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Case Studies

How a Top Social Media Company Improved Data Center Asset Tracking With RFID

One of the world’s most popular social networking sites needed a way to improve utilization of data center assets. Vizinex RFID and Asset Vue came through.

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With 750 million active users, the social networking firm’s data center requires a large number of solid-state drives to handle the massive amount of user and application data. The problem was that the company’s IT team was challenged to know the inventory levels of drives they had remaining for use.

The data center relied on manual processes to track asset utilization but the data these provided was limited. As a result, they didn’t have sufficient visibility to identify when utilization levels hit the reorder point that required them to order more inventory.

This posed a significant problem. If they were caught underprepared during a spike in traffic, the data center would be unable to manage the incoming data, potentially causing downtime.

In 2017, the data center team decided they needed to modernize their asset tracking and gain better visibility. They would need a technology solution that could identify data center assets rapidly and accurately.

Finding the Right Partners

While researching paths to improvement, the company found an integrated solution from Asset Vue, an IT asset management company with offerings tailored to the needs of data centers – and Vizinex, an RFID tag manufacturer with a line of tags well-suited for tagging the type of assets deployed by data centers.

For data centers, RFID (radio frequency identification) provides an automated way to identify and locate IT assets – like solid state drives – in seconds. The technology relies on radio waves to automate data collection, enabling users to easily track an asset’s location and utilization.

After seeing the potential of RFID technology, the social media company partnered with Vizinex and Asset Vue to build a system that could automate and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their asset management processes.

Designing the Solution

Deploying RFID requires three components:

  • A tag that gets mounted on an asset
  • A reader that collects information from the tags in relays it to the database
  • Specialized software that receives data from the reader and presents it in a way that enables workers and managers to make better, more informed decisions

Asset Vue provided the tracking capabilities through their IT asset management system – Asset Vue Inventory – as well as their Smart Cabinets for reading the tags. The smart cabinets function as portal readers that automate the reading of tags as they enter or exit storage.

Asset Vue also modified their software APIs and portal methodology to meet the unique requirements of the social media company’s business processes.

Vizinex provided RFID tags that met a number of critical process-related requirements:

  • Mount-on-metal compatibility
  • Ability to perform in environments with heavy metallic interference
  • Small enough footprint to fit on the asset without covering critical components
  • Delivering a sufficient read range

Vizinex was able to meet every requirement with only one tag – the Sentry 2607. A small footprint, low profile, mount-on-metal tag, the Sentry 2607 provided high read range (up to 7 feet) in a small form factor.

Asset Security

In addition to improving asset utilization, the company also wanted to elevate the security protocols for their hard drives. A single drive could compromise the personal information for tens of thousands of users, creating significant regulatory and financial liability.

Asset Vue and Vizinex’s solution offered real-time location monitoring of assets that made drive security much easier to enforce. If someone removed a drive from a designated location, the asset management system would create an alert to notify personnel.

Getting Results

Within a few months, the social media company implemented their new RFID system for every hard drive in their data center.

The process of tagging their large portfolio of assets took time. But after deploying the solution, the company saw an immediate, positive impact on their operations.

Working with RFID allowed the social media company to streamline their asset tracking process and gain better insight into asset utilization levels. It gave them full visibility into their inventory, reducing the possibility of shortages or downtime without holding excessive buffer stocks. RFID also improved security and reduced the potential liability associated with misplaced customer information.

The ability to manage customer data is crucial to the success of data centers. They need systems that ensure there is enough storage capacity to avoid degradations in service levels, and they need to ensure the security of their customers’ data. By using a well-designed RFID system, data centers can achieve both goals and can streamline their asset management processes as well.

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