Constancy of Vision – Clarity of Values. The Character of One Effective Leader

Loren Data Corp, a small, fiercely competitive VAN (a Value Added Network, operating under the ECGrid® Trademark), has emerged from a nightmare.

Todd Gould, President of Loren Data, successfully guided his company through the B2B IT sector’s most active period of consolidation, and emerged with the company intact. The increased visibility came unbidden to Todd, who simply persevered to resolve a high-stakes network routing dispute with GXS (now OpenText). The dispute became an issue of great concern to all companies depending on VANs for the reliable routing of electronic supply chain (EDI) transactions.

Competing against larger organizations is routine for Loren Data Corp; Todd had refined a reliable formula for delivering targeted EDI communications services for service providers and B2B cloud applications. One can appreciate the challenges of balancing the risk of meeting such a dispute head-on, while maintaining ECGrid’s operational standards of  near-perfection.

Throughout this extraordinary time, Loren Data never faltered in its technical operations, providing critical network messaging services for a professional subscriber population composed of supply chain service providers, enterprise software OEMs, and virtual VANs. The Company maintains very collegial inter provider relationships with its interconnected peers; such relationships are critical for keeping EDI message traffic flowing around the globe. ECGrid processes tens of thousands of EDI messages daily, the Netops team covers three shifts of support, and Todd, in the role of CTO, pushes forward on delivering the next generation of transactional messaging and supplier community management. Reason enough for Todd to enjoy a fleeting moment of industry recognition? In a busy, lean operation, there might be exactly one minute to reflect. If community is any indicator, a brief read of the forums covering the industry indicate that Loren Data Corp’s founder is respected as a competent and multifaceted leader. A visionary perhaps? A Thought Leader, most definitely.

Here are a few of my notes and observations about the company, Loren Data Corp, and its President: Continue reading

Industry Announcement – Loren Data Reaches an Agreement with OpenText – No Disruption

The following has been reposted from the Loren Data Corp President’s Blog:

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OpenText has agreed to continue exchanging data with Loren Data and has rescinded the disconnection.

The ability to set up new partnerships will resume immediately and data will continue to flow uninterrupted.

Industry and Customer First – Always

Regards,

Todd Gould
President & CEO

 

Editor’s Note: A great deal of credit and recognition must be accorded to Todd Gould and his counterparts at OpenText for persevering through these issues.

New Court Ruling places FCC in the regulatory catbird seat – what? Weren’t they already? Apparently not.

Court Strikes Down Net Neutrality Rules but Grants FCC Sweeping New Power over Internet

Today, the D.C. Circuit struck down most of the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet Order, rejecting rules that required broadband providers to carry all traffic for edge providers (“anti-blocking”) and prevented providers from negotiating deals for prioritized carriage. However, the appeals court did conclude that the FCC has statutory authority to issue “Net Neutrality” rules under Section 706(a) of the Communications Act and let stand the FCC’s requirement that broadband providers clearly disclose their network management practices.

 

http://techfreedom.org/post/73327053584/court-strikes-down-net-neutrality-rules-but-grants-fcc

EDI Communication market up in the air, up for grabs, consolidation notwithstanding

My analytical writings for lawyers and regulators have covered the dynamics of interconnections between networks in general and VANs in particular. To say, “The VAN industry was built upon collegial and permissive interconnection policies, in order to create and sustain its nascent sector”, is an ex-post facto spin. The facts are more raw.

I believe that this industry sector called “EDI Value Added Networks”, is in potential jeopardy unless it regains a unity of purpose. That is the sum total of the client satisfaction surveys aggregated from 3 major investment banks, plus my own focused telephone survey of GXS hub class clients, over 800 in total. All of the normalized results point to a damaged and deflating sector. Meanwhile, the transactional volume climbs, which is an indicator  the health  of the underlying technologies – however, there is ample room for improvement even in the tech space of EDI systems.

The EDI Comms industry, writ large, is the beneficiary of a vision, but finds itself running on reflexes, reactions, which will not allow the market to continue forward. If my colleagues do not consider the outlook quite so black, it makes the situation worse – as an institutional blindness may be setting in amongst analysts, and it’s our job to watch things closely from afar, to point out missing elements, while taking the temperature of the customers. With that all said, I don’t like what I see, and if GXS’ track record is being swallowed whole by savvy Opentext, this is just more fodder for negative speculation. Additionally, the endemic weakness of SPS Commerce in its back-end services infrastructure, counterpoised against its stock price and market cap, seem disconnected from the standpoint of critical reality….this baffles me, but at least SPS has created efficiencies in the market for the SME suppliers. I can’t see one good thing arising out of the GXS PE funded rollups. I can say there are many ex-Inovis customers that were thrown onto the GXS heap, and they are a very unhappy user population. Take that one to the bank with the previous generation of ex-IBM IE customers. Never has a 100% functional and robust VAN property been intentionally broken by its new owner, like IE was by GXS. Awful bloody awful, it was.   Continue reading

With VAN Consolidation rampant, are B2B message routing exchanges the answer to total reciprocity and delivery assurance?

Author’s note:

The most fecund source of utter baloney can be found at many places on the GXS website, that basically states, “a one vendor network is the only way to insure EDI messaging reliability”. Bull-oney. I think we have all learned an indelible lesson that multi-vendor, multi-provider markets (including messaging networks) which includes routing networks (like the internet) are the best architectural model to arise in the universe of IT, from both a reliability and economic perspective. I’m sure that the old GXS would like nothing better than to have its customers get everything from its network based services – messaging, translation, applications, maybe your medical insurance too. Maybe GXS would like to arrange marriages?

This article is about an access and routing model that was born in the early Internet years, when setting up routing gateways was a black art – and telcos late to the Internet game started to get hungry again, formed a land rush, buying up many of the first mover IP backbone providers; this is when MCI bagged UUNET, leading to another  antitrust case.

Now, we have a tremendous amount of VAN consolidation with the OpenText deal, and this could be a good time to talk about the CIX, or Commercial Internet Exchange Model. CIX was formed as a shared peering exchange point, a membership organization, that allowed companies to get their foot in the Internet’s door – while the FCC was struggling to come to terms with the Telecom Reform Act of 1996. Ok, that ends my intro – on to the EDI Messaging Exchange Model:

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Generalized Industry advice and observation

I have been put on the hot seat by my colleagues, and they are demanding a general statement that can be applied to the entire specialized EDI Communications Sector. I am speaking of none other than the Value Added Networks that have traditionally moved and routed EDI interchanges for decades, those systems that have maintained a kind of “folksy, informal, and somewhat broken” addressing system, operating at layer seven.

Other than the industry’s collective experiment with AS2 (a perfectly fine implementation of a state mechanism for the secure transfer of any file), there has not been any refinement of provider managed communications of EDI-centric trading partner communications. Nada, None. One actually.  However, AS2 is not a network-wide system. There is no centrality of addressing, and the burdens placed on a broad class of smaller to medium-sized (even large) end users is so……aggravating, considering the potential.

But, other than the exceptions, what is my generalized advice for the VAN sector? What is my prognostication for the maximized possible, foreseeable risks for the largest operators, as well as for the  ambitious hopefuls, those with as much spunk and / or technology, as the others have capital.

As if anyone cares, here is my sole opinion:

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