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Bank of America Deploys RFID in Data Centers

The financial institution is using EPC Gen 2 tags to inventory its computer servers and other IT assets, and to record whenever any are removed from and returned to a data center, so that all equipment can be accounted for.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Oct 30, 2008There's very little in the way of good news coming out of the financial services sector these days. But William Conroy, head of Bank of America's enterprise architecture division, thinks radio frequency identification has the potential to produce some. That's why he is leading the firm's deployment of passive, EPC Gen 2 tags for tracking computer servers and other high-value IT assets in its data centers, as he explained to attendees at the EPC Connection 2008 conference earlier this month.

The company has deployed the technology at 14 of its 38 data centers to date. It is now working closely with the Financial Services Technology Consortium's newly formed RFID special interest group, to develop an industry-wide RFID standard for asset tracking, which Bank of America believes will help spur adoption of the technology (see Banking Group to Set RFID Roadmap).

William Conroy
"We have incredible IT demands...and keeping track of servers is not something that we compete [with other banks] on," Conroy says, "so we'd like to drive the entire industry as a group [toward using RFID for tracking IT asset]." In fact, he adds, any company that operates a data center can benefit from employing RFID to track assets. The major producers of IT assets, such as IBM and Hewlett-Packard (HP), know this as well, of course. That, Conroy says, is why some Bank of America IT asset vendors will begin placing RFID tags on IT assets before shipping them to its data centers, so that the bank can begin utilizing the tags to identify the assets from the moment it receives them, and so that the vendors will be able to improve their own shipping operations. He predicts this might begin in early 2009.

The FSTC special interest group, Conroy says, is close to finalizing documentation that will serve as an RFID roadmap for other financial services firms—or companies in other industries—looking to employ RFID to track IT assets.

"Banking could be a real leader in data centers [adopting RFID]," John Fricke, the FSTC's chief of staff, told attendees at EPC Connection.

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