What do huge vendors see in these tiny sensors? Virtually all of them plan to hang RFID and other sensor technology around their own products and/or consulting services. Oracle is pitching both its software and services underpinnings. "From a competitive standpoint, Oracle is pretty unique on the data-management side. In addition to capturing the data, customers need to make sure they have all the pieces for optimizing it," according to Oracles Fryhoff. On its Sensor Services Web site, Oracle touts products that include the Oracle Database; Application Server; Enterprise Manager; E-Business Suite; Collaboration Suite; Data Hub; and development tools. The Oracle Application Server 10g includes a Sensor Edge Server, she said.IBMs overarching S&A umbrella, on the other hand, encompasses hardwareincluding its own mobile "pervasive computing devices"together with software and services. According to Michaelson, IBM has identified the following opportunity areas in sensor networks, for itself and other vendors: enterprise and business applications; BPI (business process integration); "premise-based solutions" specific to customer locations; "edge of network servers," which tend to handle sensor management and communications; antennae and reader hardware; and PLCs (programmable logic chips). Like IBM, HP and Sun are selling their own hardware and software, as well as services. Like Oracle, ERP (enterprise resource planning) vendor SAP is sticking with software and services. The companies vary in terms of how they partner as well as how long theyve been working with RFID and other sensors. Is supply chain player i2 Technologies springing back against ERP giants? Click here to find out. But if the budding battle over the sensor market ever evolves into a widespread war, it might not be limited to large vendors only. "Just because youre a multibillion-dollar company, that doesnt necessarily mean youre better at RFID. OatSystems, Connectera and TagsWare, for example, all have systems with highly sophisticated capabilities that bigger vendors generally lack," Gartners Woods said. Bidirectional sensing is among OatSystems claims to fame. ABIs Michaelson said he foresees opportunities for smaller sensor technology specialists to outcorner the big guys with peer-to-peer networks specifically geared to sensor-based applications. But the larger systems vendors arent about to take any new competition lying down, either. "If [the sensor technology specialists] try to do that, we will be ready," Suns Sirathay said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news and analysis of enterprise supply chains.
"Were also leveraging our partner network," Fryhoff said. Partners listed on the site include Intel; RFID systems maker Intermec; RFID tag manufacturer Alien Technology; Tata Consulting Services; and several RFID and bar-code label printing specialists.