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BEA Buys RFID Software Maker

UPDATED: BEA Systems today purchased ConnecTerra, a privately held maker of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) software, for an undisclosed sum.

ConnecTerra, of Cambridge, Mass., makes middleware that can help retailers pull supply chain data from applications on a variety of devices and render them through one, easily readable console.

BEA said in a statement ConnecTerra's portfolio includes filtering software at the "edge" of the network, as well as device management at the local store, manufacturing plant or distribution center.

ConnecTerra also makes RFID data management and compliance software for RFID retail and defense rules.

BEA, which has been candid about its interest in RFID software because of the promising revenue opportunities it offers from retail customers, said it plans to use its WebLogic Communications Platform in conjunction with ConnecTerra's software to build business processes based on RFID.

WebLogic Communications Platform is a software suite geared to power services such as e-mail, video, voice, chat or gaming.

The platform, previously known as Project Da Vinci, is run-time software tailored for telecommunications providers that want to offer customers cutting-edge technologies such as Voice-over IP (VoIP) and RFID.

Marge Breya, BEA chief marketing officer, said on a conference call from BEAWorld in London today that the combination of BEA and ConnectTerra yields standards-based technology on both sides of the fence.

"This also means we have a single infrastructure that can go ahead and make the assets at the edge of the network go back into the data center. We also believe the combination will mean we're going to be able to automate key busines processes that will be RFID-enabled. RFID is the killer app for the sensor network."

BEA and ConnecTerra have a history together, albeit a brief one. BEA said it has been working with ConnecTerra over the past year with customers to create software bundles for pallet- and case-tracking applications in retail.

Since 2001, ConnecTerra has built a solid reputation selling its software to more than 25 consumer-packaged goods, retail and transportation companies and system integrators. ConnecTerra is also helping to shape RFID standards in standards groups such as EPCglobal.

BEA isn't alone in believing RFID will reap a lot of revenues. AMR Research said in a study that 69 percent of companies are planning to test or use RFID in 2005.

And those vendors aren't all necessarily in retail.

Vendors in consumer products, pharmaceuticals, defense and transportation sectors are adopting RFID to reduce out-of-stock inventory and counterfeiting and spoilage.