As2 Comes to ECGridOS

The ECGridOS API now gains AS2 functionality, and is now in stable beta, with release to developer access before the end of the 2011.  This is an important milestone for the EDI communications community. Here are a few thoughts about why As2 communications was added to the ECGridOS API (a multi-network, mailbag-managed routing system):

As2 is….something else. At first glance, AS2 looks great, with direct connections between the trading partners, secure certificates, HTTPS transport. In other words,  AS2 looks like the answer to what some perceive as our present-day VAN ills (that’s another article). Until one experiences the pleasures of maintaining and operating a large AS2 system servicing dozens, hundreds, or thousands of trading parters, one can’t imagine the complexities ensuing from AS2. Most of the pains are inflicted upon the administrators, especially inexperienced As2 hub operators that are new to the game of communications infrastructure and the direct support of arms length trading parters. All good fun. Not.

Sometimes, a new hub initiative travels down the As2 primrose path, and then finds that they have gone too far, it’s too late to gracefully back out the trading partners onto the (marginally) more rational, routed VAN services. That’s the story we often hear: As2 was thought to be a messiah, yet after adding the thirty-seventh trading parter, things started falling apart, operationally speaking. Big support headaches, big licensing, software support fees, an expanding gang of dedicated machinery,  and never ending End User (trading partner) support calls! I can hear my grandmother saying, “oy vey” (“oh pain”, but much is lost in translation).

AS2, as run by large hubs, is famous for massive and unwieldy “forced march” certificate change overs. Changes to trading partner As2 IDs, the URIs on both ends, firewall port configuration nightmares, etc. Shall I go on?  The lesson here is that internally run and maintained As2 may be an acceptable communications channel for some, a burden for many, (trading partners) yet in any case, is never a picnic for the largest trading hubs.

For the few enamored of large, self-administered As2 systems, that’s great, I will not take issue, however, ECGridOS As2 will improve any organization’s operational efficiency.

I am rather evangelizing 97% of the largest retailers, manufacturers, and logistics operators that have had their sanity stolen by in-house As2. Our brave EDI Service Providers, the communications experts we specialize in serving, also complain about AS2 management headaches they experience in the course of supporting several hundreds to thousands of As2 spoke users.

ECGridOS As2 Web Services allows developers to command a powerful, multi-tenant communications cluster with centralized directory services and certificate management. The AS2 instances you create are accesible by any method supported by the ECGrid host network – FTP, SFTP, As2, Web Services parcel up/down, X400 SMTP.

Salvation is now at hand with ECGridOS AS2. Developers may now create, command, and embed the functionality of the EDI industry’s most sophisticated and trusted communications cluster, unifying both VAN routed communications via standard interconnects, and AS2 communications. Such functionality cannot be purchased or licensed at any price. Yes, there are hosted As2 systems, and they seem as difficult to administer as licensed As2 software packages. For example certificate management in most managed As2 systems seems as fraught as licensed software. Thankfully, ECGridOS As2 is an EDI  Service Providers or in-house developer’s dream.

AS2 instances runs on ECGrid’s infrastructure, residing in a best in class (Sungard) SAS70 data center. No hardware is required, and all of flexibility of ECGridOS (110 Function API) is retained. You will have total control over account creation,  mailboxes, reporting, sessions, security, certificates, tracking, and more. The power in bringing As2 communications to the proven ECGridOS Web services API, remedies the inherent deficiencies of in-house, licensed As2 systems.

If you don’t yet understand my enthusiasm, please go see our API Docs here. This is big.

Making  As2 communications a managed protocol within the ECGridOS EDI network management API is the one of the most newsworthy items I have seen in 2011 – it makes perfect sense, too, as ECGrid, ECGridOS, and now ECGridOS AS2 have all innovations of and by Todd Gould, President of Loren Data Corp, and possibly the EDI industry’s most prolific and far seeing communications engineer.

If you are interested in development using ECGridOS, including the As2 extensions, or would like a quote on standard communications on ECGrid at great wholesale rates, drop us a line or call. Remember, developer API accounts are free until you enroll  production users. We also have flexible account models for every type of Service Provider, Enterprise Software OEMs (build EDI into your applications, instead of sending your customers packing for an external solution).


One Response to “As2 Comes to ECGridOS”

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