Getting Ready for RFID

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2004-04-05 Print this article Print

If the amount of data generated from RFID equals the hype, DBAs should take cover, writes Database Topic Center editor Lisa Vaas. In the meantime, here are some ways to get ready for the data onslaught.

Attention, Wal-Mart shoppers: If the quantity of data that eventually pours out of RFID technology is half as voluminous as the recent spate of vendor announcements and their concurrent hot-air hype, every DBA in the land should take cover. To wit: As Renee Ferguson reported Monday in her story "Taking on RFID Challenge," TIBCO, WebMethods, Oracle and Microsoft all are hammering away at IT infrastructures to soak up the massive amounts of data expected to be generated by RFID deployments. Last month, CeBIT was RFID happyland as announcements proliferated. Sun last week gave a sneak peek at its RFID technology, and Oracle simultaneously unveiled its middleware RFID technology.
Granted, there are still plenty of questions about the potential ROI of RFID. As Larry Dignan wrote in "Baseline," one of eWEEKs sister publications, the tags remain expensive, as they hover above the goal of 5 cents. Not only that, Dignan noted, there simply arent many vendors producing tags that will suit the likes of mandate-setting Wal-Mart, and its unclear whether the ones who are—Intermec, Alien Technology and Matrics—can do so in the quantity needed to get the per-tag cost down to where everybody thinks it should be.
Putting aside both the hype and the questions about ROI, one thing is certain: A good number of DBAs have to get ready to handle an RFID-generated onslaught of data. Estimates put that outflow at anywhere from 10 times to 100 times the data now being generated from similar bar-code applications. Ouch. No wonder Oracle, with its 10g clustering message, is salivating. If I had a technology road map whose future was based on a solution for massive scaling needs, Id be cheerful about those estimates, too. At any rate, here are some things to keep in mind if youre working in an environment where RFID may be looming: Prepare yourself for much, much larger amounts of data. You might think you currently have the right amount of employees, databases, storage and data-warehousing. If your firm is considering RFID, rethink all of those components. Next page: Know and love your BI tools.

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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