IBM Soups Up RFID-Ready Server
IBM's more sophisticated WebSphere Premises Server offering reflects a shift in attitude toward radio frequency identification technology. Instead of stewing over whether it's even possible to implement RFID at a reasonable cost, companies are now accepting it as a given -- and exploring how they can get the most out of their investments.
IBM is unveiling upgrades to its WebSphere Premises Server at Impact, its SOA (service-oriented architecture) event taking place in Las Vegas this week.
The buffed-up SOA software -- Version 6.1 -- and IBM's RFID Information Center will be the two main product spotlights at the event, Scott Burroughs, director of sensors and actuators, told CRM Buyer.
The cumulative effect of the improvements is that users will find it far easier to gather, analyze and act upon data from radio frequency identification tags and other sensors, he explained.
Where's the Value?
Acting upon data has become the key focus among users now that most firms that have implemented the technology have become familiar with its capabilities, Burroughs said.
"Users are shifting their focus," he said, "from the notion of 'Does the technology work?' to 'How do I exploit this technology to generate business value?'"
Getting new data from these technologies is no longer enough for users if it doesn't solve the business problem. "Companies want to know how they can act on this new visibility that they have into their supply chains," noted Burroughs.
Location Awareness, Multiple Sensors
IBM has added a new location awareness feature to the server and says the technology in this version is better able to combine data from sensors that have multiple purposes.
In particular, the ability to detect relevant events for a business -- say a shipment of perishables that has been placed in a storage unit that is not temperature controlled -- is much easier with this application, Burroughs said, as such process rules no longer require custom coding.
"We used to have to build SOA integration capabilities. Now we have just made it part of the product through a new set of interfaces," he pointed out.
Changes to the server include the following:
- The ability to manage multiple sensor technologies in one application: passive RFID for object identification; active RFID for location information; and other types of sensors for such condition information as temperature, vibration and humidity;
- Real-time location tracking services that support the use of active RFID technologies to monitor for incidents in refineries, plants and office buildings; and
- An event-processing engine that can establish business rules that act upon events the sensors report.
Eleven RFID device manufacturers have been validated on WebSphere Premises Server 6.1: Alien Technology, CAEN, Eurotech, FEIG Electronic, Impinj, Intermec, Motorola, Reva, Sirit, Tagsys and Wavetrend.