Sybase organizes early adopters in RFID play

Sybase is moving to claim a share of the burgeoning market for radio frequency identification technology (RFID) with an early adopter program. Announced last week at the company's TechWave user conference in Orlando, the program gets Sybase customers working with a new RFID middleware offering while it's still in development, the company says.

The program will focus on a select group of customers, system integrators and OEMs who want to jump-start development of Sybase-supported RFID solutions.

The company gave conference attendees a sneak peak at its nascent RFID offering, which combines Sybase Unwired Enterprise portfolio products with new technologies for RFID environments. The new middleware (tentatively called RFID Solution) automates development and deployment of passive RFID, active RFID and real-time location solutions for supply-chain apps for inventory, shipping and receiving, and asset tracking.

The Sybase RFID middleware will address common RFID application challenges, from heterogeneous RFID reader integration and management to back-end business process integration, officials say. Specifically, it will: 

  • Provide multiple applications with concurrent access to a network of RFID data and devices. 
  • Provide a visual integration environment for RFID business processes and data in enterprise systems. 
  • Manage RFID readers, bar-code scanners, sensors and controllers (PLCs). 
  • Allow full simulation of RFID data and content. 
  • Collect and analyze volumes of streaming RFID data. 
  • Manage and analyze data across mobile and enterprise IT environments.

Sybase also disclosed it is working with San Mateo, Calif.-based wireless-networking company AeroScout to build an RFID tracking solution that combines AeroScout's real-time discovery tools with Sybase's middleware and data management technology. The joint offering uses Wi-Fi to locate and analyze the availability of critical resources, and to deliver that information to smart phones and PDAs.

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. Wal-Mart is requiring its top 100 suppliers to implement an RFID specification by the end of this year.

IDC predicts RFID spending for the U.S. retail supply chain to grow from more than $91 million in 2003 to nearly $1.3 billion in 2008.

Sybase joins the ranks of major IT vendors that are betting big on RFID. Oracle recently announced a new product and services initiative around RFID and what it calls 'sensor-based' technologies. Microsoft created its own RFID group -- the Microsoft Radio Frequency Identification Council -- to bring together major partners delivering RFID solutions on the Microsoft platform. SAP is building RFID technology into its core product, R/3. And Sun Microsystems opened a 17,000 square foot RFID testing facility in Dallas complete with loading docks, high-speed conveyor belts and forklifts.

More information about Sybase's early adopter program is available at .

About the Author

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



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