May 2, 2005
By Galen Gruman, editorial director, IT Wireless
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The Latest in Wireless Products and Tech

Sybase and Oracle have both announced infrastructure software to enable radiofrequency identification (RFID) deployments:

  • Sybase has announced the availability of its new end-to-end RFID Enterprise software, which lets companies integrate data from RFID devices seamlessly with enterprise data management environments, so companies can track and manage resources, items and products more effectively and fully integrate with their enterprise applications.
  • Meanwhile, Oracle announced a partnership with Intel to develop a service-oriented enterprise framework to ease the adoption and deployment of RFID technology within the enterprise. The solution will combine Oracle's 10g Database and E-Business Suite with Intel processor-based hardware to facilitate the integration of raw RFID data into enterprise-management systems. Oracle also launched the Sensor-Based Services Initiative, which packages a variety of Oracle RFID solutions such as its Engineering, Procurement & Construction (EPC) Compliance Enabler and an RFID/EPC pilot kit with support from Oracle E-Business Suite.

Several vendors have released tools to increase security in wireless environments:

  • Senforce Technologies has released Senforce Connectivity Control software that ensures all endpoint devices including desktops, notebooks, and tablet PCs will remain in constant compliance with government security mandates, including key aspects of the DoD Directive 8100.2, which specifies the security requirements and responsibilities governing the use of commercial Wi-Fi devices, services, technologies, and networks. Senforce Connectivity Control is also an enabling technology for civilian agencies implementing Federal Telework Programs and looking for ways to enforce remote access policies. Automatic capabilities include preventing or disabling "at risk" networking behavior, such as network adapter bridging; controlling Wi-Fi usage by network location; disabling Wi-Fi connectivity when using wired LANs; disallowing Wi-Fi ad hoc network connections by location; and enforcing use of Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) or Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) on all Wi-Fi connections.
  • Check Point Software has released the VPN-1 Edge Wireless enterprise firewall/VPN appliance to let enterprises deploy and centrally manage their network security policies in multiple locations, including applying corporate security policies to wireless networks.
  • eEye Digital Security has released a free utility that discovers all active wireless devices and connections on a company network, enabling security teams to detect wireless access devices, scan for service and generate detailed reports on wireless security on such items as WEP strength.
  • Cirond plans to release enterprise solutions to combat the "WiPhishing" and related "evil twin" security vulnerabilities in which wireless client devices are hijacked.

In hot-spot news:

  • Pronto Networks and Sprint will let each other's customers roam across each other's public Wi-Fi networks.
  • SBC has announced a new service package that gives mobile workers wireless remote access to their corporate VPN so they can access business network applications and information, not just e-mail and Internet access.

In other product news:

  • PCTel's Antenna Products Group has released a new line of multiple band antennas designed to operate with dual-band or wideband RF radios transmitting in multiple microwave frequencies. The new product portfolio includes a high-gain omnidirectional mast-mount antenna and a high-gain directional panel antenna for outdoor installations, plus four in-building wireless-data-antenna models. All the models cover 2.4GHz to 2.48GHz and 4.94GHz to 5.85GHz frequencies. The company has also the new Sharkfin antenna series for telematics applications.
  • WhereNet has announced general availability of the WhereNet Marine Terminal Solution, which combines business intelligence, sensor data, and sophisticated algorithms to serve as the "eyes and ears" of the terminal operating system, providing constant visibility and status information and automating the work flow for marine terminal operators. The system uses active transponders and wireless networks to track and locate palettes and other cargo containers.
  • Adesso Systems has upgraded its Instant Mobility Platform to include extensibility enhancements that enable the integration of external, standards-based plug-ins and .Net components into Adesso-based applications, as well as new file synchronization, user-interface personalization, more powerful scheduling capability, Oracle database support, and interactive reporting and instant surveys that will let businesses quickly deploy field applications that reflect the unique processes and brand attributes of their business and still be adaptive to changing business conditions, governmental regulations, or market trends, the company claims.
  • iAnywhere Solutions has announced that its AvantGo mobile Internet service will be available on BlackBerry devices.

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The Latest in the Wireless Marketplace

ABI: Telematics Interest Forces New Products

According to new research from ABI Research, increasing fleet owner interest in trailer tracking and monitoring solutions has telematics vendors scrambling to introduce new, specialized telematics equipment. The study finds that the industry has evolved to the point where telematics systems vendors are now providing specialized hardware for specific types of trailers besides the common dry van, such as refrigerated and flatbed trailers, and even intermodal cargo containers.

"We are seeing this newfound interest in trailer tracking and monitoring coming from several areas," says Frank Viquez, ABI Research's director of automotive research. "Homeland security has been a big motivator among fleet owners and will remain so, but other factors include the replacement of analog-based telematics hardware with digital, a readily realized return on investment for hardware, and the use of telematics as a differentiator for major truckload carriers to improve their efficiency and customer service efforts." One of the largest commercial deployments so far this year has been in North America, where Schneider National will outfit all of its 48,000 trailers with Qualcomm's new T2 trailer tracking hardware.

ABI Research cautions industry participants that markets are in differing stages of growth around the world. For example in Europe, the EU's growing pains are temporarily stalling hardware vendor efforts until standards for a harmonized road-tolling infrastructure and equipment can be realized. In the Middle East and Africa, adoption continues to increase but will pale in comparison to some emerging Asian regions, including India and China.

ABI: RFID Gets Pharmaceuticals' Attention

Drug counterfeiting may cost the worldwide pharmaceutical industry more than $30 billion annually, and the use of RFID could help reduce that counterfeiting, asserts ABI in a recent report. Some companies are embracing RFID tagging of drug shipments at the item level. At least three major manufacturers Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, and Purdue Pharma have announced plans to tag their products.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recommended tracking in the pharmaceutical supply chain, and state governments in the U.S. beginning with Florida and California are starting to mandate "pedigrees": verification of drug shipments' integrity from manufacturer to retailer. While none of these initiatives requires the use of RFID, they do recommend it.

According to ABI analyst Sara Shah, the state pedigrees, which will take effect over the next two years, are pushing companies to adopt RFID. "While RFID will address patient safety issues," says Shah, "it will also bring down costs for pharmaceutical companies. Tagging items through the supply chain provides increased visibility and enables executives to make better and timelier business decisions."

Now that the EPCglobal standard for RFID tag data has been ratified, Shah believes, high-volume production will see tag prices start to fall in the third quarter of 2005. "With the industry losing $2 billion due to overstock and expiry and $30 billion due to counterfeiting, there is an opportunity for RFID to right the ship," she says. "Supply chain visibility and real-time data-driven supply chain information-sharing solutions can help troubled pharmaceutical makers, distributors, and retailers to strengthen performance."


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