REDWOORD SHORES, Calif.—Not content to control half of the relational database market, Oracle on June 14 introduced two enterprise content management products aimed at enabling corporations to move more text documents and other unstructured data into computerized repositories.
Oracle Content Database and Oracle Records Database, both new options for the Oracle Database 10g Enterprise Edition, are designed to allow enterprises to store, search and retrieve many different types of document files, including Microsoft Office, text files, graphics and document images, company officials said.
Oracle President Charles Phillips described the products as content management “for the masses” that can be used by enterprise workers in many roles rather than by highly trained knowledge workers with specialized skills.
The products are a further development of the enterprise content management platform, previously code-named “Tsunami,” that Oracle has been talking about for more than 18 months.
Oracle became rich and successful selling relational database technology for managing large amounts of “structured” data, mostly terabytes of numbers organized in the rows, columns and tables of a relational database. But Phillips noted that about 80 percent of existing corporate data is “unstructured”; it is in the form of text, document files and images that are in many different formats and sometimes in a number of different document management and content management systems.
Of this huge mass of unstructured data, 90 percent of it isnt being managed in any kind of computerized database, he noted.
Corporate CIOs are paying closer attention to this unmanaged mass of data now, he said, because the federal Sarbanes-Oxley regulations say that businesses have to retain and preserve records for finite periods of time in forms that allow them to be searched for and recovered when needed.
In the past, it has been far too difficult to use document management and content management systems to create large repositories of unstructured data because they used a wide range of proprietary user and document access interfaces, he said.
An enterprise that even considered setting up some kind of comprehensive document management system over the past 15 years might have had to deal with “six or eight” different companies to solve the problem, Phillips said.
Now he contends that Oracle has solved that problem because the Content and Records database products use standard Windows and Web interfaces to let users capture, store and search for documents.
The packages also use SOA (service-oriented architecture) and Web services to allow large corporations to access documents and records wherever they may be stored in the organization, noted Andrew Mendelsohn, Oracles senior vice president of service technologies.
Order out of Chaos
With the Oracle systems in place, enterprises will be able to make more efficient use of their unstructured data and documents. For example, insurance companies could use it to store and access policy applications or claim forms electronically rather than having to sort through mounds of paper documents, Mendelsohn said.
The technology has the potential to reduce the costs involved in managing these documents, making content management more efficient, he said.
Banks would have a new means for scanning, storing and retrieving canceled check images when they are needed by account holders. Mendelsohn and Rich Buchheim, Oracle senior director of product management for content products and strategy, demonstrated how the Content and Records database applications could be integrated with standard financial and accounting control systems.
They used the simulated example of a fictitious medical clinic that discovered that its new laser surgery tool had serious control problems. The clinic produced a report that it sent to the manufacturer describing the problem. However, in the records database the report could also be linked to the accounting system to alert the accounts payable clerk not to pay for the equipment until the issue had been resolved.
Oracle officials said they arent introducing the Content and Records databases to chase competing document and content management software makers, such as EMC/Documentum, Interwoven and Vignette, out of the market. Instead, some of these companies may choose to build their products on top of Oracle Content and Oracle Records.
In fact, a major part of Oracles June 14 presentation was an announcement that one of those major content management players, Open Text, said it will offer its applications on the Content Database. Open Text plans to run its “content-enabled” industry applications, such as its accounts payable and loan origination system, on the Oracle Content Database.
Open Text will also extend Oracle content management products with technology for document imaging, IDARS (Integrated Document Archive and Retrieval Systems) technology for high-volume invoicing, ordering or claims processing, records management, archiving, and search.
The Open Text partnership with Oracle will provide the data integration capabilities that will allow users to manage content from existing Oracle, Siebel, PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards applications that are now all owned and supported by Oracle. The technology will also work with Oracles future Fusion products, which will integrate features and components of all these products.