RFID Essentials (Theory in Practice (O'Reilly)) Review

RFID Essentials (Theory in Practice (O'Reilly))
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Wanting to get smarter about Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), I welcomed the opportunity to read some new titles on the topic. I started reading the first of these, RFID Essentials by Bill Glover and Himanshu Bhatt (2006, O'Reilly, 276 Pages, ISBN 0596009445), not knowing what to expect. What I walked away with was not only a high level understanding of the technical aspects of RFID, but also an excellent discussion of the compliance, governance, privacy and security issues that surround its expanded growth and use. If there is a title that truly matches its content, this would be it.

The authors write that they undertook this book because there was no title like it on the market: a book that could target readers in between senior management and electrical engineers. As the child of an old-school software engineer with minimal knowledge on the topic, I was eager to accept this as their goal.
The book begins with an introduction to RFID. In doing this, they break down the use of the technology into distinct eras, with the compliance era being the current time frame. Tracking back to the post-war 1940's, they walk through an overview of how RFID came to be with the birth of transistors. Fast-forwarding to the compliance era, driven by vendors such as Wal-Mart, they seek to explain how most RFID-based activities meet up with traditional compliance projects, with the emphasis being on meeting requirements with the lowest total cost of ownership (TCO). They then look at the "could be" as RFID-enabled enterprises come on line. They look at the various RFID application types, considerations for each of these types, and implementation of these types. They conclude this chapter wit an outline of the challenges, as well as some RFID adoption guidelines.
Chapter 2 of the book covers an overview of a "RFID Architecture". In this chapter, the authors walk through sequential items that need to be considered when looking at the implementation of an architecture. If there is an important lesson to be taken from this chapter, it would be the need to focus on business requirements.
Chapter 3 focuses on RFID Tags. They walk through basic tag capabilities, physical characteristics of tags, power sources, the "air interface", and more. They key in on the how and when to use various types of tags. A key understanding of this chapter is to look beyond the hype and at the realities. In chapter 4, they cover tag protocols. This discussion begins with a discussion of RFID Protocol terms and concepts. They then discuss how tags store data, as well as tag features that address security and privacy.
Starting in Chapter 5, the authors begin their discussion of readers and printers. This chapter includes important discussions of the types of readers that are available, and how to determine which ones make the best sense for a RFID implementation. Chapter 6 extends this discussion to include reader protocols.
From a business perspective, Chapter 7 offers insight into the important topic of data integration through middleware. A bit more technical in depth, this chapter covers issues associated with polling and managing the data provided by tags. Aside from the "commercial" for their employer (Sun), they do a good job covering high level discussions of middleware considerations, laced with technical content for systems architects to start their thinking. This line of thought continues in Chapter 8 in their coverage of the RFID Information Service.
Chapter 9 gets into the sensitive topic of manageability. Because RFID lives on the edge and the architecture has the potential to be massive in size, there are a number of areas that need to be planned for, including automation, The authors cover this with discussions of required capabilities, as well a standards and technologies.
Chapter 10 gets into a topic near and dear to my heart: privacy and security. The authors, while discussing the fact that public reaction to RFID is based on a great deal of speculation and misinformation, acknowledge that public perception will win, Without managing that perception with the realities of controls, the enterprise implementing RFID introduces additional risk into the environment. Unlike the authors of another RFID title I will be reviewing this week, they take a low-key, non-reactionary approach to this issue. This allows for the reader to think about the issues without being broad-sided by fear,uncertainty and doubt.
The book wraps up with a discussion of RFID futures in Chapter 11.
Who Should Read This Book?
This book should be read by anybody who needs to get up to speed quickly on RFID technology and issues. This includes business managers and systems architects. It is also an excellent resource for information technology auditors who need to gain in understanding of the technology (in fact, it can serve as the basis for developing the skeleton of a RFID audit plan, fleshed out with more details later.
The book is not designed for high-end tech heads or people who want to look at specific ERP-type applications. It was not written for this audience.
Eagle on a long par 5

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Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) or Near Field Communication (NFC) are rapidly changing the way businesses track inventory and assets. From Wal-Mart and Tesco to the U.S. Department of Defense, early efforts are already showing benefits, but software, integration, and data processing for RFID still present a challenge. If you are a developer or an architect charged with developing an RFID system, this book is for you. Drawing on extensive experience, Bill Glover and Himanshu Bhatt provide you with essential information on this emerging technology. With the knowledge you gain in these pages, you will possess the information and understanding you need to start designing, building, or integrating with RFID systems. In RFID Essentials you will find information on:
Tags and tag protocols, including the Electronic Product Code (EPC)
Readers and reader protocols
RFID middleware
Security and privacy
Managing RFID devices
RFID's impact on your architecture
"The Information Age is over. We're entering an era where network connectivity is almost ubiquitous - it's participate or perish." --Jonathan Schwartz, President and COO, Sun Microsystems, Inc."Unique competitive advantage erupts from enterprises that couple the RFID technologies laid out in RFID Essentials with modern business integration using service-oriented architectures. This is the book to read in order to understand this new landscape." --Mark Bauhaus, Senior Vice President, Sun Microsystems, Inc."This is a must read for RFID Software and Solution architects and is highly recommended for anyone needing to gain more insight into the myriad of components, standards and technologies that make up an RFID solutions environment." --Bryan Tracey, Chief Architect, GlobeRanger Corporation"The authors have done a commendable job of covering a lot of ground in the RFID space, including the infrastructure needed to share the volumes of data RFID will likely generate." --Graham Gillen, Senior Product Manager, VeriSign

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