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Wireless Development: Sun offers new RFID software

Sun Microsystems Inc. rolled out its first radio frequency identification (RFID) software product this week as part of the firm's quarterly series of product introductions. Sun officials said the new Java System RFID Software is designed to simplify the integration of RFID data into enterprise information systems and to reduce the complexity of managing the massive amounts of data expected to result from the proliferation of this technology.

'Ultimately, driving business benefits with RFID will require integrating with back-end systems,' V.J. Sarathy, group marketing manager at Sun, told eADT. 'How do you do that and consider all of the factors that will come into play in a large-scale RFID deployment? You do it with standards-based components that can be integrated seamlessly with existing infrastructure components within the enterprise.'

RFID is a radio frequency-based method of storing and retrieving data using small objects called tags, which can be attached or incorporated into a product. Currently used for everything from pet locators and auto anti-theft systems to library book trackers and toll-booth fast passes, RFID technology has generated a great deal of development activity recently because of its potential to replace bar-code scanning as a means of identifying inventory. Giant retailer Wal-Mart is requiring its top 100 suppliers to implement an RFID specification by the end of this year, prompting a slew of development efforts in the systems and ISV communities.

Sun's new RFID product consists of two components: the Sun Java System RFID Event Manager and the Sun Java System RFID Information Server. The Event Manager processes information from RFID tags and filters that data based on a customer's requirements. This component is one of the first to utilize Sun's Jini technology, an open architecture for creating highly adaptive, network-centric services. The Information Server processes streams of data coming from Electronic Product Code (EPC) readers and delivers that data to enterprise applications. The Information Server is middleware that runs on top of the Sun Java System Application Server 7 as part of the Sun Java Enterprise System.

Sun sees this product offering as a key component of its evolving RFID strategy. As previously reported here, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based systems manufacturer recently opened a 17,000-square-foot testing facility in Dallas, complete with loading docks, high-speed conveyor belts and forklifts.

'[This product] is the next step in our strategy for bringing comprehensive RFID solutions to the market,' Sarathy said. 'We look at RFID as a systems problem, and so we take a systems approach, which includes the hardware, software, services, solutions and partnerships.' Eventually, Sun plans to offer business solutions based on its RFID components, Sarathy added.

Sun is offering the solution on an annual subscription basis. The model is designed to allow customers to start small and scale as their RFID deployment needs grow, Sarathy said.

The Sun Java System RFID Software for the Solaris Operating System is scheduled to ship this summer, with Linux availability scheduled for the fall. For more information on Sun Java RFID Software, please go to http://www.sun.com/rfid .

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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