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Endpoint Management Community Blog

RFID Based Asset Management System

Created: 24 Sep 2009 • Updated: 24 Sep 2009 • 3 comments
Ramprasad_Rajaraman's picture
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Recently I have been reading more and more articles which talk of the usage of the RFID tag in the IT Asset Management. I was thinking of some benefits  which can improvise the Asset Mgmt System with the usage of the RFID tags. Currently most of the asset management system, makes use of the IP address ping or the SNMP or the WMI mechanism in order to keep track of the assets which are available in the Data Center. With the RFID buzz word getting more and more in to the IT world, why don't we make use of the RFID tags which will act as a tracker for the assets.

The traditional method of tracking the asset involves the ip address ping, WMI or the SNMP, which may not be appropriate in all the cases. Let us assume if a router is not configured and not connected to any of the system in the data center, its difficult to track whether the router is existing or not in case of large Data Centers. This phenomenon even applies to switches, servers and other IT assets in the Data center. The main advantage of using RFID tag involves the frequency manipulation which is being tracked by the asset mgmt system and then transfers the corresponding data back to the availability of the physical asset existence.

In many Asset management system, this feature is lagging, for example, consider Altris asset mgmt system, this cannot detect the servers and switches if the same has been gone out of the network, but still alive. If we use RFID tags, this can be detected using the signal and the same can be updated in the system. This sounds similar to locating the disconnected assets which are with in the control of the data center. Instead of people going physically and then monitoring the assets, let the RFID tag does for the person.

The main involvement from the programmers point of view i saw here is, we need to write an API which detects the RFID signal and based on the signal, it needs to identify the type of physical resource and then updates the corresponding inventory. This API has to be written carefully by following the standards given in the RFID tag and at the same time, it should be flexible enough to identify any kind of asset which the data center is having.

The only disadvantage i saw in using the RFID approach is related to cost. Since for every asset we need to have a tag it will have an huge impact on the cost, but if we compare the benefits we got from using the RFID in terms of not losing any asset, this will not be an issue for bigger enterprises.

Since the concept of RFID is an evolving one and the APIs which the RFID tag generators provide are not that clear, we need to have a deep dive before investing in this kind of investigation and implementation.

Most of the Asset management systems are already in place in many enterprises and this kind of idea will just be an enhancement to the system which is already existing. More over we can say this as an value addition to those systems. If the enterprise really wants to use the same, they can else they can disable this feature. We need to implement in such a fashion that the flexibility of using RFID and not using should be provided to the enterprise and also the Data Center admin must have the privilege to choose on which assets has to get identified by RFID and which assets are not. By giving this kind of Robust and flexible approach, the RFID based asset management systems can be taken to the next level.

Your thoughts on this folks :)

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mickwearn's picture

We are replacing all our barcodes with RFID barcodes - Well that is if I can get the RFID audit to work on Symantec barcode solution 7.1

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STAUBYN's picture

Did you ever get the RFID barcodes to work effectively with Symantec

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mickwearn's picture

No we have abandoned RFID barcodes

- they are too big/expensive to use with computers because of the interference. We have heard that Dell/HP etc.. are starting to build RFID tags on the mother boards but this could be years away, plus we will have to wait for fleet turn over.

- whilst RFID is excellent for scanning heaps of assets its no good if you only want to scan a few, for example you only want to scan one shelf of PC... RFID would scan all the barcodes.. 

- ultimately its no good for IT and is best for things like Luggage at airports, and shipping cartons and clothes.

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