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Insider's BLOG from the RFID Experts

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Giving IT Assets a Voice with RFID

  
  
  
  

Earlier this week ODIN formally launched our Intelligent Asset Management (I AM™) software for RFID enabled IT Asset Tracking. I AM™ and its use of RFID is a bit of a revolution for IT Asset Management and IT Asset Security. In the past, IT assets could only be identified through active human intervention. A human had to locate and record a serial number on the asset or initiate a bar code scan. Assets had no voice. With I AM’s use of RFID, assets can now speak for themselves. It's the ultimate RFID software.

What happens when assets can speak?

Servers, laptops, PCs and even intelligent routers can communicate over the network and provide useful information to Network Management Systems (NMS), configuration management databases and other software. That is great while they are on the network. But what happens when they are disconnected and moved? We are back to relying on human discipline to track asset movement or more often hunting for assets when they go missing. How do you know if an asset is leaving a secure area or a building? Unless you have a human checking, you don’t. You can see a trend developing here.

What about when you have to conduct a physical asset inventory or comply with an asset audit? The network communications is disregarded. Physical inventories are typically required quarterly or annually for high value and sensitive assets or need to be done when asset responsibility is transferring from one person to another. The physical inventory requires a person to move throughout an office building or data center, climb underneath desks, find misplaced or moved items and double check the data accuracy for the items that are inventoried.

When assets can speak for themselves, they can say, “I am a server with a specific serial number, permissions and pedigree,” and then systems can validate it for physical inventory or movement authorization. When a person is present all of the assets can speak essentially at once so inventory identification time goes from hours to minutes or minutes to seconds. When a person is not present, the system can also identify the asset and create an automated history of its lifecycle and movements. It can even automatically associate it with people using secure access cards so asset movement is linked to location, time, direction and a person.

Not just more convenient, RFID lowers cost

A large financial services company estimates a lost hard drive costs over $3 million in terms of recovery and remediation expenses. An RFID tagged hard-drive can speak allowing its movement to be monitored or restricted and more easily found. An RFID tagged laptop can identify its movement into and out of facilities by authorized personnel. PCs and servers can be received and inventoried five to ten times faster than other methods reducing operational cost by over a hundred dollars per asset while also improving accuracy.

Doesn’t RFID Cost a Lot? Isn’t RFID hard to implement?

In the past, the type of RFID that worked well on IT assets did cost a lot. No more. Inexpensive passive RFID tags suitable for IT assets cost $1-$3 today and have dropped about 40% in the last year. You no longer require a million dollars to implement a data center with RFID. The latest RFID Software designed for physics and 100% accuracy can be embedded on the readers. It is both affordable and accurate.

This leaves the pesky issue of RFID being hard to implement. It was. That is precisely why ODIN developed I AM™ for our customers over the past several years; it's a new approach to RFID Software. They not only wanted automation for IT Asset tracking, they wanted it to be easy to use and integrate with other systems.

An IEEE approach to RFID IT Asset Tracking

ODIN’s engineering team is a group of physicists, computer and electrical engineers and so it is only appropriate that the I AM™ philosophy is embedded in the acronym IEEE (for you non-engineering types, just consider this an inside joke).

  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to Implement
  • Easy to Use
  • Easy to Integrate

I AM™ makes RFID IT asset tracking available to a whole new audience of users who couldn’t afford the high priced RFID systems offered in the past. It is now inexpensive. I AM™ is also designed to be easy to implement. By easy to implement, we mean up and running with RFID IT asset tracking in under an hour.

By easy to use, we are talking about three things:

1. An intuitive system that works on handhelds, laptops, PCs or servers that enables users to capture, validate, reconcile and review IT asset data in seconds

2. A system that is accurate and captures RFID tag data reliably so exception processing is minimized

3. A system that can operate stand-alone replacing Excel Worksheets and Access Databases or be integrated into Enterprise Asset Management or other systems of record and provide useful feature extensions and value to those systems by automating IT asset tracking functions

Easy to integrate is another essential feature. For those looking to adopt RFID beyond a stand-alone system, integration challenges must be considered. The ODIN team built I AM™ on top of our EasyEdge™ RFID device management and integration platform that enables ease of standards based integration into common systems such as Maximo, Oracle EAM, Sunflower, Savi SmartChain, Remedy, SAP and others. Integrating RFID into your asset management systems no longer needs to be a herculean task.

RFID IT Asset Tracking in a single package: software, hardware, services as needed

Beyond the IEEE philosophy, the I AM™ launch is important for end users, because it isn’t just software. It ships as a complete solution including tags and readers that can be end user configured and used standalone or fully integrated into other enterprise systems. For either user type, implementation and training services are available as well. In the past, users would need to buy software and hardware from multiple vendors that didn’t necessarily have a history of collaboration. ODIN’s I AM™ is a single turnkey IT asset tracking solution that combines all of the required components in an easy to buy package. Whether standalone or integrated, I AM™ gives IT assets a voice and asset managers relief from years of IT asset tracking headaches.

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