Shop-Vac Ditches IBM, Taps CYBRA for Native i OS RFID Software
October 28, 2008 Alex Woodie
Shop-Vac, the Pennsylvania-based manufacturer of wet-dry vacuum cleaners and one of Wal-Mart’s 600 biggest suppliers, recently ditched a non i OS-based RFID application from IBM in exchange for CYBRA‘s native System i-based RFID software, the New York software vendor announced last week.
When it came time for Shop-Vac to comply with Wal-Mart’s RFID mandate several years ago, the well-known manufacturer of blue-collar tools figured it could do much worse than turning to Big Blue itself. After all, IBM developed the robust midrange server that ran Shop-Vac’s critical business applications, including Infor‘s BPCS (ERP XA) for manufacturing and Manhattan Associates‘ PKMS (Transportation Execution) software. How could it go wrong by picking IBM?
So Shop-Vac installed IBM’s WebSphere RFID Premises Server, a Java-based product that runs on Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems. Shop-Vac would have preferred a native i5/OS RFID application, but at the time there wasn’t one; IBM considered it too much work to develop a “niche” product like RFID for i5/OS.
Over time, Shop-Vac began to regret its decision to install WebSphere RFID Premises Server–especially after CYBRA announced a native i5/OS RFID solution a year ago–so the company re-thought its RFID investment.
Mike McConnell, a programmer/analyst at Shop-Vac, explains the decision that led Shop-Vac to ditch IBM’s RFID software in exchange for CYBRA’s native i OS RFID software, called EdgeMagic.
“When we first investigated RFID for EPC compliance there was no native IBM System i solution on the market,” he says. “As a result we installed IBM WebSphere RFID Premises Server which does not run on the IBM midrange server.
“When I learned of CYBRA’s native solution, I became convinced that EdgeMagic offered Shop-Vac a more fully functional System i implementation,” he continues. “EdgeMagic interfaces directly with (BPCS and Manhattan Associates). The EdgeMagic product supports Alien fixed readers, Symbol mobile readers, and Zebra RFID printers, the same hardware as WebSphere RFID Premises Server. So by replacing the IBM product with the CYBRA product we gained a significant amount of flexibility particularly with regard to System i application software integration. EdgeMagic allows my team to add new functions with ease.”
Harold Brand, president and CEO of CYBRA, says stories like Shop-Vac’s are not uncommon. “System i customers overwhelmingly prefer the System i to PC for RFID for obvious reasons,” he says.” The things that the System i excels at: generating EPC codes, printing RFID smart labels, generating manifests, defining business rules, and storing configurations are easier to manage on the System i because that’s where the order and product information is.”
On top of that, add the System i’s superior high availability, security, simplified systems management, and server consolidation, “and long time System i customers see RFID as a business application that needs to be hosted on the same platform,” Brand continues. “Shop-Vac recognized this value and replaced the IBM WebSphere RFID Premises Server with EdgeMagic precisely because it runs on the IBM System i server.”