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Oracle showcases RFID partners, to launch data hub

Oracle Corp. is rolling out service and software packages designed to walk companies through an initial RFID deployment.

CHICAGO -- Oracle Corp. is partnering with a hardware vendor to launch a product that addresses initial radio frequency identification (RFID) deployments.

Oracle and RFID appliance vendor Xpaseo Inc. will offer a combined software and hardware package for managing an RFID deployment. Milpitas, Calif.-based Xpaseo will embed components of Oracle Sensor-Based Services into its XGate devices to help companies implement and manage ongoing operations.

Aimed mainly at companies with an Oracle infrastructure, Oracle Sensor-Based Services uses features in Oracle Application Server 10g and Database 10g to capture, manage, analyze and access data from RFID tags. The Xpaseo package allows customers to manage an RFID network from a single interface.

Oracle made the announcement at the RFID Journal Live conference being held this week. More than 1,000 attendees are taking part in the three-day conference, which addresses the challenges and pitfalls in deploying RFID technology.

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Oracle began shipping its updated warehouse management software with support for RFID technology last year. Allyson Fryhoff, vice president of Oracle Sensor-Based Services , said her company is focusing broadly on RFID and developing technologies that support sensors that collect various types of data, including temperature, location, vibration and oxygen readings.

Oracle's RFID and sensor products are similar to SAP's Auto-ID products, which support RFID as part of the German software maker's event management and supply chain management software. The technology is built on SAP's Web Application Server.

While RFID is a promising emerging technology, businesses get the most help out of their IT investments by collecting and analyzing data from a variety of sensors, Fryhoff said .

"You want to know not only the identity of something, you probably also want to know its condition, status, state and location," Fryhoff said. "That information is really going to drive your business."

The company also plans to expand its data hub concept to support sensor based technologies and RFID. Announced at Oracle OpenWorld last year, the data hub model consolidates data from disparate systems into a central repository. Four new hubs will be launched over the next year to address product data, financial consolidation data and financial services accounting data.

Fryhoff said developers have been addressing the massive volumes of data that enter systems using RFID technology. Oracle is highlighting its Edge Server, which provisions part or all of the RFID data being processed. Oracle's Edge Server, which is packaged with Oracle Application Server 10g, manages sensors and other automated identification methods, including RFID.

"The idea has been to look across Oracle's infrastructure product set as well as its application product set to see where this converging RFID sensor technology can be used," Fryhoff said.

Analysts said Xpaseo makes a good fit with Oracle, since its middleware appliances are built on Oracle infrastructure. Current middleware products will likely be absorbed into application suites sold by large ERP vendors, according to Dennis Gaughan, a research director at AMR Research.

RFID middleware connects the supply chain data collected by tag readers to a company's applications. The market will experience consolidation, Gaughan said.

Oracle also announced Monday that it was shifting its consulting services through a Sensor-Based Services initiative in the Oracle PartnerNetwork. Systems integrators and independent software vendors will receive training to deploy Oracle RFID technology.

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