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Xterprise Rolls Out IT Asset-Tracking Solution

The system, which combines software and EPC Gen 2 UHF RFID hardware, is designed to serve a rapidly growing demand.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Jul 31, 2008Four or five years ago, RFID technology was more closely aligned with paper towels and bars of soap than it was with server blades and laptops. That's because it was Wal-Mart's mandate that its suppliers begin tagging cases of consumer goods that had pushed the technology into the mainstream news media. But using RFID to keep tabs on high-value IT assets owned by enterprises is emerging as one of the sleeper RFID applications that is now generating considerable interest among end users.

Major IT vendors IBM and Hewlett-Packard (HP) are among the companies that are both selling and employing RFID-based asset-tracking systems (see HP Launches Service That Applies Tags to Items It Ships and IBM Offering IT Asset-Tracking Solution). And the benefits both firms cite include improving asset utilization and helping public companies comply with the Sarbanes Oxley law.

Dean Frew
Now Xterprise, an RFID solutions provider based in Dallas, has announced its contribution to the growing market: the Clarity IT Asset Management (Clarity-ITAM) solution, which is generally available now and which, according to the company, is already being used by a number of undisclosed Fortune 100 companies. The system consists of software developed by Xterprise and RFID tags and interrogators that operate according to the EPC Gen 2 and ISO 18000-6c standards. The software is built on a Microsoft platform using the BizTalk Server 2006 R2 with BizTalk RFID middleware and a Microsoft SQL server.

Until recently, passive RFID tags—which are significantly cheaper and smaller than active tags and, therefore, more attractive for tracking large numbers of IT assets ranging in size from servers to portable hard drives—were too susceptible to RF interference from the metallic construction of IT assets to function in tracking applications. But improvements in tag design have changed that, and most IT asset-tracking solutions rolled out in recent months, including those of both IBM and HP, employ passive tags.

Like IBM, Xterprise is using special metal-mount tags made by Omni-ID, but Xterprise CEO Dean Frew says he is studying the performance of other tag products as well and does not plan to limit the Clarity-ITAM offering to single RFID hardware vendors. Currently, the company is deploying fixed-position readers made by Alien Technology and mobile readers manufactured by Motorola. Xterprise can work with customers who have their own RFID hardware preferences for their IT asset-tracking projects, as long as that hardware can support Microsoft's BizTalk platform—which, he adds, most major RFID manufacturers already support.

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