Oracle content strategy hinges on 9i database

Oracle's new content management strategy features a heavy dose of knowledge management and a strong reliance on technology found in its new 9i database.

Oracle Corp. kicks off a campaign today promoting its new content management strategy, which features a heavy dose

of knowledge management and builds on technology released earlier this year with its Oracle9i database.

Highlighting the initiative is Oracle's Files Online, a Web-based application service from the Redwood Shores, Calif.-based company that will be released later this year. It is designed to ease the process of accessing and querying data in an Oracle9i database.

Files Online allows access to a 9i database via a browser-based portal, through which files can be searched and categorized based on metadata created through 9i's Smart Files capability.

With Smart Files, the database not only extracts obvious metadata such as file type, size and creation date, but also enables the creation of additional metadata categories for individual files.

For instance, if a file contains chapters of a book, additional metadata categories can be added to that file so it can be queried and categorized according to information deemed relevant by users that would not otherwise be available to a query, said George Demarest, Oracle's director of database marketing.

"Any time you have a file with book info, you can put in the author, publication date, page numbers, creating this whole new category, and then have administrators or users be able to fill in those values, making the file more self-describing," Demarest said.

Since Files Online depends on migrating a company's relevant files to a 9i database, Oracle is also touting its Ultra Search tool as part of its strategy. Demarest said Ultra Search allows company intranets, e-mail servers and Oracle database servers to be searched simultaneously. Ultra Search, which is also Web-based, can be used in an advanced mode or in a basic, Google-type search mode.

"When you have content in file servers or laptops or desktops, there's little way to effectively collaborate on that content," said Demarest. "By having this hosted service that allows you to search and index this content, and extract this content based on metadata, the content become more valuable."

Demarest said Oracle's offerings could be used to both track internal files and offer content externally over the Web. He said larger companies like ASPs or telecommunications providers could integrate various components into their tools to create a value-added service for customers.

Strategy beyond the services

With this announcement, Oracle's grand content management scheme starts to come together. By offering a 9i database that can store 150 different types of files and has content management capabilities inherent in its infrastructure, the company is now poised to offer Files Online and Ultra Search as higher-level services.

Ideally, Demarest said those services, when combined with the database software, will serve both the content management and knowledge management needs of enterprises and SMBs alike.

"Knowledge management needs to be a lot more simplified and centralized. Not everyone wants to do data mining, or content mining, but having those capabilities more broadly available is the point of our content management strategy," said Demarest.

Demarest said Oracle is not concerned by competing with content management upstarts like Vignette and Interwoven or knowledge management stalwarts such as IBM and its Lotus Development subsidiary.

"If you talk to the leading content management companies out there, their biggest competitors are actually the customers" who are using their own makeshift content management systems, said Demarest. "You have these fairly sophisticated document management or media management applications out there, but because they're specialized or expensive, a lot of customer just manage their own content."

That is why Demarest said Oracle has designed its content management system to be at least 80% ready to use straight out of the box. He said more companies would be willing to commit to an implementation if configuration time and costs were less than average.

Regarding implementation of Files Online and Ultra Search, Demarest said once the 9i database is installed, it typically takes "a couple of days" for the database to automatically create standard metadata for its files and implement basic search capabilities. The time needed to include additional metadata and add greater customizations varies.

Files Online will be available through Oracle.com, folding into its new software-as-a-service strategy being offered through its Web site. Pricing and availability information was not available at press time.

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