One of the most compelling uses of RFID technology is in the data center, where you have a dense population of expensive, mission-critical assets that must be tracked. Because RFID technology allows you to read multiple tags simultaneously, having densely racked assets really allows the technology to show off its capabilities. Using handheld or mobile RFID readers, racks of equipment can be inventoried in seconds. Misplaced equipment can be easily located by waving the reader past each rack to determine which one it is in without having to individually read serial numbers or asset tags.
Data center staff are typically not employed to maintain IT asset inventories, yet they are ultimately responsible for accounting for hardware and the data they contain. The hardware and the valuable data contained on servers is essential to ensuring tracking visibility and regulatory compliance. By accurately identifying the equipment’s location, staff can easily track down equipment requiring maintenance or upgrades, equipment whose lease is up, or equipment that is no longer being used to reduce power consumption and heat in the data center.
Specialized RFID tags enable small devices such as blade servers to be read without pulling them out the racks. Data center assets can be tracked by walking around with handheld RFID readers and by placing fixed readers at entry/exit points and other strategic locations to track the movement of equipment. Server tracking can also be completely automated with RFID by implementing fixed RFID readers for real-time visibility of equipment in each cabinet/rack.
Some IT vendors such as Dell, HP, IBM, Cisco, and others are beginning to offer services to tag equipment with RFID tags prior to shipping to the customer. This not only eliminates the need for customers to tag equipment, it can help automate the internal receiving, provisioning, and deployment processes.