When I first heard about Oracle taking a new direction with their old content management product -- meaning the old Content DB, not the newly acquired Stellent stuff -- the first thing I thought was it's about time!
When Oracle claimed it had 2 content management systems, that really confused people... especially considering that Content DB was at best a set of tools to create a content management system, whereas Stellent was a full blown application plus framework. They really weren't like each other at all.
Universal Online Archive (UOA) is Content DB, but now focused on being an archiving platform. On Oracle 11g, it is an extension on the Secure Files feature of the database. If you haven't heard of Secure Files yet, it beats the Linux filesystem on both read and write performance. It also has compression, de-duplication (only storing duplicate files once), and encryption. The encryption is an extension of Oracle Transparent Data Encryption, plus support for encrypting entire tablespaces instead of just individual columns. This means support for foreign keys, as well as indexes beyond the basic b-tree stuff...
Compression reduces the storage needs by 33% on average, according to Oracle. If you then use the statistics from IDC that there are 8 copies for every 1 content item, then de-duplication would bring to total storage down by 87.5%... all while maintaining better-than-filesystem performance, despite the added cost of encryption. See this whitepaper for some tuning statistics and tips.
Secure Files is the next generation of Large Objects for the database... and it's very cool... but what should you run on top of it? For the longest time, the folks at Stellent balked at using the database for file storage. Using the filesystem made much more sense because of performance reasons, which made up for the additional complexity of the architecture. However, if the user has 11g, there really is no better option than storing content items in the database.
NOTE: This rule-of-thumb does not apply for web content -- especially for small images and thumbnails. In those cases, a split approach where public web assets are stored locally would probably be faster. Luckily, a customized FileStoreProvider can help you achieve this.
Also, Oracle Universal Online Archive finally fits in with Oracle's broader strategy for content management. Even though it can store anything, the first release will have connectors to email servers to be a mail archive:
- Microsoft Exchange
- Lotus Notes
- Generic SMTP Server
This fits right in with the Universal Records Management strategy, which is to embed a Records Management Agent in remote repositories, and control their life cycle from the Records Management system.
In other words, your email archiving policy is no longer dictated by IT. Your records managers can say when an item should be archived, and how long it should be retained based on events, instead of simply time and size constraints. For example, emails should be retained 2 years after a project completion, 6 months after employee termination, or 12 months after you lose a specific customer. That will reduce both your email space requirements, and your legal risk.
But it doesn't stop there... the next step is to make connectors to other content management systems, for example, Sharepoint. The idea is to archive content out of systems like Sharepoint, and replace them with a "stub". When a user downloads from Sharepoint, the "stub" is smart enough to redirect the download to the archive, and return it directly.
In other words, you could be using a secure, compressed, de-duplicated, encrypted, archive without ever noticing. Throw in a Records Management Agent, and you'll also invisibly comply with dozens of regulation and laws... no matter where you store your information.
Its a good strategy, and some interesting technology... we'll see how it pans out.
UPDATE: The release was announced, but they don't have a date for when it will be available for download. Here's some more info about the release, and some places to watch for downloads: