Excuse my little pun, but here we have RFID Anywhere from Sybase's subsidiary iAnywhere that can be run on anything and therefore everywhere! At the beginning of this month (March 2008), I had a briefing with Rob Veitch, Senior Director Business Development, Sybase iAnywhere and Matt Teskey, Senior Product Manager, Sybase iAnywhere to learn more about Sybase's offering in the RFID middleware space.
Sybase have adopted a product strategy for their complete portfolio based around the "Unwired Enterprise". RFID Anywhere is positioned as an Intelligent Sensor Network Management System that integrates RFID and sensor technologies with business logic to enable the development, deployment, configuration and maintenance of distributed intelligent sensor networks. It is the product right at the edge providing the links to the sensory devices, whatever they are, and being able to translate that information back into meaningful information for the business to take action upon.
RFID Anywhere consists of the following components:
- Administration Console - is a web-based administration tool used to access the components of RFID Anywhere.
- Application level Events Engine - this defines standard RFID tag activity reports for EPC tags without coding and feeds these reports into enterprise systems.
- Report Engine MP - provides a development model that allows developers and integrators to process raw RFID data by enabling the creation of XML reports based on the activity of tags from multiple protocols.
- Custom Business Modules - included is a Visual Studio .NET extension to create business logic to coordinate the sensor network and integrate with existing systems by handling events and controlling hardware in real-time through an API.
- SOA Layer - this include a variety of interface from Web Services interfaces to custom business logic and device controllers that exposes logic and provides integration with minimal coding.
- Hardware Connectors - there is a library of hardware connectors that abstract the low-level implementation of each specific piece of hardware. The architecture allow systems integrators to develop applications that support a broad range of hardware without needing to code to each specific hardware interface.
- Controllers - exposes the functionality necessary to support a specific family of devices such as passive RFID readers, active RFID readers, bar code scanners, mobile devices, RFID printers, RTLS systems, PLCs, GPIO or sensors. The functionality exposed by a given controller is common to all devices in the family of hardware that the controller supports.
- Location Information System (LIS) - provides an asset tracking infrastructure with the addition of business contextual information, such as asset temperature. LIS provides a capability to generate location and context data.
- RFID Anywhere Enterprise Manager - enables the management of multiple RFID Anywhere nodes from a central location and is one of the first implementations of Web Services - Management (WS-M). Enterprise Manager provides a superset of the functionality that is exposed through the web-based management console of each individual node. It includes a standalone console that provides a single view of the entire distributed network.
- RFID Network Simulator - includes a graphical tool for creating test tags and defining when the tags should appear and disappear during a simulation. Once a simulation is defined, a connector is used to receive the information from the simulation, and then passed along to the other components of the application being tested.
- Label Designer - used to design the layout of RFID labels. It is a graphical tool that provides a number of controls, such as dynamic text fields and bar codes that can be used to design an RFID label. The Label Designer generates XML documents containing the label design that are imported by specific RFID printer connectors. These designs are then translated by the connector into the format required by the specific printer, and are loaded into the printer's memory so that the labels can be printed and encoded with raw RFID tag data.
RFID Anywhere is an easy to use and understand piece of RFID middleware. Building on the well-established and proven platforms of Microsoft's .NET Framework and Sybase's Information Anywhere Suite, Sybase have exploited this base foundation to deliver all the main requirements in a piece of RFID middleware from device abstraction and management to integration to back office applications. There is a key focus on making the product easy to use for all the different roles involved in an RFID project from business analyst through developer to systems administrator.
Sybase iAnywhere have engineered a very compelling product to support the middleware functionality in RFID and sensory management applications.