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Reva Virtualizes RFID Data Processing Appliance

Reva introduced the first virtual machine option for processing RFID data. The new TAP-VM can run virtually on a PC, laptop, server or any other hardware that supports the VMware VMServer 2 environment. It processes data from RFID readers and interface with enterprise systems.
Jun 24, 2009This article was originally published by RFID Update.

June 24, 2009—Reva Systems has taken some of the hardware requirements out of RFID installations by virtualizing its flagship TAP appliance that processes data from RFID tags and other inputs. The new TAP-VM virtual machine that Reva announced today can run on any host virtualized on the VMware's VMware Server 2 platform and performs all the same functions as a physical TAP appliance, but without the hardware.

The software-only version of TAP still requires RFID and an antenna. It eliminates the need for a separate appliance or reader hardware to process the signals from the antenna.

Virtualization enables a single computer (which can be a server, PC or other device) to function as multiple devices and run different applications, including those that require different operating systems. It works by partitioning the host and abstracting resources to deliver only what each virtual machine guest requires to perform its functions. It is one of the fastest growing areas of IT because it enables users to consolidate servers and reduce their hardware requirements. VMware is the industry leader, but Microsoft is aggressively pursuing the market with its Hyper-V platform, and Cisco and the open-source XenSource environment promoted by Citrix are also players.

"This is something a few years ago we wouldn't have imagined. But in the last 12 months we've been hearing of interest in virtualization for RFID from our customers," Reva chairman Ashley Stephenson told RFID Update.

Stephenson thinks a virtual machine option for RFID will initially appeal to organizations with large RFID infrastructures and systems running at multiple locations. Large firms are also more likely to have experience with virtualization, he said.

"We've been starting to hear customers say 'If we're getting rid of discrete servers in our data centers, is there a way we can run our RFID systems on a single blade?'" Stephenson said. "In my experience the larger companies have been making the bolder moves with virtualization, perhaps because they have the most money to save."

The RFID solution provider channel could also benefit by supporting virtualization, according to Stephenson. Using virtualization, solution providers can package the application software, RFID processing capability and host computing resources needed to run them into a single VM that can be delivered over a network or removable storage device. The capability could be used to deliver demos or complete production solutions.

"I think it makes it easier for customers to try RFID. When there is no physical device, downloading a VM becomes attractive," Stephenson said.

The TAP-VM costs the same as the physical version of TAP. Licensing costs are based on the number of RFID readers supported. TAP-VM provides identical functionality as the physical version. Reva also announced upgrades to the TAP platform, including new XML-based integration to readers, enhancements to its features based on ALE and EPCIS standards, and filtering capabilities that help monitor tag movements.
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