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IBM Advances Use of Open Standards in RFID Solutions


Today at EPC Connection, IBM (NYSE: IBM) announced two significant developments in its effort to advance the use of open standards in radio frequency identification (RFID) solutions and help companies make better use of data that can enable new business insights and drive business process transformation.

Specifically, IBM revealed that eight leading device manufacturers have implemented the Eclipse open source device model to interface their devices with the IBM Premises Server 6.0. In a separate development, GS1 EPCglobal has certified the IBM WebSphere RFID Information Center version 1.1 as fully compliant with the EPCIS standards for tracking the progress of items as they move through the supply chain.
“IBM is committed to helping to establish an open architecture that will allow sensor data to be seamlessly integrated into business processes,” said Martin Wildberger, vice president, sensors and actuator solutions, IBM. “By establishing partnerships and creating software that is based on industry standards, we can make it easier for organizations to reap the benefits of sensor solutions.”

An Expanding Ecosystem of RFID Partners
IBM announced today that Alien Technology, Arcom, FEIG ELECTRONIC, Intermec, Motorola, Reva Systems, Sirit, and TAGSYS have been approved through the IBM WebSphere RFID Device validation program, which helps device manufacturers ensure interoperability with IBM’s WebSphere Premises Server.

The WebSphere Premises Server is an enterprise-class solution that enables real-time aggregation and analysis of RFID and other sensor information. The software builds upon a services oriented architecture (SOA) foundation to give context to sensor events within required business processes, integrating with the EPCIS repository and applications such as enterprise resource planning, warehouse management systems, and manufacturing systems. In addition, the product provides the secure messaging, data management, and systems management capabilities needed for a scaleable sensor management solution that ensures transaction performance as projects scale.

IBM shipped the newest version of WebSphere Premises Server, version 6.0, in March 2007, and introduced an open standards-based RFID device support model to enable RFID device vendors to easily deliver data to IBM’s middleware. The device support program is part of the Eclipse open source community, expanding the reach of IBM RFID device integration to a worldwide ecosystem of partners.

In order to speed RFID equipment manufacturers time to market, embedded systems integrators Apogee Software and MicroDoc have been trained to build device adapters using the new Eclipse device toolkit. Both companies are working with RFID equipment manufacturers to build device adapters or intelligent reader controller platforms that are compatible with WebSphere RFID data capture.

In related news, IBM is providing support for EPCglobal’s newly ratified reader interface standard, called Low Level Reader Protocol (LLRP). IBM plans to contribute the new adapter to which will reduce the time and effort needed to use the new standard. As part of this effort, IBM is working with Impinj to validate the LLRP compatibility of Impinj’s Speedway reader. LLRP will benefit manufacturers by allowing them to focus their energies on building unique capabilities in their products. Enterprises will also benefit, as the new standard will help protect their investment in RFID by fostering the broad availability of standards-compliant readers that can be optimized to meet their specific requirements.

IBM Leads in Achieving EPCIS Certification
Today, standards organization GS1 EPCglobal announced that IBM WebSphere RFID Information Center has been certified and is fully compliant with the organization’s EPCIS standard. EPCIS provides a data model for events including shipping and receiving of uniquely identified objects such as units and cases. The standard also defines interfaces for capturing product movement data and for the sharing of that information with trading partners. Through trading partner collaboration via EPCIS data sharing, enterprises can achieve pedigree compliance and reduce shipping discrepancies.

WebSphere RFID Information Center is a proven solution for enterprises seeking to share product movement information with trading partners that are also using EPCIS compliant solutions. The newest version of the software includes an optional ePedigree feature that provides all participants in the pharmaceutical supply chain with secure and on demand access to historical data on individual bottles or packages of medicine to enable compliance with current and emerging regulations.

“As a core participant in the creation of the requirements for the EPCIS standard, IBM has been a leader in adopting open standards in its RFID solutions,” said Bernie Hogan, senior vice president and chief technology officer, GS1 US. “The IBM WebSphere RFID Information Center software complies fully with the EPCIS standard, which means it can be used by enterprises to securely and efficiently share data with trading partners who are also using EPCIS compliant solutions.”

The EPCIS standard was ratified in April 2007 and conformance testing began in September 2007. To be certified as EPCIS compliant, a solution must pass a battery of tests that target a set of interfaces defined in the EPCIS standards. These include: HTTP Capture Application, HTTP Capture Server, Query Control over HTTP, Query Callback to HTTP, and HTTPs destinations. IBM WebSphere RFID Information Center passed the tests in every one of these areas. Testing was conducted on EPCglobal’s behalf by an independent company, MetLabs.

IBM WebSphere RFID Information Center is already being used successfully by AmerisourceBergen, a “big three” pharmaceutical distributor, in its Sacramento pilot, and by a large global pharmaceutical manufacturer. ITAIDE, a global e-customs project, is also using WebSphere RFID Information Center to manage serial numbers relating to the global movement of shipping containers.


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