Aug 18, 2009This article was originally published by RFID Update.
August 18, 2009—Today IBM is introducing its most comprehensive RFID data management software, which applies business intelligence to raw input from a variety of technologies, including passive and active RFID, temperature, pressure and other wireless sensors, sonic-based RTLS and bar code. The new WebSphere Sensor Events software that IBM announced filters input, extracts data and applies business rules to automate processes. It can be implemented in a distributed architecture at the point where data is collected, or centrally to work with multiple networked devices.
IBM has offered a variety of RFID middleware solutions for years. The new release has the most advanced business intelligence capabilities and has features to support the use case and scalability requirements that IBM is seeing with its current customers, Brian Dalgetty, IBM director of sensor solutions development, told RFID Update.
"This is really the culmination of our last five years of RFID development," Dalgetty said. "Previously, we've been more focused on the data capture piece. IBM as a company invests between $4 and $5 billion annually in middleware. Now we're leveraging that core middleware technology with our sensors layer."
IBM's experience in developing middleware for the financial services industry, where billions of transactions are processed every day, was helpful in developing software for emerging high-volume RFID and sensor applications, Dalgetty said.
There are three general layers to WebSphere Sensor Events, according to Dalgetty. The sensors layer accepts input from a variety of data capture technologies, including many types of wireless sensors. The middleware layer monitors the input and extracts the data business systems need to run applications or control processes. The optional Web services layer consists of packaged applications based on the data collection and processing layers. Offerings include applications for asset tracking, parts tracking and fleet management.
Dalgetty said IBM is seeing increased demand for condition monitoring applications that are more sophisticated than typical RFID tracking systems. For example, customers want enhanced fleet management solutions that not only track vehicles, but monitor vehicle performance with wireless sensors.
IBM said there are many potential markets and uses for the software platform, including container tracking, data center asset tracking, food traceability, pharmaceutical pedigrees, production control and more. A fashion house and some of IBM's own data centers are among the organizations that started using the new software prior to today's release, and many others are using different elements of it, according to Dalgetty.
WebSphere Sensor Events was developed to be highly scalable to meet an emerging need in the RFID market. IBM has observed an increase in high-volume production systems and a customer desire to expand them to encompass more operations. Such systems need scalable, enterprise-class software. As an example, he cited Container Centralen, an IBM customer that wants to expand its RFID program to track 3.5 million specialized shipping containers it provides to the horticulture industry (see previous RFID Update coverage here).