To understand RFID middleware, take a journey into space (… the final frontier …) and picture the scene: With explosions rocking his ship and panicked crew members shouting urgently from their posts around the command center, Captain Jean-Luc Picard maintains his cool at the center of the Bridge on the Starship Enterprise. He requests a status update from one crew member and considers a suggestion by another. With the fates of entire planets and peoples on the line, he carefully weighs the information before issuing his famous, confident and decisive order: “Make it so.”
In the world of Star Trek, the fate of the universe frequently depends on Picard’s unwavering talent for sound decision-making. But the unsung heroes of the Starship Enterprise are the technology and crew that keep the ship functioning, give Picard full visibility of his ship operations, and provide him with accurate details that enable him to make decisions with such certainty.
In business, the decisions you make are more likely to impact operations and profitability than planets and populations. And when you’re trying to manage panic-inducing scenarios with RFID technology, having tags in place and readers powered up only gets you started. You need to have full visibility and accurate details about your RFID solution – this includes everything from the health and condition of your hardware, to the data your readers collect. For this, there’s RFID middleware.
RFID Middleware: Your Operations Command Center
Middleware is the command center of your RFID solution – the bridge that connects all of the components of your RFID system. Without it, all of the data captured by an RFID reader would simply stay on that individual device. RFID middleware collects data from all of your hardware, filters out duplicate or junk data, and then translates the data into a format that other business software can understand. This gives you single-pane-of-glass access to your data so that you can interpret the information and take appropriate action – with Picard-like confidence.
RFID middleware typically performs the following functions:
- Hardware management – so you can manage readers and antennas, individually or as a group, from a remote dashboard
- Data management and filtering – automatically eliminating duplicate reads and redundant information
- Application integration – enabling you to access your RFID data from an existing business application
“Make It So.”
As with most technology solutions, one size does not fit all when it comes to middleware. The product you choose should be determined by your business needs and the capabilities of any existing technology you already have deployed.
A significant challenge for any company trying to implement a new RFID solution is integrating new components with existing legacy technology. RFID middleware that is flexible, versatile, and customizable is key to streamlining this integration. But until you’re actually using RFID on a daily basis, it can be difficult to know how much integration you’ll really need.
We recommend looking for software that gives you the option of being deployed either as traditional middleware or as a full, end-to-end solution. Traditional middleware stays in the background and feeds data into your existing business applications. End-to-end solutions, on the other hand, typically include a browser-based web application that can perform functions similar to a business management system and enable you to manage your data and generate reports right from the user interface.
Several capabilities make StrategicRFID, Strategic Systems’ middleware platform, stand out from the crowd as a scalable, flexible option. In line with our earlier recommendation, StrategicRFID has its own user interface and can serve as a data management system if you don’t already have one – this makes it a very attractive option to organizations that are not using enterprise-wide software. But StrategicRFID has a lot to offer most organizations, regardless of software preference.
- Our developers have written an impressive number of APIs that make StrategicRFID readily compatible with many web applications and back-end systems, including both SAP and Oracle.
- Our web application offers a wide variety of rules for sorting and filtering data, such as by location, tag, etc., so that you can generate reports that are relevant to your business processes.
- Users can run diagnostics right from our web application to determine where errors are occurring in your system. It can also notify you if an element of your system is not working properly.
- Our web application offers a menu of customizable options for setting rules to determine when and how often your readers will collect and store data. For instance, you can choose to set your readers to collect data at specific intervals, such as “once per 60 seconds,” etc.
- Filter out redundant or duplicate data so that you work with only relevant, actionable information.
If you’re searching for an RFID solution for your company or organization, you probably have shopped around for RFID hardware and have some idea of what to expect in terms of software. It’s even possible that you’ve discussed middleware and didn’t even know it. This is because middleware is often packaged with or classified simply as software.
We want to remove this confusion from the discussion. We want you to have a thorough understanding of the elements of what you need in an RFID solution so that you can ask the right questions and weigh your options. When the time comes, you’ll know exactly what you’re purchasing.
If you have any general questions about middleware or about how StrategicRFID can help you maintain confident command of your ship – er, business operations – don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re here to help.