The Fortune 100 company, a $50 billion computer product developer, relies on Xerafy RFID tags to manage its 17 data centers around the world.
The company's Program Manager who led the implementation of RFID tracking for 60,000 IT assets in more than 900 rooms worldwide, shares his advice for the successful deployment of RFID for Data Center Management
"The accuracy of our IT asset database was abysmal before RFID,” he tells us. “We only had information for 70 to 80 percent of the fields we wanted to complete, and our location accuracy was even worse.”
The company previously tracked IT assets with paper forms and bar code readers, depending on the facility. The processes were so time-consuming that complete asset audits were impossible. Instead, the company would audit 10 percent of the assets in any given data center quarterly, and extrapolate an inventory report based on the results.
The RFID system slashed the time needed to take inventory – so much that the company can now identify all of its assets, instead of a 10 percent sample, and perform audits more often to keep records up to date.
"Inventory is almost immediate. I can do a whole room with RFID in less time than it used to take to inventory 10 percent of the items manually. Plus, I have 99 percent accuracy in my asset database."
1. Follow Best Practices
There have been a lot of RFID success stories for IT asset management. Learn from them and don’t reinvent the wheel. Work with experienced solution providers, and follow the best practices and recommendations created by impartial industry associations such as the FSTC (Financial Services Technology Consortium).
Training is important for best practices to become adopted throughout the organization. When the Program Manager toured the company data centers, he found that slight differences in how workers used handheld RFID readers made a big difference in their productivity. After watching one colleague take five minutes to inventory a room, the Program Manager demonstrated how it could be done in 30 seconds.
2. Be Prepared For A Lot More Information
Xerafy helped this Fortune 100 company to find more assets, and to capture complete information on each one.
Inventory processes are now so fast and require so little labor time that the company conducts audits more often. This all adds up to more data going into databases and software applications. Legacy systems often aren’t prepared to handle the amount of data that IT systems provide, so planning, testing, and integration are essential.
3. Select Your Tags Carefully
The Program Manager evaluated many tags, from several vendors, before selecting Xerafy. He rates size and sensitivity as the most important tag attributes for IT asset tracking.
“Some tags had larger antenna so you could read them from farther away. That’s not what you need in a data center, because when you’re reading a rack you don’t want to get spillover from four racks away. The system is allowing me to have an accurate picture of where assets are in a room. I can isolate a server to a rack in a large data center in 77 seconds; it used to take 5 minutes.”
After a thorough investigation, the company selected Xerafy’s Pico read-on-metal tags, which meet EPCglobal Gen 2 and FSTC standards and can be tuned for optimal performance in data centers all around the world. The tags have provided outstanding performance and accuracy, even when inventory is being taken in rooms with thousands of tagged assets with hardly any space between them.
"Xerafy had the smallest tags, and they were willing to work with us on tuning so we could get exactly what we needed. We needed that size and flexibility to make this work.”
4. Think Total Assets, Total Lifecycle
The Program Manager now plans to get more value out of its RFID program by being creative so it can track more assets, and to track them throughout the entire lifecycle.
Think beyond the office or the data center – products like Titanium Metal Skin and other Xerafy innovations are making it practical to track smartphones and other mobile assets. And innovation comes from services as well, with the company now taking advantage of source-tagging, with all new equipment it purchases from its IT suppliers arriving with pre-encoded RFID tags already applied.