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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

RFID Middleware-- One Size Does Not Fit All via RFID weblog

Forrester Research looks to be the first company to compare and rate the main RFID middleware providers, in a research report just out.Their conclusion? Companies looking for a middleware solution need to do a lot of careful shopping. The providers out there all have very different capabilities and strengths. No single solution fits every situation. Forrester says,"In response to urgent user demand, RFID middleware vendors are crawling out of the woodwork, with RFID pure plays, platform giants, supply chain application vendors, and integration specialists making a play. To stand the test of time, RFID middleware must include a balanced combination of core infrastructure and packaged application features, including device management, integration, data management, and packaged business logic. Products from vendors like Manhattan Associates and OATSystems that include some packaged application functionality are best suited for meeting the needs of time-strapped early adopters. But Forrester expects platform giants like Oracle and IBM to become more dominant in this space as firms build out broader RFID architectures".

Forrester looked at 13 different providers, ranging from very large enterprise system companies such as Oracle, to specialized RFID providers such as OatSystems. Here are some of the main takeaways from the report:
The market is extremely early for RFID middleware. As a result, this market space is seeing rapid product development cycles, sometimes as short as 3 months.When evaluating RFID middleware, companies should take into account the data integration systems they currently have. With RFID middleware you are not buying a complete packaged solution, but rather, building a software infrastructure. Companies may already have data integration applications that can be used for part of the solution. Early adopters and those under a mandate should look at the "RFID pure plays" like Manhattan Associates, that currently have true RFID products with connectivity to RFID readers. The downside is that these companies don't have long proven track records, possibly having just a few pilots under their belts.Companies evaluating RFID for the long term should look at the big players, like IBM. Most of the big providers don't have true products on the market today, but instead are filling in gaps in their product offerings with a lot of customized services. While today they may lack pieces/parts (e.g., good connectivity to RFID readers), eventually they will catch up and overtake the early companies because they offer scalable solutions and better data integration capabilities.
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