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The Latest in RFID Network 'Intelligence,' Hosting and Prediction

Vendors aren't sitting back and letting mandates from Wal-Mart, Target and the Department of Defense (DoD) drive adoption of radio frequency identification.

Vendors aren't sitting back and letting mandates from Wal-Mart, Target and the Department of Defense (DoD) drive adoption of radio frequency identification. EPCGlobal's September RFID conference in Atlanta was awash with new products addressing cost and deployment woes holding the technology back.

Cisco announced a an "Intelligent Foundation" for RFID networks and AON (Application-Oriented Networking) middleware. The middleware adds application infrastructure components at the edge of the network for RFID event capture and filtering, and in the data center for data authentication, filtering, aggregation and application protocol bridging. AON modules also can perform tasks such as outbound encryption, digital signature and content-based routing. The software starts at $16,250, and there are partners for infrastructure software, tags, real-time tracking applications, and readers and reader management software.

IBM announced an RFID Express hosted offering for small and midsize businesses. Given the vast size of the SMB market, a successful hosted approach could change the dynamics of RFID deployment. IBM has a leg up in that it's aiding the DoD with an RFID strategy for its 43,000 suppliers, many of which are SMBs. The initial fee for the service is $20,000, plus recurring costs.

Filling the business intelligence void in RFID, TrueDemand Software of Los Gatos, Calif., launched a suite of predictive analytics designed to reduce out-of-stock situations, move to demand-driven replenishment and support new product introductions and promotions.

At the nexus of low-cost RFID infrastructure and analytic apps just might be supply chain nirvana.

— Rajeev Kasturi