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Perhaps ESP’s most alluring quality is that its deployments do not require alterations to existing systems. ESP typically runs alongside transaction processing systems, communicating into the enterprise by way of a messaging service or custom adaptor.
Specific to RFID, ESP can improve data validity by scrubbing out the inevitable glitches, collisions, and partial reads. And it’s capable of addressing many early-game RFID anomalies, such as flow direction by consolidating added data from motion controllers into discrimination analysis.
As RFID implementation costs drop and tag data becomes increasingly smarter, application sophistication will rise. Accounting for future RFID imperatives -- for example, environmental data or tag updates along a supply-chain route -- will necessitate efficient correlation and analysis. So, although complex event stream processing may not be a requirement for RFID today, it is a smart approach for maintaining insight into tomorrow’s highly distributed, real-time networks.
Inside the broadcast booth
Building an RFID infrastructure means programming not only custom software using ALE but also the hardware interfaces of RFID readers. Thus, for all but the smallest of deployments, this is no easy task. A much better option for streamlining integration and ensuring data integrity is to use the variety of middleware tools and platforms now available from a number of vendors.
On the forefront of RFID network management, Sun Microsystems released a major update in February: Sun Java System RFID Software 3.0. The package comprises Sun Java System RFID Event Manager, Sun Java System RFID Information Server, a developer kit, and a management console module.
The Information Server provides reader support and application query services, while Event Manager tackles event processing to filter and smooth data input. Most importantly, the package delivers excellent distributed fail-over, something that’s crucial to the zero-downtime tolerance of RFID.
The new version includes APIs that address reader and printer functionality. Another highlight is the addition of Java ME (formerly J2ME) support, for embedding intelligent processing directly onto devices, an excellent next-step advance into building smart readers and appliances capable of interconnecting with automation devices throughout the warehouse without centralized server control. In addition, Sun has included support for both ALE and the EPC-IS (EPCglobal Information Services) interface for RFID data exchange among trading partners, as well as support for SAP’s AII (Auto-ID Infrastructure).