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T-Systems, Intel Test RFID to Track Servers at Model Data Center

At their jointly operated DataCenter 2020, the companies have installed passive EPC UHF tags on servers, as well as readers on racks and doorways.
By Rhea Wessel
"The idea is very simple: When an item is placed in the proper position, the tag is deactivated," Kilian explains. The concept, he says, can be implemented in a wide variety of metallic environments in which items have a fixed placement position.

Cavea Identification brought a similar application to market in August 2011, known as an Intelligent IT Server Rack. According to Kilian, the solution can easily be retrofitted onto existing racks and servers. Some hardware components of Cavea's newly launched product are different from those used at DataCenter 2020, he notes. For instance, for future rollouts, the Intelligent IT Server Rack system features Confidex SteelWave Micro tags—on-metal tags typically used for IT assets. Readers for the racks will be manufactured by RF-Embedded or Sirit.

The tagging of servers allows data-center managers to track the hardware throughout its lifecycle, Kilian reports. Other benefits, he says, include a more efficient use of resources—such as facilitating a switch to more efficient hardware when it becomes available, as well as deactivating less efficient hardware—faster and more accurate inventories and automated security routines. The RFID system can also be outfitted with sensors, to monitor humidity, temperature and other variables.

The RFID implementation fits with DataCenter 2020's overall goal, Mair says, since it conserves human energy. He also sees the detailed location information as helpful for planning future data centers in ways that save space and energy.

According to Kilian, Cavea's solution is the only one to offer short-range identification of slots, long-range identification of an object at the door and bulk identification of components. Cavea Identification has developed a special antenna for the rack, he says, as well as a metal casing that surrounds an RFID inlay and functions as a tag antenna.

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