RFID's implications 'need careful assessment'

Security threats, massive amounts of data being generated and the need for extra bandwidth could all cause network meltdown in the wake of and RFID rollout, according to IDC

Enterprises planning on an RFID rollout should take a second look at their network infrastructure, according to analysts.

A whitepaper from research firm IDC, sponsored by Cisco, claims that firms need not only to consider the bandwidth-guzzling potential of an RFID rollout but also the implications the tracking technology will have on architecture, storage, routing and security.

"Our research shows that organisations must start thinking now about the impact of RFID on the network when they implement and integrate with larger RFID systems. Scalability is a function of network architecture, not simply a matter of adding routers and switches, and it must be planned," the report says.

Typically, the analyst house believes, businesses may not have considered the impact of tracking on the various elements of their network because most rollouts are currently at pilot stage and undertaken with commercial partners who help to absorb network shocks.

Companies that are on the verge of rolling out the technology will find themselves inundated with data when they go live — the data stored on the tag, including the details of the items or cases being tracked, will need to be recorded as well as the records of the item tag being read.

To address storage concerns, the report recommends a SAN for its capability to "pool networked storage resources, as well as building in a high degree of resilience, security and business continuity to the network infrastructure".

Network security should also be addressed as a priority, the whitepaper recommends.

"The exchange of sensitive product data over the network between organisations that may have no direct commercial relationship creates security concerns. The network itself must be secure, logical data access to product information must be authorised... and physical access to tags, readers and other assets must be controlled. Equally vulnerable is the network at companies' distribution centres, warehouses, and store rooms."