RFID in the Data Center

Bank of America said last week that it is using radio frequency identification chips (RFID) to keep track of servers and other IT equipment, and is working to advance a standard for RFID tracking in financial data centers. The huge bank, which just got even bigger with its acquisition of Merrill Lynch, has deployed RFID in 14 of its 28 data centers, the company told RFID Journal (link via Zero Downtime).

RFID allows information to be stored and retrieved on small devices called RFID tags, The technology is used in enterprise supply chain management, allowing companies to keep track of the location and status of products and orders. RFID has obvious utility in data center consolidations and migrations and in managing server sprawl in large organizations.  

Companies offering RFID products for data center management include HP, IBM and RFCode, which integrates RFID tracking into IBM hardware and software.

HP has been testing its data center RFID project since 2006 and in June launched a suite of products for tracking, inventory management and security. “Escalating customer demand for automated tracking led to HP’s development of this service,” said Frank Lanza, worldwide RFID director, Technology Solutions Group, HP. 

IBM introduced WebSphere RFID Premises Server last year. “We’re entering a new phase in RFID adoption, whereby business value is the name of the game,” said Martin Wildberger, Vice President, Sensors and Actuators Leader for IBM. “As initial RFID deployments begin to evolve into large scale productions, RFID solutions must drive new business value, return on investment and business process flexibility and innovation. 

RFCode announced this month that its RFID solutions have been certified for use in IBM’s Websphere and Tivoli Asset Management software. 

With the growing availability of data center RFID solutions, the Financial Services Technology Consortium recently launched an initiative to develop a roadmap for industry adoption of RFID tracking. “Banking could be a real leader in data centers (adopting RFID),” John Fricke, the FSTC’s chief of staff, said at a recent industry event.

Bank of America’s William Conroy agreed. “We have incredible IT demands, and keeping track of servers is not something that we compete (with other banks) on,” Conroy told RFID Journal. “So we’d like to drive the entire industry as a group.”

RFID in the data center has not been without controversy. In 2006 Cincinnati video surveillance company CityWatcher.com began implanting employees with Verichip RFID microchips to manage access to the company’s data center. A number of states have since passed laws to prevent companies from forcibly “chipping” employees with RFID tags.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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  1. The company the FSTC hired directly to create the data center standard was ODIN. (www.odintechnologies) who are also working with many of the major banks on the RFID initiatives in data centers.

  2. Bank of America is using the FSTC compliant Confidex Steelwave-Micro RFID to tag their servers.