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PC Guardian Debuts RFID Suite for IT Asset Tracking

The six applications are designed to help companies track, monitor, manage and secure their servers and other IT equipment and parts.
By Beth Bacheldor
Dec 31, 2008PC Guardian, a long-time provider of computer and data security products, including physical anti-theft solutions, is introducing in January a new RFID-enabled suite designed to help companies track, monitor, manage and secure their servers and other IT assets around the clock, from cradle to grave.

Called IT Professional Asset Manager, or IT Pro Asset, the suite is built on Fluensee's RFID-based asset-tracking software, which can leverage active and passive RFID, ultra-wideband (UWB) technology, Wi-Fi-based systems, GPS and sensor technologies. The two companies announced a partnership in early December; PC Guardian is licensing Fluensee's software and is using that software as the platform for IT Pro Asset.

Noah Groth
Noah Groth, PC Guardian's chairman of the board says RFID—and specifically Fluensee's software—is providing the company with the tools needed to broaden PC Guardian's offerings. "We think RFID is another great area to expand our business," says Groth. "We see ourselves as a systems integrator with respect to RFID, and we are putting together what we think are the best products and then we'll help customers put the solution together."

A number of developments have forged opportunity for RFID's use in the IT center, says Groth. In particular, technical developments have made it possible for companies to leverage more cost-effective, industry-standard EPC Gen 2 passive UHF tags rather than the more expensive active RFID tags. Until recently, companies were limited to active RFID tags because passive UHF versions did not perform well on IT assets containing metal, which can interfere with RF waves. But a growing number of metal-mount tags, specifically designed to mitigate metal's interference, have come on the market and are offering companies new options. Recently, RFID systems integrator ODIN Technologies conducted a study that showed that passive EPC Gen 2 RFID tags and interrogators can be effective for tracking IT assets (see ODIN Report Reveals EPC RFID's Effectiveness for Tracking IT Assets). Groth says PC Guardian purchased the study to compare ODIN's results with results from some studies PC Guardian had conducted independently. "Our results were surprisingly similar," he says. "This is an evolution in the RFID space. The tags weren't working [for IT asset tracking] before, and now they are."

With PC Guardian's IT Pro Asset, companies can use active tags—which might be needed if companies want to do real-time location tracking for security purposes—but Groth says passive tags work well for monitoring and inventory counts. "What RFID really does is enable you to get a handle on the your IT inventory as well as the physical location of where all of those IT assets are. And you can even do that 24-7." The costs of passive EPC Gen 2 tags have also come down, making the technology more palatable for IT departments. But Groth is quick to point out that because RFID is going to replace manual procedures of tracking assets using bar codes, and more often, physical counts, that are time-consuming and involve costly labor, RFID's return-on-investment should be easily achieved. "There are things RFID does that can't be done with other systems. RFID is a no-brainer when the cost for RFID is low enough. Cost may have been a problem in the past, but we see that changing today."

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