Asset tracking for enterprises made simpler

The first thing that almost every enterprise does in tracking assets wirelessly is pick the client tracking device. It's the wrong thing to do, says Michael Campbell, CEO of Sensor Logic.

The first thing that almost every enterprise does in tracking assets wirelessly is pick the client tracking device. It's the wrong thing to do, says Michael Campbell, CEO of Sensor Logic, which offers a hosted asset tracking platform called Cirrus.

The company made two announcements this week to make asset tracking easier for enterprise customers. First, the hosted platform now lets developers use a broader array of Web application frameworks to create their own applications, along with new Web services for integrating existing data and programs. Second, Sensor Logic now offers a trio of basic, ready-to-run asset tracking applications of its own, each aimed at a specific vertical market.

A New Hope in a New Decade

Campbell has been CEO for about a year, spending a lot of that time talking with customers and prospects. "The first thing I learned, is that in almost every decision on asset tracking, they go first to find a tracking device -- the hardware," he says. "They tend to assume it magically comes with network connectivity [wired or wireless] and with an application. But neither of those assumptions is true."

Typically, he says, a tracking device will be certified for a given network. "But when you ask 'what's your back-end [system]?' or 'what's your application?' customers don't have an answer," he says.

Founded in 2002, venture-backed Sensor Logic first focused on implementing custom, large-scale industrial sensor deployments, part of the machine-to-machine market, monitoring fixed assets. In the last two years, the company has recast its software as a hosted service that systems integrators and enterprise developers can use as the core of new tracking and monitoring applications, which are increasingly for mobile assets. It's targeting commercial asset tracking requirements in retail consumer electronics, consumer packaged goods, healthcare and security markets.

Cirrus offers the underlying software "plumbing" components as a hosted service to create, implement, run and manage an application, for example, to track pallets from a warehouse to a specific retail store location. The components include infrastructure features such as network connectivity and device management; a set of extensible services such as alerts, geolocation and data filtering; and application frameworks, including Sensor Logic's own pre-built widgets and APIs.

With this week's announcement, Sensor Logic lets software developers use a greater array of Web application development frameworks and tools, including Struts, Drupal, Perl, Ruby on Rails, Grails and Google Web Toolkit. Previously Cirrus also supported Microsoft .Net. The core platform components were also beefed up to support much larger applications, and many more tracked assets.

The new Web Services APIs make it much easier to integrate Cirrus-based tracking applications with existing back-end enterprise applications.

For three areas -- security assets, commercial/retail assets and vehicle tracking -- Sensor Logic is introducing a basic tracking application that enterprises can deploy quickly. The application, tailored for each market, is preconfigured, works with a wide array of client tracking gear, and can be deployed globally. Each application can be personalized for a given customer deployment, according to Campbell.

Campbell says that one Fortune 100 company, which he won't name, is deploying one of these ready-to-run applications to know at once when a freight pallet is loaded onto the wrong truck. "It's a very simple problem, but they will save millions of dollars a month as a result of this deployment," he says.

Pricing is per tracked asset, such as a pallet or shipping container, and depends on several variables, including what parts of the hosted platform the customer makes use of. Pricing can be as low as $35 per year per tracked asset. The price for one of the new ready-to-run tracking applications is up to $120 per year per tracked asset. Volume discounts are available.

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John Cox

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