How To Use The Cloud to Close The RFID Middleware Gap

When the Walmart initiative pushed RFID into the spotlight for suppliers to tag their inventory and incoming transportation into their distribution centers RFID was difficult, expensive, and not so friendly to implement.  Now, several years later a wider adoption, increased sales for tags and cloud computing have driven RFID costs down considerably.

When the RFID craze of large retailers were telling their suppliers to adopt this technology at their own cost or don’t deal with us companies had not much choice.  The expected amount for RFID tags had not lived upto expectations and prices for tags were still high, thus limiting adoption.  Limited expertise at the time and fewer certified RFID companies that could provide the entire hardware and software and consulting needed to comply with the existing standards pushed down by Walmart, Albertsons, Metro etc.

Major problems of the time was how the new RFID data would be integrated into your existing systems, how is the data generated, managed, administered, stored and could it actually provide real-time inventory results ?  At the time middleware was needed to create, manage, administer and integrate this newly created data into your existing systems.  The hassle of setting up a physical RFID network and setup was the other problem.   Today that is not the case.  Many things have changed since, tag prices have drastically decreased, companies are more RFID capable including their expertise and a major  game changer is cloud computing.

Cloud computing can offer organizations and easier point of entry into the RFID compliance game.  How so you ask ?  When I setting up networks and software for RFID networks for retailers, suppliers and manufacturers etc.  The middleware layer required then also someone who understood the information generated from the RFID system, could interpret it, use it in other systems towards an entire data strategy for and organization and make it available to the existing systems in a company to be used for real-time inventory visibility. At that time expertise in the RFID were limited and not many companies understood the implications of the newly created middleware and the administration that would be required going forward.

Now, cloud vendors and SaaS offerings and models have made it easier for organizations to get hold of this technology without the major capital costs that were once needed. Vendors have created a managed services model where the RFID box and middleware is stored on-premise and the vendor manages all the data, helps with integration to other apps, data and application administration, storage/retrieval of all the RFID related software.  Which was the sticking point before, the harder part of the integration.  Now different vendors and providers can offer these services based in a cloud and allowing organizations to not worry about the technical stuff and heavy outlay of capital expense has greatly reduced the entry point of RFID.  Companies can leverage this model and even pay per usage as their needs increase or decrease.  This new model gives them the ability to chase deals where RFID is needed without having to build an entire RFID network.  The business flexibility offered here can quickly be scaled up or down based on the situation.

While there are still some residual costs such as the tags and the like this new model allows business agility, real-time inventory visibility and the ability to compete more effectively at significantly lower costs. Whereas before all the hardware and software had to be purchased plus integration services plus professional services, plus administration needed to be purchased upfront.  Thanks to cloud computing and innovative  vendors finding ways to offer their services in different formats allows RFID in the cloud.

Eval-Source is an Analyst/Consulting consulting firm that offers enterprise software evaluation, benchmarking for companies and strategic consulting to the business marketplace. Our innovative professional services combine to make your life easier whether it is to acquire enterprise software , or benchmarking to add critical decision support to your technology investments using the Tru-Eval and Tru-Benchmark systems.  Follow our blog at or on twitter @eval_source

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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