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HP Launches RFID Service for IT Assets

Hewlett-Packard announced it will install RFID reader systems at customer sites to track HP servers and other IT gear that ship with pre-installed Gen2 tags. HP previously provided these services on a project basis, but has now formalized them under the HP Factory Express Service banner.
Jun 09, 2008This article was originally published by RFID Update.

June 9, 2008—Hewlett-Packard customers can now order servers, data storage devices, and racks with integrated RFID tags as part of a new IT asset management service, the Silicon Valley company announced today. As part of the new HP Factory Express RFID Service, HP will also install an RFID reader infrastructure and integrate it with the customer's preferred software system. HP's popular OpenView Asset Center IT asset management software already supports RFID input.

The service automatically records equipment when it exits and enters the monitored area, which is typically a data center, and helps IT administrators accurately identify and inventory equipment.

HP has been providing RFID-based IT asset management systems for several years but did not previously offer a formalized product and service offering, HP's worldwide RFID director Frank Lanza told RFID Update.

"We have about 12 RFID data center accounts, and HP OpenView Asset Center has been installed at more than 1,000 locations," said Lanza. "A lot of our customers said to us 'Wouldn't it be nice if we could get things tagged before they got into our data center?'"

HP now offers factory-installed Gen2 passive UHF RFID tags on its ProLiant and Integrity server systems, StorageWorks Enterprise Virtual Array products, StorageWorks Modular Smart Arrays, server enclosures, and rack infrastructure. Two levels of service are available. The standard service encodes a unique Electronic Product Code (EPC) number in the tag. Factory Express Custom Service allows more customized tag placement and data services. There is also memory available on the tags for customers to write their own data.

The service costs between $5 and $10 per tagged asset. It is currently available to customers in the US and Canada, and HP said it plans to extend the offering to Brazil, Singapore, and the UK.

Banks, insurance companies, and investment firms are expected to be among the first users, according to Lanza.

"Those organizations have large data centers, deep geographic coverage around the world, and want to have consistent processes," he said.

Customers are more interested in using the service to keep accurate records of assets and their locations, rather than to prevent theft, Lanza said. "People want to know what's in the data center, what left the data center, and who took it out."

The service currently supports only tag identification, but HP is considering integrating vibration and heat sensors so users can monitor the condition of their IT equipment, Lanza said. The company may also explore the integration of RFID asset management with video surveillance. For example, a reader that detects an asset leaving the data center could direct a video camera to record the event. SimplyRFID introduced an integrated RFID-video surveillance system earlier this year, although it is not specific to IT equipment (see Nox System Uses RFID to Catch a Thief).
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