PALO ALTO, CALIF. — RFID (define) has already proven itself a
supply chain asset to help manufacturers and retailers keep track of
merchandise, so why not apply the concept to the data center?
The potential is appealing because it would help IT managers keep track
of changes in server racks when something is moved, not working, or to
facilitate real-time asset management.
“The way a lot of companies do it now is once or twice a year where
someone physically has to view each server and copy down the information on
a clipboard, then enter that information into a database or spreadsheet,”
Cyril Brignone, a Project Manager at HP Laboratories, told
internetnews.com. “It’s very inefficient.”
Adding RFID tags hasn’t been a practical solution because there is
typically too much interference in a server rack for the chip’s radio
frequency to work reliably. But HP Lab’s developed a custom RFID reader it
said overcomes the problem, along with a graphical software interface to
track server assets.
In a demonstration, Brignone showed how, when a server rack door is
opened, a remote terminal display of the server layout shows the open door.
Similarly, the graphic of a server rack lights up where an individual rack
HP is still working on how it plans to commercialize the technology and
plans further testing with potential customers. Grocery chain Meijer, with
almost 600 production servers, was one company HP has already used as an
early tester with good results.
“Being a good retailer, we were familiar with what RFID could do, so we
were interested in what HP had,” Tim Osbeck, manager of operations and
technical support at Meijer, told internetnews.com.
Osbeck said Meijer didn’t have a specific problem with server inventory
control, but he liked the HP solution from a security point of view and as a
way to get much more current information on the whereabouts of his IT
“Today, we keep a lot of information collected manually on spreadsheets,”
said Osbeck. “That could go all away with what HP’s developed. Also, I like
Just how HP will price the technology and it what form remains to be
seen. Osbeck said price would be a factor for his company in any decision.
“If it’s $100,000, we’re not interested, but if it’s a $5,000 add-on, we
Brignone said HP will also experiment further with the interface and
connections to enterprise software. Last year HP purchased IT management specialist Peregrine, which Brignone said would be one of
many logical integration points HP is looking at.