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RFID Software Ramps Up

With users pondering their Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) strategies, large and small vendors made moves this week to gain a foothold in the market. (See More Users Signal RFID Intentions, RFID Reality Check, Oracle Enhances RFID, and PanGo Integrates RFID.)

On the small side, startup InSync Software, which pulls data from RFID readers and links it with back-end Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and e-business systems, picked up $7.5 million in Series A funding.

The round, which was led by Rustic Canyon and Intel Capital, will be used to boost the startup's profile and target new areas. "Currently, we're focused primarily on North America and we will be looking at expanding our operations to new markets," says Leif Chastaine, InSync's director of marketing.

Chastaine won't disclose how many customers the startup has racked up since it was founded in 2003. He does mention that InSync's software is used to track manufacturing equipment when it is sent from a production site to a repair shop.

RFID works by using tags on a specific product or package, which emit radio signals. Reader devices pick up the signals, so the tagged can be tracked. Unlike barcode technology, RFID does not require direct contact, or what is known as "line-of-sight" scanning.

Middleware giants IBM and BEA were also beating the RFID drum this week. IBM, which has built RFID capabilities into its WebSphere technology, unveiled partnerships with reader specialist Alien Technology Corp. , controller vendor Arcom Control Systems , and data management software vendor OATSystems Inc. . (See IBM, Alien Team Up, and OATSystems, IBM, Arcom Team.)

BEA teamed up with data analysis software vendor T3Ci to try to exploit the RFID mandates that have been announced in the retail and Government sectors. (See BEA Teams With T3Ci.)

Some big-name firms, most notably retailer Wal-Mart, already insists that its suppliers deploy RFID. Other organizations, such as the Department of Defense, are also increasing the pressure on their IT partners to deploy RFID.

That leaves IT staff at smaller organizations wondering how they'll cope with their RFID data. A lot of attention has been focused on the expanding storage requirements, but there's more to it than that. Chetan Patwardhan, partner at Stratogent, a San Mateo, Calif.-based IT services firm, told Byte and Switch that software applications are also key pieces of the RFID puzzle. "If you don't have a good business intelligence solution, it's not impossible, but it will be difficult to synthesize and view the data," he explained.

Firms that do not use relational databases, in particular, could be in trouble. "If it's a flat file, you would pretty much have to pay someone to get the data out and give it to you."

— James Rogers, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch



Organizations mentioned in this article:

  • BEA Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BEAS)
  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)
  • Intel Capital
  • Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL)
  • Rustic Canyon Partners
  • SAS Institute Inc.

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