Finding Lost IT With RFID

Slashdot runs a discussion named Finding Lost IT With RFID.

Their summary: "Vendors are increasingly trying to sell users on the idea that they need to stick RFID tags on IT equipment to keep track of it. Users are interested in this technology because they would much rather automate inventory tracking then go server-to-server with a bar code scanner and clipboard. But the new push for RFID tags in data centers also hints at a larger issue: There may be a significant amount of equipment that can't be located. And while out-of-sight, out-of-mind is not always bad, there's a least one nagging problem: 'Ghost server' systems, which may still be drawing power but perform no work and may be difficult to locate. One vendor at the Afcom data center conference suggests IT shops get some 'GPS for your assets.'"

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  1. Doesn’t about every IT device need to be plugged into a switch or talk to a wireless access point? It would seem the only reason to stick an RFID tag on something is that it could be done when the device is received and before it is turned on.

    I suppose with virtual machines, some blades or devices could shutdown and be sneaked out of the data center, but that seems more of a software monitoring problem than a physical inventory problem

    I didn’t look up the two companies mentioned in the article. Do the RFID devices know where they are at the aisle level? the rack level? the rack row level?

    Edit for clarity

    • I’m no expert, but I tend to believe there’s plenty of ‘IT devices’ that aren’t network connected and could benefit from RFID location capabilities. Disconnected hard drives, cameras, scanners (while off), unused screens, wacom tablets, disconnected computers (we have quite a few at my workplace), etc.

      I guess the point is that passive RFID chips are very cheap (a few cents IIRC) and small so they can easily by glued to many types of devices to help out inventories. Read the links regarding mandatory use of RFID at Walmart or search for previous RFID stories.

      The range of passive RFID is fairly small, 2-3 meters (I’m no expert and haven’t validated these numbers), but that’s good enough if you simply want to ‘scan a room’ to list what’s in there or not.