How SOA Can Help with RFID, Sensor Data

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Did you ever have one of those moments where you're reading something and you think it's really cool, then you realize: "Wow. I am such a total geek."


Embrace it, I say.


My most recent bout of such-a-geekitis hit when I found this white paper, "Integrating Sensors And RFID Into An Enterprise With SOA." I've always been a bit of a sucker for RFID and sensor technology anyway -- it appeals to both my love of order-in-design and my paranoia about being monitored. And SOA, well, it's always fun to see new ideas on ways loosely-coupled architecture can be applied to business problems.


Fair warning, though: This is a vendor-sponsored white paper, and what it's peddling is Sybase RFID Anywhere, a sensor software middleware or "infrastructure," as it's called in the paper. Still, as white papers go, it's a pretty soft sell, wrapped nicely in lots of useful, concise information about how service-oriented architecture can make it easier to use data from RFID and other sensor technologies.


Sensors are defined as any "information-gathering devices such as RFID readers and tags, bar-code readers, location-tracking systems, temperature and pressure sensors, and any mobile device that performs one of these, or similar, functions."


At this point, like me, you may suspiciously be wondering what's so special about SOA when it comes to sensors.


You know, of course, that sensors generate large amounts of data, much of it useless to most applications. So, sensor software uses a publish/subscribe messaging approach -- it publishes all the data to a specific location, basically allowing applications to come and get it as they will.


SOA allows applications to call data, without respect to format. So, services can be set up to retrieve the sensor data as needed and share it among services.


I'm over-generalizing, of course. There's a lot more to it. You can get the specifics, including a list of issues to consider when purchasing sensor software infrastructure, by downloading the 11-page document. It's free, though you will need to fill out a short form requesting basic contact information.


If you use or are considering using sensor technology, it's well worth reviewing, particularly with an eye toward your SOA return-on-investment analysis.