RFID Middleware Battleground Emerges

Radio frequency identification (RFID) hype has created a new market for middleware,
according to a new Forrester Research report.

The report, called “Evaluating RFID Middleware,” argues that
moves by large industry players like Wal-Mart to embrace RFID have created
a short-term urgency that doesn’t necessarily address the big picture.
As a result, RFID middleware is positioning itself as a longer-term solution
that allow enterprises to take better advantage of term benefits of RFID
implementation.

Forrester surveyed RFID industry players
ConnecTerra, GlobeRanger, IBM, Manhattan Associates, Microsoft,
OATSystems, Oracle, RF Code, SAP, Savi Technology, Sun Microsystems,
TIBCO Software and webMethods as part of its study. The firm found that RFID
middleware still needs to mature to include a deeper set of capabilities
than the early RFID solutions focused on.

“Many suppliers have found themselves in a position in which — in the
short term — they must implement RFID to comply with high-profile
mandates,” said Sharyn Leaver, Forrester Research vice president and research director.
“In order to gain long-term benefits, these suppliers need
to intelligently incorporate the data they are collecting to make
improvements to their overall business processes. RFID middleware is the
tool that companies will use to manage RFID data by routing it between tag
readers and the multitude of systems within their businesses.”

Forrester ranked Manhattan Associates, OATSystems, and SAP as leaders
among the early adopters of RFID. The report found that solutions for
these vendors, “strike a balance between core middleware features like
reader integration and data filtering and capabilities that resemble
applications like EPC commissioning and track-and-trace tools.”

According to Forrester, SAP holds the lead position for
long-term RFID middleware success based on its experience, which covers
both infrastructure and applications.

When looking beyond the first movers and early adopters, Forrester
believes that Microsoft, IBM and Oracle will eventually
take their rightful place in RFID leadership, as their solutions are
released throughout the remainder of the year.

Early-adopter leaders Manhattan Associates and OATSystem will remain viable in the long
term, according to Forrester, by integrating their offerings in
larger solutions and platforms from Oracle, IBM, TIBCO or webMethods.

The maturation of RFID extends beyond the middleware layer. Professional
services surrounding the nascent technology are also maturing and growing.
According to a
report
issued last week by ABI Research, the third phase
of RFID adoption is under way, which has resulted in huge growth for the
RFID consulting services.

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