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Vizualiiz's LightsOn Solution Uses RFID to Locate Servers

Several data centers are employing the system to view a 3-D map of their facilities, including every rack, shelf and server, and to manage the maintenance of IT equipment.
By Claire Swedberg
Feb 24, 2012Several U.S. businesses are deploying an RFID solution that provides visibility into the identity and location of every piece of equipment stored within their data center. Developed by Vizualiiz, the software—known as LightsOn—utilizes passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Gen 2 RFID tags to track the locations of servers within a data center, in order to identify not only which servers are onsite, but also their exact positions in a specific rack and in a particular part of the room.

Vizualiiz is a startup launched by the husband and wife team of Kathy Cartwright, the company's CEO, and Bob Cartwright, its president. Prior to launching Vizualiiz, the couple cofounded Dimension Systems, a value-added IT reseller. Craig Kelly, Vizualiiz's CTO, previously worked for Amazon.com, in various roles involving technology operation management.

Vizualiiz's LightsOn software depicts a data center and its server racks in 3-D.

Click here to view a larger version of this image.

Bob Cartwright has met with data-center managers who, he says, would estimate the number of servers on their premises and could be off by hundreds or thousands of units. To improve visibility into their inventory, many data centers employ an outside company, such as Dimension Systems, to periodically visit their facilities to count and identify the servers, either by visually reading serial numbers or by scanning bar codes. That process could take days, weeks or even months, he says.

"Customers would say, 'We want to renew out maintenance contract, but could you come in and audit the data center first?'" Cartwright says. The company would then dispatch personnel to perform the work, who would discover that items were missing—which was information that the data center might not trust. "I felt, at the time, there weren't tools available for us to be able to provide the solution they needed."

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