IBM Unleashes New RFID Middleware

Out of its recently formed $250 million Sensor & Actuator arm, the company comes to market with three RFID products aimed at retail, warehousing and manufacturing.

In the increasingly competitive RFID arena, IBM on Thursday will release the first three products from its recently formed $250 million S&A (Sensor & Actuator) arm.

The new IBM WebSphere RFID Device Infrastructure and IBM WebSphere RFID Premises Server are specifically geared to RFID. The third new middleware product, IBM WebSphere Remote Server, supports emerging handheld, kiosk and self-checkout devices, either with or without RFID.

"One of IBMs points of differentiation is that were offering an end-to-end solution," Ann Breidenbach, director of strategy for IBMs S&A, said in an interview with

/zimages/6/28571.gifRead more here about IBMs RFID investment.

Other platform giants now vying for leadership positions in RFID include long-time IBM nemesis Sun Microsystems Inc.; Oracle Corp.; Hewlett-Packard Co..; SAP AP and Microsoft Corp.

IBMs new RFID Premises Server and Remote Server middleware products are both based on the same J2EE platform. "We hear most often about RFID in retail, but [these products] can also be used in warehousing and manufacturing, for example," Breidenbach said. IBMs RFID customers include companies in the automotive, electronics and aerospace industries.

As its name suggests, IBMs new Remote Server product is deployed remotely, at individual stores or warehouses, for instance. The RFID Premises Server, on the other hand, can be implemented at either remote locations or a central data center.

IBM is selling the RFID Premises Server and Remote Server to end customers. Metro Group, a huge retailer in Europe, is already using RFID Premises Server, according to Breidenbach. RFID Device Infrastructure, on the other hand, is targeted at IBMs outside OEM partners, for integration with their RFID readers and controllers.

The new RFID Premises Server is designed to collect and filter data from RFID devices, execute business processes and integrate the RFID information with third-party software applications for ERP (enterprise resource planning) and warehouse management, for example.

Next Page: Remote Server aims to integrate newer environments with legacy devices.