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RFID Anywhere Eyes Enterprise Rollouts

Sybase subsidiary iAnywhere released the 2.0 version of its RFID Anywhere software platform, saying it's ready to support major enterprise implementations.

At the time RFID Anywhere 1.0 was released in February 2005, most businesses were still in the experimentation stage, according to Steve Robb, senior director of marketing for iAnywhere. Now, they're ready to begin major projects. Enhancements to the original product were based on what iAnywhere learned about the needs of large-scale adopters.

The 2.0 version includes Enterprise Manager, a standalone console that can be accessed from a browser to monitor and manage the entire RFID network. It can distribute and update software and system configurations and monitor the health of the RFID network.

The product has beefed-up security, as well. Devices can be authenticated against network-based directories such as LDAP, Active Directory or Windows NT domain directories. Administrators can grant specific rights to individuals or groups.

"Advanced security is a big concern of everyone right now," Robb said. "Our product will introduce capabilities to ensure a good audit trail and good control over who's using the RFID network."

The company said that Tuesday's release supports a broad range of protocols and standards, such as standards-based RFID and barcode protocols in the ISO and EPC families, including the EPCglobal Generation 2 (GEN 2) standard, as well as customized tag formats required by customer applications.

A Data Protocol Processor operates as a “universal translator” for handling the broad variety of protocols and tag formats. RFID Anywhere handles interfaces with RFID devices such as readers and printers, as well as non-RFID data collection technology such as bar code equipment and remote monitoring devices.

"I don't think we've worked on an opportunity yet that didn't include some technology that was non-RFID," Robb said. "That could include existing barcode processes they wanted to integrate, or other kinds of intelligent sensors or controllers. We've run into the need for lots of protocols beyond the EPCglobal standard."

Matt Teskey, iAnywhere product manager, said that the new product's support for multiple protocols and custom data allows better integration with corporate systems.

"If an enterprise is working with tags that include something like an expiration date or a cold chain scenario, RFID Anywhere can work with that data, and it can consolidate that data into one common report or set of outputs."

Multi-protocol support is also of value in making it easier for customers to change and grow their RFID networks. "The underlying architecture allows us to quickly respond to new families of hardware and new specific pieces of hardware as well," Teskey said, "such as support for RFID tag printers and some of the new readers on the market. "

Sensors are another type of device finding its way into RFID networks, and Teskey said sensor integration has been a requirement of almost all the company's customers.

A Data Protocol Processor decodes tag data after it's read and encodes it when printing or commissioning RFID tags. The application supports multiple protocols throughout its operation, iAnywhere said.

The company also announced an RFID Anywhere Developer Program that offers free developer versions of the software, comprehensive support materials and general RFID educational content to customers, partners, and prospects. New code can be tested through an RFID Simulator without investments in readers and tags. It will ship the developer edition in the fourth quarter giving developers the ability to do everything except actually take an application live in the enterprise.

"The developer program mirrors a similar one that's been extremely successful for iAnywhere SQL Anywhere database," Robb said. "It's a low-cost, low-risk path to getting familiar with RFID technology."

Parent company Sybase plans to offer RFID Anywhere 2.0 as a middleware component of its own RFID Enterprise offering.