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By Michael Caton  |  Posted 2004-04-19 Print this article Print

PML Schema PML (Physical Markup Language) is the XML schema that more broadly defines the exchange of data within the RFID-enabled supply chain. The PML schema gives applications a broad set of rules by which applications exchange data. The schema abstracts information that may already be defined in other standards, such as UPC.

PML provides a way for applications to gather not only information from readers but also information about the readers themselves, such as reader health. PML determines the vocabulary for the exchange of data between applications, such as a suppliers shipping system and a customers receiving system.

On a broader level, middleware in the RFID supply chain application could perform tasks other than those defined by Savant and PML.

For example, ConnecTerra Inc. provides software that operates largely at the Savant layer while including additional information about RFID readers. GenuOne Inc. provides software that manages rules and event and data persistence and integrates with business applications.

In large part, the enterprise applications that touch the supply chain, such as ERP, warehouse management systems and CRM (customer relationship management) applications, do not integrate directly with RFID systems. Companies considering RFID technology need to determine how best to manage the flow of data from the reader to an application and to the user through middleware.

Middleware that delivers broad application support will help companies easily integrate RFID with existing applications.

Companies need to find middleware applications that can manage data in formats supported by their enterprise applications, such as XML, HTTP and Web Services Intermediaries.

When researching middleware solutions, companies should carefully examine pricing models. Most RFID middleware applications will include an edge server for managing and processing RFID requests to the readers and an API for managing integration with enterprise applications. Products may be initially licensed according to the number of edge servers in place or the number of RFID readers in place.

Companies need to think about how to roll out the technology to ensure that software scales affordably to final implementation.

Figuring out even the basics of RFID technology implementation, such as where to place RFID tags, will require testing and resources that may be out of reach for many small businesses. Sun Microsystems Inc.s Sun RFID Test Center, in Dallas, can help companies determine how to most effectively meet industry requirements and examine the technology for broader benefits.

Click here to read more about Suns RFID vision. Vijay Sarathy, group marketing manager for Suns RFID initiative, said Sun will provide testing services that focus on compliance as well as custom integration with existing enterprise applications.

The cost to use the center, which is due to open next month, hasnt been determined.

Technical Analyst Michael Caton can be reached at

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