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December 19, 2004

IBM extends RFID middleware for retail

IBM Corp has extended the reach of its WebSphere middleware stack into the management of RFID readers and data, with a series of software releases targeted squarely at use by retailers across their distribution depots.

By CBR Staff Writer

The new software is being touted as enabling devices such as RFID readers and controllers, kiosks and self-checkouts to be integrated with enterprise business processes. Data collected by RFID readers in stores will feed the new software offers to drive real-time tracking and analysis.

The company said its new WebSphere RFID Premises Server will allow retailers to roll out RFID throughout the supply chain, while gaining visibility of any RFID tagged pallet or product.

It will allow high volumes of data collected from a variety of RFID devices, such as those sold by Intermec or SamSys Technologies, that are connected to the server to be interpreted and correlated so that sales data can be viewed in real time, and from remote locations. Often sites will have to use third-party software connectors to link RFID readers to IBM-based enterprise applications, and generally will push consolidated data views from a central point.

The new product bundles WebSphere Application Server, DB2 Universal Database software, WebSphere MQ messaging software, and Tivoli Systems Management middleware, and uses WebSphere Portal and WebSphere Product Center to bridge the system into preferred third-party applications.

An associated product called WebSphere Remote Server will allow a retailer to snap-in to existing infrastructure components new applications and devices such as self-checkouts, mobile shopping devices, and smart shopping carts.

There is considerable pressure in the retail sector to push ahead with RFID plans. US retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc has sparked off a frenzy of RFID activity by mandating that its top 100 suppliers adopt RFID-compliant supply systems by January 2005. It is said that suppliers are spending between $1 million and $3 million each to implement RFID.

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