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RFID for Data Centers

Pressure is rapidly mounting on CIOs, IT staffers and data center managers to enhance the security of their IT assets, increase regulatory compliance, improve auditing procedures and reduce the costs associated with IT asset management.

RFID is fast becoming the technology of choice for streamlining these functions – and Vizinex RFID is at the forefront of these efforts.

Why RFID IT Asset Management?

One would think the assets in a data center would be static and easy to monitor. In practice, this isn’t the case. Data centers may be expanded to add more capability or capacity, consolidated from older, less efficient facilities, or reorganized to address electrical/cooling requirements. In addition, the engineering team will often relocate assets to improve workflows or to develop applications for specific customers. Tracking the movements, ownership, and lifecycles of these assets through these changes is a difficult problem.

Until recently, using barcodes and lots of people with hand scanners was the technology of choice. Unfortunately, this was time-consuming, error-prone and, ultimately, expensive. Improvements in RFID tags and readers, and the advent of sophisticated data center IT asset management software, are reducing the time and effort needed for this task. RFID IT asset management – using RFID tags and either handheld readers or mobile carts – is significantly more efficient, more accurate and less costly than barcode IT asset management.

One Vizinex customer reported that it took 3-4 weeks to inventory 5,000 assets with their bar code system. Switching to Vizinex RFID tags reduced this to 4-6 hours, in addition to cutting error rates by 30 percent.

How RFID IT Asset Management Works

In data center RFID deployments, passive UHF RFID tags are typically mounted on the front bezel of each IT device. The tag’s unique identifier is linked in a database to the device’s ID. This database contains information about the device’s make and model, purchase and “in service” date, as well as any maintenance that has been performed on the unit. Also contained in the database may be financial information about the device, its useful/expected/financial life, its end-of-life date and rack level location information. Data about the devices is also maintained when they are taken out of service, using RFID portals at warehouse locations to record when devices are taken to or from the warehouse.

Proper tag selection for data centers is critical to the success of an RFID IT asset management implementation. Most users want tags that read reliably at 7-10 feet. Longer read ranges cause readers to detect the tags of devices that are mounted in racks other than the one being surveyed; shorter read ranges may cause tags in the rack under scrutiny to be missed.

In addition, tags for RFID IT asset management must be capable of working properly despite a substantial amount of metal in the close environment. While many IT devices have plastic front covers, there is almost always metal close behind these covers, which will cause many UHF RFID tags to perform poorly. Selecting a multi-surface tag, which performs consistently when mounted either on metal or non-metal, generally provides the best results.

Considering RFID IT asset management for your data center? Contact Vizinex RFID today.