CrossTalk from noFilis Ltd

Simon Holloway

Written By:
Published: 27th May, 2008
Content Copyright © 2008 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.

In my research on the RFID Middleware market, I came across a number of vendors that were new to me. In a series of articles, I will provide a short overview of these products. The second of these is noFilis Ltd, who provide a device manager for the SAP AII environment.

noFilis was founded in 2005 and, although a registered UK company, has its headquarters in Ismaning, Germany. The company is hoping to open a USA sales office during this quarter of 2008. It is partnered with the following well-known RFID hardware vendors: Identec, Impinj, Intermec, Alien, Motorola, Psion, Siemens, Sirit, Brooks Automation, Hoeft&Wessels, Avery Dennison and Zebra. They also have partnerships with a number of less well-kown European hardware vendors: Beckhoff, Caen, Datalogic, Deister, Feig, NordicID, Hoeft & Wessels, Scemtec, Tricon and Sick. Customers of its CrossTalk product include: Daimler, Metro, Volvo, DHL, Conti, Stihl, Grammer, Hoerbiger, Huelsta, Hansgrohe, Transpharm, ElringKlinger and many more.

Today, noFilis has many partners in implementing RFID solutions based on CrossTalk: IBM Global Services, SAP, T-Systems, oce, Cap Gemini, Inconso, Itelligence, Serkem, ESG, Ciber, Siemens, Intel ISS, and over 40 more.

CrossTalk is aimed at supporting device integration and operation and has been designed to work with SAP AII, IBM Premise Server, ORACLE Fusion, BEA Enterprise Server and others. It is based on a modular, robust Java architecture. All components are designed for high availability and optimised hardware resource use. The core engine is able to run directly on small devices like RFID Readers, on "out of the box" appliances, up to clustered data centre environments.

CrossTalk consists of the following components:

  • CrossTalk Control Center is the remote management platform for all CrossTalk and AutoID components. The central Control Center provides an easy to use web interface for infrastructure configuration, monitoring, diagnostics and debugging.
  • CrossTalk Agents are common runtime environments for remote execution of any device and device-service operation. Agents are designed to run inside the local device environment and are centrally monitored and configured.
  • CrossTalk Bundles are libraries of device drivers and device services. A Bundle includes execution code, version information and configuration metadata. Bundles are loaded dynamically into an Agents engine, dependent on the used device type and required processing logic. These include:
    • RFID Gate Services
    • PLC Services
    • EPC Services
    • Appliance Services—for clustered Gate operations
  • CrossTalk Mobile is a UI Framework and Runtime engine for mobile devices. It combines the advantage of online application design and offline execution. It is being released in Q1 2008
  • CrossTalk live monitor is a UI Framework where multiple views and graphs can be configured to monitor low level sensor events in real time. This will be available in Q1 2008.
Architecture diagram

Figure 1: CrossTalk Architecture (Source: noFilis Ltd)

Conclusion
In the opinion of Bloor Research the following represent the key facts of which prospective users should be aware:

  • The CT Engine can be run and executed directly on a RFID reader device, on a PLC System on a industry PC in a production environment or, together with SAP AII middleware, in a computer centre or even distributed over several locations.
  • The CrossTalk Engine works partially in real-time. After the system starts, all necessary components (e.g., processes, device connections, services) are started and monitored automatically. Configuration and monitoring are done via the CrossTalk web interface.
  • An Agent's functionality can be extended by developing custom services and bundles via the open service interface. An SDK will be available in Q2 2008.

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