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Posted Aug 1, 2003

Excel Document Management with Oracle iFS (Internet File System) - Page 2

By Marin Komadina

Oracle iFS Option

In version 8.1.7 of the database, Oracle has provided a special, extensible file system for managing and accessing content, called the Internet File System. With iFS, companies could use an existing Oracle database as a unified repository for storing different content (including audio, video, e-mail, formatted text). Over time, there were several iFS versions:

  • Oracle iFS Release
  • Oracle iFS Release 1.1.9
  • Oracle iFS Release 9.0.1
  • Oracle iFS Release 9.0.2

The latest 9iFS version supports the Windows File System, Network File System (Unix), Apple File Protocol, HTTP, FTP protocols and document formats like Plain Text, Word, Excel, HTML, PDF. Previously, the iFS were shipped separately. Eventually, the iFS became part of the Oracle 9iAS (Application Server) software under a 'Supplemental CD's' section. In the latest version, Oracle decided to change the name from iFS to the Oracle Content Management SDK, keeping iFS under the 9iAS software product.

The Oracle iFS instance is the name for the complete administrative iFS unit. The iFS instance consists of the several main components such as:

  • iFS Domain - administrative unit for all domain nodes. The iFS Domain consist of iFS Repository, iFS Nodes and iFS Domain Controler.

  • iFS Repository - set of Java classes and tables that manage the data in the 9iFS schema

  • iFS Domain Controller - iFS monitoring and controlling software for domain

  • iFS Node - iFS process running on one physical host

  • iFS Protocols - protocol servers handling the communication process between client and iFS repository (HTTP, SMB, FTP, NFS, AFP, SMTP, IMAP)

  • iFS Services - user session process running on the node (Agents, Parsers, Renderers, Overrides)

    Click for larger image
    The image on the left displays all of the elements of the iFS Instance.

    Once iFS is installed and the iFS elements are up and running, iFS client can start using the shared file system.

    Secure access to the iFS server running on Windows NT/2000 is controlled with the Windows security system. Secure access to the iFS server running on Windows NT/2000 is double-checked. It is first with the Windows security system and then, after a successful logon to the Windows domain or server, the login is checked against the iFS security. If we do not want to handle the double security system, we can simply use a Web Interface, where the user id is checked only once against the iFS security system. Likewise,
    with iFS running on a UNIX server; the user needs only a valid iFS account. 

    Often used praxis from the iFS client side is to map the shared iFS resource as an "O" drive. Main advantage of iFS is that access to iFS over standard FTP, SMB, HTTP, IMAP4, AFP and NFS clients is provided without need to install anything on the client side.

    The latest iFS version includes several new features such as:

    • versioning (in the database we will have several document versions saved, and new changes will create a new database entry rather to replace existing one)
    • check-in/check-out control which allows multiple users to share core documents
    • enhanced searching compatibilities and many others such as e-mail change notification
    • automatic expiration for old files
    • auto compress for documents and format changing on the fly
    • support for symbolic links
    • multilevel security with integrated anti-virus software

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