Rich opportunities continue to emerge in the B2Bi sector. The reshuffling of the leader VANs will keep the gossip percolating for years to come, ie., ‘where were you when Inovis went to the dark side”, etc.?
The répertoire of communications offerings in the EDI sector has remained fairly static, while innovations truly worthy of mention are almost exclusively the province of smaller, agile companies. Any company today can deliver services to the market, without the need to own a data center. For example: It was once considered an asset for the well appointed service provider to own their facilities; but such a misallocation of assets is now equated with the squandering of precious resources for all but the largest Web Scale ventures.
Certified Colocation facilities are the rational resource for EDI communications providers. Owning a physical data center infrastructure built to the standards of a Sungard or Intermap is beyond the ability of most companies, while Cloud provisioning goes a step further – proving that the real estate and hardware ownership tied up in data centers, even ‘physicality’, is no longer a prerequisite for going to market with a great B2B service. I bring up these topics to illustrate that conventional wisdom may be rendered obsolete by the forward march of technology. Who is large, who can scale, who is reliable? Companies that seem large and well financed may be no more than empty husks, over-provisioned and overstaffed staffed, considering the actual value of the services they bring to market. A word to the wise: before making any judgements regarding services and facilities, take experience and innovation into account as well – and a word to the initiated shall suffice.
Loren Data Corp’s “pure play” communications philosophy offers specialized network management via methods preferred by professional B2B service providers: APIs, enhanced network services, a node based architecture, autonomous network configuration, etc. ECGrid’s architectural features are code-based assets written, maintained, and continuously improved to serve demanding multitenant B2B ventures. The rare exceptions are certain client’s that operate in the role of service provider to vertical trading communities.
Service Providers of the new era may have thousands of clients and manage hundreds of thousands of EDI Network identities, which demands forward looking network services. Stalwart B2B innovators break the model of standard EDI communications offerings. Such ventures are better served using an advanced network infrastructure specifically designed for their needs. This is what ECGrid delivers: message routing, partner management, and advanced internetwork support. This is what we do. However, data handling tools and transformation services have been an open question for us. Until now.
We do not service the end user (Corporate EDI) as a policy and technical philosophy. We traditionally held that data transformation was beyond the purview of our mission; our time, so we thought, is best spent in engineering the communications for routing and partner identity management, and for generally enhancing our network services. However, as hosted B2Bi service providers become increasingly numerous, we started rethinking our position regarding data services support. There is a big picture here, beyond the workaday duties of maps, envelopes, etc. We see data handling services (mapping and transformation for service providers) as a stepping stone into even more targeted services. We are concentrating on delivering these data services on a fairly new but priven and rapidly maturing technology called, ‘Enterprise Service Bus’, or ESB. We are also expanding our footprint into Java and the Eclipse IDE.
We subsequently became aware of an underserved developer sector in the Enterprise 2.0 world: Java on the Eclipse IDE. There are numerous open source EDI resources for Java and Eclipse, as well as import connectors, servlets, enveloping class objects, etc, and even hosted transform services that plug into Eclipse. I was looking for a fully featured system, rather than bits and pieces, that might work well with Our Brand (of ECGridOS API ) network management. We needed more than components, we needed a system and a partner.
Finding such an Eclipse based EDI suite seemed elusive until a partner found us – Oakland Software’s CTO, Francis Upton, a respected software engineer and data transformation scientist, left us a note. Our collaboration with Oakland Software is groundbreaking.
Oakland Software and Loren Data Corp are creating a next generation architecture for EDI message handling and network operations. The combination of the ODT, (Oakland Data Transformer) and ECGridOS brings new synergy to B2Bi for services construction, such as multitenant EDI SAAS services. While there are end-use cases, we know that a facility with tools, either .NET or Java on Eclipse, will be required to do the next big things. Such out of the box thinking will never come from the usual suspects that have dominated EDI, and neither can innovation be purchased. This partnership heralds a new ballgame – and the stadium is the ESB, or Enterprise Service Bus.
ESBs are an increasingly accepted way to manage disparate data sources, code, processes, and API’s. ESBs have passed their teething stages, and are now a linchpin in the superserver era. One leading open source ESB is MuleSoft ESB, used by many companies with demanding integration and business process management requirements. Oakland Software leads the charge in advanced data transformation using ESBs. The importance of Oakland’s work of combining Eclipse, MuleSoft ESB, and ECGridOS cannot be underestimated – combined, they deliver a complete, scaleable Data Handling System that is perfect for B2B service providers oriented towards hosted services, SAAS, EDI PAAS, and OEM Capital Line of Business Software, such as ERP, POS, and any adaptation of database-centric systems that need EDI, now.
It is not a prerequisite be a MuleSoft ESB expert in order to use Oakland’s ODT, or the network integrated product, ediNow, which combines Loren Data Corp’s ECGridOS and ODT. Service providers and new EDI ventures that are entering the market will need an edge, and simply must know more about the power of ESB’s in general, and MuleSoft ESB in particular. Oakland Software is right on-track to deliver the ECGridOS network management and integrated communications on several ESB’s – first on MuleSoft, then Talend, and others in the near future.
The complete services arc of mapping, data transformation, and EDI network communications management (for self-service, hosted EDI and B2Bi) are encompassed by the Oakland Software partnership. Therefore, its is more than worth announcing to our existing clients and long term prospects who felt, as I do, that most EDI tools and services feel like they belong in the 1970’s.
Energetic innovation in the EDI communications industry is not dead. Just ignore the entrenched laggards that have grown torpid, those offering worn out and tarnished services. Profiting richly from this sector for decades, they brought forth not a single innovation, and abrogated the unwritten moral code of B2B communications: “Trading Partners First”.
But the fresh thought leadership emerging from our partnership with Oakland Software is born of a continuing legacy of innovation, starting with Worldwide EDI, ECGrid, ECGridOS, and future services that are prominently positioned on Loren Data Corp’s Product Roadmap. Collaboration and collegiality permeates our corporate DNA, just as being true to our inner compass has helped us attract capable partners. Things are woking out well in the, “if you can think it, you can create it”, department. We knew both intuitively and through long discussions that our new partner, Francis Upton, is very much invested in the ethos of a ‘big picture’ take on the B2B industry’s evolution via collegiality and collaboration.
I continue to see sprouts of more than mere hope from myriads of new VC backed B2B E2.0 ventures, as well as EDI specialists bootstrapping their new businesses; these souls now have the capacity to deliver ‘over the horizon‘ services‘ to their specialty EDI markets. This era has been a long time coming, and is richly deserved.
Here is your network, and your integrated Data Tools, now, go forth and manage the universe!
I know I will be hearing shortly from the most entrepreneurial and curious of our EDI cowboys and cowgirls – so reach out and join our ediNow beta. Become a part of the first of many product announcements from Oakland Software and Loren Data Corp ECGridOS. Just send an email to awilensky@LD.com