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A Primer on Types of RFID Middleware
This essential article defines three broadly-understood categories of RFID middleware and the vendors that participate in each category.
Aug 09, 2006—This article was originally published by RFID Update.
August 9, 2006—The traditional and most commonly held view of RFID middleware is software that interfaces directly with RFID devices (readers, printer/encoders), filters and formats read data, and passes it to another software application that uses the input to drive a decision or complete a transaction. Well-known vendors in this category include Acsis, GlobeRanger, IDVelocity (since acquired by NCR), OATSystems, and SkandSoft. These products are often marketed as "frameworks" and may also support bar codes, sensors and other types of input. Traditional RFID middleware also often offers some degree of device management, such as remote monitoring or configuration. Many systems integrators have developed similar offerings that they use in projects but don't market separately or offer through resellers.
Some enterprise integration software and middleware can also process RFID data. The best known is IBM's WebSphere product family, which RFID reader manufacturers including Alien, Intermec and Symbol offer bundled with their hardware. Other vendors best known for their enterprise IT systems who also have RFID middleware include BEA Systems, Sun Microsystems, TIBCO, VeriSign and webMethods.
Middleware appliances have emerged as an alternative to traditional RFID middleware that sits on a server or is installed on the reader itself. Appliances are software-hardware hybrids that filter RFID input, route and synchronize data to various applications, and provide control over readers. They are installed between readers and enterprise systems. Depending on the vendor, appliances may be on the edge of the network or further back. In one case, the appliance is part of the LAN infrastructure itself. The appliance category of RFID middleware is small, but it includes a big name. Here's a closer look at these vendors and their products.
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