IBM announced at the beginning of this week an update to their RFID middleware products. The capability of collecting information from RFID devices has been extended to cover any type of sensor. Sensors are part of our everyday lives, used in objects such as lights that dim and brighten depending on the level of darkness and in thermometers, which react to changes in temperature. Today, many kinds of sensors are used to monitor and manage water flow rates, highway traffic, seismic activity, air quality, the flow of energy across power grids, and much more.
WebSphere Sensor Events captures data from sensors and automates a reaction by a business system following a set of rules or events. The software covers the complete process from capturing information from sensing devices to connecting with systems for analytics, business process management and managing information technology and physical assets.
WebSphere Sensor Events includes business event processing technology IBM obtained from its acquisition of AptSoft Corporation in 2008 as well as business process management and events management capabilities from WebSphere and Tivoli software. The product's user interface allows businesses to change the decision parameters they are using to act upon sensor data so that they are not locked into a single way of responding to a given situation. In addition to events management, IBM's business process management offerings include business rules technology that governs decision-making around a variety of business challenges such as scheduling, budgets, and deadlines. The product will provide clients with data that can be accessed by IBM's recently introduced Smart Analytics System as well as IBM Cognos software.
The announcement included a number of references to the use of IBM sensing technology being used in different industry sectors. Volkswagen are using IBM sensor software for on-demand access to information on the exact location of the shipping containers used to transport parts from suppliers to the manufacturing floor. Nortura, Norway's largest producer of meat and eggs, uses IBM sensor technology to track meat from farm to processing plants, and then to distribution centres and stores.
WebSphere Sensor Events is also being put to work in data centres, including several IBM facilities. Here it is used to keep track of devices such as computers, switches and backup tapes. For this purpose, the Asset Inventory Management Services feature of WebSphere Sensor Events works with the infrastructure management capabilities provided by IBM Tivoli software providing information about physical inventory, such as the unauthorized movement of costly computer equipment.
In the Technology report and market update on RFI Middleware Bloor produced in 2008, I made mention that the direction for RFID middleware was to become middleware for all automated sensory devices. This is just what IBM has now delivered. Bloor sees this as a significant step in the development of RFID software.