What is AS2? It stands for Applicability Standard #2, an RFC, via the W3C, that came into being in the mid 2000’s. AS2 is a way to transfer EDI (or any) files securely from point to Point, with acknowledgement. AS2 is different than FTP or the secure FTP variants, because it is not interactive, like FTP, and does not allow access to host system directories – which FTP does allow unless you lock it down in any number of ways.
AS2 is attractive because it defines a strict state based transfer – certain things have to happen in a order, before an MDN acknowledgement is generated synchronously (right away) or asynchronously (not right away). As2 rides on top of http, or secure http, and the EDI MIME file is PKI encrypted with certificates. All of this is standardized; what is not standardized are the sender and receiver port numbers to use (a glaring omission) and other conventions that should have been spelled out as best practices, which Todd has started delving into in his As2 Best Practices Articles (see link below).
See Todd’s excellent post on AS2 for an explanation. We are catching a ton of AS2 keyword traffic, so check out http://www.ld.com/as2-part-1-what-is-it/ as it never hurts to review.
AS2 is so mature now, that Drummond Certification is probably not required anymore. I would say it is most certainly not. The industry might just see an AS3 renaissance – that is the SMTP form of secure email for EDI, and that would be a very good thing if the usual suspects bring the standard to fruition, and do not succumb to the desire to profiteer via certifications. I get it, when tools are new, it’s good to have a cook-off; when they are new.
AS2 is not new anymore, and most of the vendors know what they are doing. They have all, to the 99th decimal place, implemented the AS2 State Machine without error – it’s their GUI’s and other supporting components that badly need a re-jiggering – all related to usability and interpretability with other networks. AS3, if it comes back for serious implementation and adoption, should avoid the certification nightmare and profiteering, as now we know how to conduct volunteer testing and cook-offs, and certification. An SMTP AS3 EDI standard would solve many of the things that are lacking in As2, and benefit from the robust routing and error handling of garden variety email. Stay tuned, oh, and I almost forgot:
Loren Data ECGrid offers hosted As2 with optional message routing to any systems we interconnect with. ECGridOS offers API based As2 Communications as a hub or Spoke, also with optional message routing to the global mesh of VANs, Retailer Direct hubs, Federal and Military procurement, and many other service providers and X400 mail systems…over 100 supply chain systems are interconnected to ECGrid.