BEA works on data unification technology

BEA Systems has confirmed its development of a technology that would allow users to search for files no matter what format they...

BEA Systems has confirmed its development of a technology that would allow users to search for files no matter what format they are saved in and no matter where they are stored in a network, according to BEA spokesman Patrick O'Rourke.

Codenamed Liquid Data, the technology aims to provide corporate users with better access to information tucked away in customer relationship management systems, e-mail databases and other computing systems.

At present, users must often do multiple searches to retrieve various types of files such as e-mails, Excel spreadsheets and video files. This is the problem BEA hopes to solve with the technology it is developing, O'Rourke said.

Microsoft has announced its own plans to create a common way of searching for data stored in disparate parts of a network, based on technology to be included in a future version of its SQL Server database known as "Yukon". Microsoft calls its concept Unified Data.

Oracle has long touted its Internet File System technology, which allows users to store both structured and unstructured data in a database and search that information relatively easily. IBM meanwhile, has also developed technology for its DB2 database software for unifying data retrieval, using what it calls a federated approach.

BEA is expected to tackle the problem in a different way. Liquid Data is expected to be a middleware technology that sits in front of databases and file systems making it possible for users to search for data in various locations, including databases from Microsoft, Oracle and IBM.

BEA said it has yet to determine how it will position Liquid Data in its product line or when the technology will be released. It may be offered as part of an existing product or as a stand-alone offering.

The technology could allow a user to search for information about a customer or business partner, for example. In a call centre, an employee could enter a customer's name into the search bar at a portal site and retrieve all the relevant files and data available about that customer.

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