Oracle is leaving open the possibility that it will charge for larger levels of storage. The company, which first announced the service last year, is still finalizing the details, said George Demarest, Oracle's director of database marketing.
The new Internet service will become the latest Web offering from Oracle, which has spent the past few years making its software available for rent over the Web. Oracle last month pumped up its online services, available on Oracle.com, with new software for small businesses to manage and automate business activities, such as sales, customer service, manufacturing and financials.
Oracle's Demarest said Oracle Files Online will become the company's next-generation Internet File System, software that stores and manages different types of content, such as audio, video, e-mail and Microsoft Word and Excel documents.
The Internet File System (IFS) is a technology first introduced last year as part of Oracle's 8i database--software that stores and retrieves large amounts of data. Oracle has positioned IFS as a replacement to the Windows File System built into Microsoft's operating system. The IFS technology essentially moves data storage from a PC's hard drive to back-end servers on a network.
Demarest said Oracle's Files Online isn't just an online service for businesses. Service providers and corporations can also buy Oracle's technology to store and manage data for their customers and employees, he said. For example, a service provider could host medical software for a hospital, but also offer an additional service that stores the hospital's files online.
Oracle Files Online, which will be soon be available for customers of Oracle's new 9i database, features a user interface that allows people to easily manage their files, do searches and keep multiple versions of the same files, Oracle executives said.
"Files Online is an easy place for you to stick your files, and once you put them in there, to sort it out and do searching," Demarest said.
Oracle executives also announced new features in the current version of IFS, which has already been released in the Oracle 9i database. New features include a search engine that allows people to search multiple areas at the same time, including Web sites, internal company databases, and servers that handle e-mail and files.
Another new feature is "smart files," which allow people to better categorize their data, Demarest said. For example, a hospital can give new categories for their files, such as "x-rays," so when they do a search on x-rays, all the x-rays files appear. A third new feature, he said, is better support for XML (Extensible Markup Language), a Web standard for data exchange.