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Appliance Developed to Support Large RFID Deployments

GlobeRanger has created a network appliance-based version of its RFID infrastructure software as an alternative to its legacy, server-based solutions. The new SNAP appliance is intended to enable consistent RFID rollouts to multiple locations, and was developed as a response to end user graduation from pilot to production.
Jun 03, 2008This article was originally published by RFID Update.

June 3, 2008—RFID infrastructure software provider GlobeRanger introduced its first appliance product, which bundles software for RFID network-edge data processing, workflows, and applications into hardware intended to support multi-site installations.

"Traditional products have run at the server level, which was good for application development and small applications, such as for monitoring a single dock door," Baldev Nair, GlobeRanger's vice president of marketing and product development told RFID Update. As organizations have started deploying larger applications we started seeing the need for a smaller, lighter solution that could be deployed easily to provide consistent business logic at multiple locations."

RFID network appliances are software-hardware hybrids that filter RFID input, route, and synchronize data to various applications, provide control over readers, and may host application software. For more background see A Primer on Types of RFID Middleware.

The new Smart Network Appliance Product (SNAP) that Dallas-based GlobeRanger announced yesterday is based on the company's iMotion platform for RFID data management application development, but differs in that it does not run from a central server. SNAP supports multiple network protocols and has six ports to integrate RFID readers, sensors, and other devices. It can support multiple RFID technologies and protocols, including Gen2 and ISO 18000-6 UHF, ISO 15693 HF, RTLS, and active RFID. It also supports various EPCglobal integration standards.

The appliance can be remotely managed and was designed to support multi-site deployments where there will be a limited number of RFID and other input devices at each site, according to Nair. Examples include retail stores and satellite warehouses, including those without full warehouse management or ERP systems.

"We think it is best suited where workflows are fairly standard and there may not be much tech support available at the site," Nair said.

Data processing and workflow software bundled with SNAP was developed in Microsoft's .NET framework and is based on open standards. GlobeRanger also maintains a component library to support application development and integration.

Nair said GlobeRanger developed an appliance-based version of its iMotion software because there is a growing market for RFID solutions designed for high-volume deployments. Several developments support this claim. Last year European retailer METRO Group chose an appliance system architecture when it announced plans to install new RFID systems at 200 stores (see METRO Moves RFID Pilot to Production, Taps Reva), and a medical equipment maker chose an appliance-based system to monitor equipment it installed at different hospitals (see New RFID Medical Cabinets Deployed at 50 Hospitals). Airbus, however, selected a server-based system to support its RFID deployments (see IBM and OAT Land Multi-Million Dollar RFID Contract). Last week Cisco Systems announced a new network appliance that supports RFID, RTLS, and a variety of other wireless technologies (see New System Marries RFID Location Data With Item Info).

"SNAP reflects our view that the market is moving past pilots to widespread deployments," Nair said. "We think the timing for this product is just right."
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