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Options for Growing Your RFID Network

When it comes to implementing an RFID solution, there are several decisions you should make now to ensure your RFID network will scale as your requirements grow.
By Martyn Mallick
Nov 27, 2006Many initial RFID deployments are limited in scope. Little more than proof-of-concepts, they typically do not get into the highly valuable, yet complex, solutions that are possible using RFID technology. As RFID technologies mature, however, an organization may find that as it becomes more comfortable with and knowledgeable about the technology, it may want to grow its RFID network to provide additional value. Such a company may consider several options: expanding its current application; expanding the size and breadth of its current network to support new applications; or adding new, distinct applications to its existing network. These options are not mutually exclusive, and there is frequently value in implementing two or three options simultaneously. It is helpful to consider these options during the evaluation, development and deployment of the initial applications to help future-proof the solution.

Expanding Current Application
The most common and compelling way to grow an RFID solution is to extend the scope of the current application. After completing a successful RFID pilot program, take the network created for the pilot and increase its functionality. This may be something as trivial as defining additional Application Level Event (ALE) reports, or something more complex such as creating new integration points for enterprise systems, supporting new tag types or increasing the complexity of business logic.

In order to make this transition as seamless as possible, you will need to put some thought into the base RFID infrastructure being used for your project. Many companies’ initial RFID deployments start as homegrown solutions where all the hardware integration, data aggregation and filtering and business logic or report generation are developed from the ground up. While this may look like a feasible approach for a pilot, it can quickly turn into a significant resource commitment as the RFID solution expands—particularly when multiple classes and brands of devices are being used.

Instead of developing your solution for such things as the hardware integration, data aggregation and filtering and business logic, consider using RFID middleware. A product such as Sybase’s RFID Anywhere provides prebuilt connectors into the leading hardware devices; a complete data collection, filtering and reporting engine; a flexible environment for creating custom business logic; and an enterprise-scale management console. Building your applications on top of this type of product will greatly simplify development, while also providing a seamless transition when improving performance or adding new features and functionality to your applications.

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