IBM today will announce Symbol Technologies Inc will embed IBM’s WebSphere RFID middleware onto a series of RFID readers to automate RFID data routing and enable remote reader management.
For IBM, Symbol becomes the third major US reader maker to embed its WebSphere Device Infrastructure, or WDI, middleware to create so-called intelligent RFID readers. Last August, IBM announced a WebSphere deal with Alien Technology, followed by another announcement in November with Intermec Technologies.
Eric Gabrielson, director of worldwide RFID solutions at IBM said that having three major OEMs commit to using IBM’s middleware on their devices says there’s a capability that we’ve developed with WDI that can provide real value.
One of IBM’s chief rivals in this area, Sun Microsystems Inc, has so far struck a similar deal with its Sun Java System RFID middleware with two reader makers, SIS Technologies, which is among the industry’s leaders, and Comtrol.
But we are also in various stages of discussions/negotiations with more than a few others, and may be in a position to make additional announcements in the coming months, said a Sun spokesperson.
Gabrielson confirmed IBM does not have a deal with Comtrol or SIS, but said IBM middleware is compatible with SIS systems.
Intelligent RFID readers are likely to become more prolific as RFID deployments in the US begin to move from pilot phases to large-scale implementations. Intelligent readers are effectively pushing RFID data collection, filtering and analysis to the edge of the network. This, in turn, promises to reduce network traffic by filtering redundancies and sending only pertinent information to an enterprise’s application server,
Symbol’s XR series of fixed RFID readers that will boast IBM’s stack will be able to integrate and reconcile RFID information collected from tags with data used elsewhere in the enterprise.
Intelligent edge devices also enable remote manage and repair of devices, through the use of firmware upgrades and programs. Additionally, the devices may eliminate the need for a controller, Gabrielson said.
Looking ahead, Gabrielson said IBM hopes to strike partnership deals with more OEMs, but he declined to talk specifics. Our vision is that you want to embed as much intelligence into a device as possible, he said.
Beyond RFID, IBM’s device middleware may also potentially find a home in asset-monitoring, Gabrielson said. It’s something we’ll explore.