We’ve been hearing about tracking IT assets with RFID since the rumblings of Sarbanes Oxley and the ‘pains’ associated with its compliance. There’s a variety of flavors of RFID solutions targeted at this application; however, only a few have gained traction.
Why? Similar to many emerging applications for RFID, most vendors jumped into the market without a deep understanding of the requirements, preferences and processes. They were essentially pushing a solution instead of developing one.
The point here is that, as with most RFID applications, there are additional layers of complexity that need to be addressed. And although this market could be an early adopter of OTS (Off-The-Shelf) packaged solutions, there is more to it than just tagging and reading.
Market intelligence from all RFID communities – Supplier, Channel and End User – indicates that an RFID solution for IT asset tracking solutions should:
- Be more cost effective and efficient than existing alternative solutions
- Provide business intelligence on the tagged asset – on demand
- Provide unique asset identification and location within a rack within a room within a facility, and in some cases, tracking their movement
- Function in environments with high metal and RFI
- Be compatible/integrated with systems and solutions
- Enable simple scale and solution expansion
- Be able to store additional data pertaining to the asset, its location and environment, service record, movement …
- Be easy and low-cost to manage and maintain
I’d like to draw your attention to a few companies we feel are moving in the right direction and seem to have a deeper understanding of the solution requirements:
- RFID Global Solutions (www.RFIDGLOBALCORP.com): Partnered with Imation to provide complete data center solutions, including but not limited to receiving and commissioning, tracking movement (i.e.: data tape moving between storage facilities), inventory and auditing, and decommissioning or disposal
- RF Code (www.RFCODE.com): Introduced a rack-based solution – for open or closed racks – that leverages active RFID and IR to provide rack-level visibility with high precision and reliability … and it doesn’t take up a U (most rack-based solutions require at least 1U)
Please do not misread our tone or tenor: We believe that this application could be as close to low hanging fruit for RFID as exists in the market.
A number of factors point to it: solutions continue to be developed and refined, performance is increasing while cost is decreasing, and even source-tagging (i.e.: Dell and HP) is gaining traction.
But, work remains to close the gap between current OTS solutions and market requirements.