With less of my pre-ambling than usual as commentary, Todd has posted an article that is deeper than its title suggests, and is quite timely and pertinent to our market: http://www.ld.com/to-build-or-to-buy-that-is-the-question/
My 2 cents:
The build / buy decision for B2B service providers of the new era is not the same as a build / buy decision for enterprise software buyers; there are services that you will never build, and services that you can’t buy at any price.
New ventures aspiring to provide more than generic partner connections, those building a new class of advanced B2B Cloud solutions, have access to an overabundance of “me too” EDI mailbox services. If you really wanted to build a vanilla grade VAN from the ground up, I doubt it could be done quickly, on any reasonable budget. Negotiating internetwork agreements is far more fraught today than it ever was in the heyday of the VAN’s innocence – when the industry grew like a wild weed.
Creating a web services communications platform on the scale of ECGridOS and ECGrid (the interconnection and routing engine), would take many man-years, the testing alone would swamp all but the likes of an IBM or Oracle. So, it is easy to answer the question: “Why did IBM buy Sterling after selling a most wonderful IE VAN?” It’s plainly too difficult to re-interconnect, tidy up all of the channel customizations, reestablish personal relationships, etc., when the in-house expertise has gone with the wind.
This is also why a behemoth, such as GXS, does not offer a communications API via REST or web services. Communications APIs are difficult, long term undertakings – Todd has been crafting the underlying architecture of ECGridOS and ECGrid since 1997 – one does not uncork such a mission critical communications API in a few months or even a year, regardless of the size of one’s off-shore development staff. For competitive reasons as well, GXS caters to corporate end-users, while opposed to Loren Data Corps focuses on multitenant, Cloud B2B service providers and OEM Enterprise Software vendors.
Loren Data Corp ECGrid is completely focused on the service provider – we do not service end users – therefore the vein of philosophical divergence runs fairly deep between ECGridOS, crafted for the B2B SAAS / PAAS / Cloud operators, and the rather limited fare of FTP upload and download mailboxes, and the similarly limited, and unfulfilled promise of AS2.
Fortunately, we are taking a completely fresh look at AS2, top to bottom, and reinventing it for a new vanguard of B2B service providers. Stay Tuned.