RFID Global Solution CEO Diana Hage

ROI and the Data Center

March 06, 2012

Large enterprise data centers often contain hundreds of thousands of servers, routers and pieces of IT equipment. Tracking these highly mobile and high value assets is a time-consuming and labor-intensive task. Servers, hard drives and external media are moved in and out of the data center for commissioning, upgrades, or moves, adds and changes. Laptops, tablets, smartphones, and backup tapes move frequently within a facility and into and out of data halls. Tracking these assets is mandatory — government regulations require enterprises to track IT assets in order to protect sensitive customer data and comply with tax laws.

Today, many data center operations still rely on manual procedures to track inventory. Temporary personnel are hired and trained to conduct inventory counts, taking note of asset information, from serial numbers to associated software licenses. This requires physical handling of assets, and manual counting. As information is manually compiled and entered into a laptop or mobile device, or later entered into a corporate information system, opportunities for error are introduced. Bar codes on IT assets improve the process of accurately capturing serial number information. However, bar codes require a clear line of sight from a scanner to the bar code label, which causes an inefficient process as bar codes are frequently positioned on the back of rack-mounted servers. The result is an intensively manual, time consuming and expensive inventory process.

Compliance with security regulations and tax laws also drives the need for a more efficient, automated IT asset inventory process. From a security perspective, enterprises must be able to provide a complete audit trail of the movement of all assets that contain personal consumer information through the entire asset lifecycle — from the time an asset is placed into service to the time it is retired. Lack of real-time visibility of movements can prevent the discovery of a missing asset, whether from an unauthorized or undocumented asset movement, or from theft of an IT asset, increasing the risk of a data breach — an expensive event that could result in monetary fines and brand damage. An accurate, periodic inventory of all business assets is required to comply with tax laws, such as Sarbanes-Oxley in the US, that govern the accurate accounting and depreciation of all business assets.

Industry standards require companies to protect their customer’s personal data. The Payment Card Industry has established standards for companies that maintain credit card information on file for customers. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) sets security standards for health-related data. Enterprises must be able to account for all movements of all IT assets that contain customer confidential data.

Data center asset management solutions that incorporate RFID technology efficiently solve the above challenges. RFID enables real-time tracking of IT assets throughout the fixed assets lifecycle, with an automated, scalable process that enables better accountability and security.

Our Visi-Trac data center asset management application has been deployed in well over fifty large-scale data centers, enabling complete and accurate inventories of enterprise data centers containing hundreds of thousands of IT servers and covering hundreds of thousands of square feet of space. We have well over one million IT assets under management, using passive RFID as well as active RTLS technology. Inventories of close to one hundred thousand assets are now being conducted in real-time, in a single shift with audit carts and handheld readers using passive RFID, or via continuous monitoring with active technology, instead of the previous month-long, large-team inventory approach. We have the pre- and post-RFID implementation metrics which show the ROI is real, near-term and enormous.

ROI and benefits can be measured in reduced cost and time to conduct data center inventories, improved asset utilization, reduced capital expenditures, greater visibility of IT assets throughout their lifecycle resulting in protection against IT asset and information loss, and more cost effective compliance with government and industry regulations. Cisco Systems has achieved remarkable savings in audit time and reductions in capex spending, and now has a company-wide view of its IT asset inventory, enabling better asset utilization and fiscal control. Allow us to help you achieve similar results - the ROI of RFID in Data Centers is real, tangible and available now.

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WRITER’S BIOGRAPHY

Diana Hage

President & CEO

RFID Global Solution, Inc.

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Learn how to break down barriers to RFID adoption from the industry's most forward-thinking team of solution developers at RFID Global Solution.