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Retail Chain Test Could Lead To RFID In Data Centers

Meijer has been testing a Hewlett-Packard prototype system that uses RFID to track servers in its data centers.
RFID technology has made inroads in business and IT for its ease in tracking trucks, trains, and pallets of goods as they move from suppliers to sellers. But one place radio frequency identification tags and the computer systems that manage them have been notably absent is inside IT departments' own computer rooms.

Now researchers from Hewlett-Packard say they've completed a three-month test of RFID technology for tracking computers and disk drives in data centers at Meijer, a 176-store retail chain in the Midwest. The test could pave the way for a commercial system that uses RFID to track hundreds or thousands of pieces of computer equipment.

The HP prototype combines RFID tags affixed to servers with specially designed readers that sit inside the door of a server rack's cabinet and custom-designed software that can alert IT managers within seconds when a server changes location. The software also can track equipment's whereabouts over time. "You have all your server information at the click of a mouse," says Tim Osbeck, a Meijer IT manager. Meijer already uses RFID to track trucks and accepts RFID-enabled payment cards at some stores.