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OpenText has agreed to continue exchanging data with Loren Data and has rescinded the disconnection.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

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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Undercurrent of Grumbling Pervading EDI VAN sector – root cause is a total lack of stewardship.

It’s my job to keep an eye on the B2B networked services sector; I keep my ear to the ground, and I’m always available for colleagues to call and sound out issues. I’m not a psychic, I don’t relish prognosticating (ok, I do enjoy prognosticating). and I didn’t anticipate the OpenText deal, even after EasyLink was bagged. I didn’t think there was enough value in GXS, even for a notoriously sharp-penciled OpenText.  However, the consensus from those enmeshed in this B2B services market, is that they (and their clients) are ready for a change.

I’m not a career counselor, I’m a sector advocate; I chose to work in the B2B coverage sandbox (maybe it chose me). I am predisposed to call out trends, baloney, mistakes, blunders, misallocations, misjudgments, and abuses with a capital ‘A’.  It’s all my opinion, and quite a few people vociferously take issue with my POV.

All of the discontent expressed within the EDI communications services sector falls under one rubric – the lack of industry stewardship.

First, let’s get a few things cleared up. I am  pro market, I’m pro PE, ok? These are my public declarations:

  • There is nothing wrong with making mistakes, if the responsible parties take corrective action.
  • I have no bias against Private Equity, I support access to capital;
  • There are many good companies that suffer from non-fatal weaknesses; many of these are prime targets for turnaround.
  • There is nothing wrong with executing a multi-company planned consolidation, in order attain efficiencies of scale.
  • There is nothing evil or improper in harvesting an equity placement via IPO or sale.This could be my own problem of misperception, but I seem to unable to abide the obduracy of our sector’s worst offenders. Call me a network effect moralist.

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An Influential and Long-Lived Partnership – SPS Commerce and Loren Data Corp solidify their relationship

And in other developments, Loren Data Corp and its major account relation, SPS Commerce, are finally pulling in the same, sane, direction:

SPS CEO, Archie Black, now stands with Loren Data Corp President Todd Gould, endorsing Mr. Gould’s vision of how connected markets should work.

Most important is that these two companies will now directly oppose the worn out GXS notion that Daisy Chaining (a term of art) is a deficient topology in a networked system, as GXS would have an uninformed public believe. The absolute opposite is true, as we all know: Good Networks Hop Well. Internetwork systems, message routing systems, and WANs, all tolerate and even optimize for hand-offs to cooperative systems. The internet is Daisy Chaining made a science. Email, as the “killer application” of the Internet, is designed to tolerate N-relays.

Furthermore, if your messaging system can not tolerate intermediate routing, enhanced traffic handling, or more than one hop, then your technology is questionable and deficient. Make no mistake, my colleagues, when GXS says, Daisy Chain, they mean, “we want both ends of all supply chain transactions, the hub and the spoke, all to be resident on GXS VANs….period.    

SPS Commerce, having spoken out in direct public support of Loren Data Corp, has underscored the competency and operational excellence of Loren Data, as SPS’ preferred EDI messaging provider.  Todd Gould, Loren Data Corp President and CTO , designed the efficient and innovative ECGrid VAN,  the ECGridOS Web Services API, Unified AS2, and a new generation of products emerging from this intrepid and resilient thought leader of the EDI communications sector, and his scalable ECGrid platform.

This approbation by SPS Commerce signals that more stable times are potentially within reach for the interconnected VAN sector. SPS and Loren Data, two upstart companies with remarkably individualistic and obstinate leaders, will be working together to improve the stability of the EDI sector, as they wield their combined influence to safeguard and stabilize the integrity and deliverability of EDI interchanges across the global mesh of cooperating interconnected VANs and service providers.

This partnership should reassure nervous CIOs’ and supply chain managers – especially those seeking a path beyond the GXS induced network discontinuities, that there are options for these disillusioned, soon-to-be ex-GXS customers.

Interpreting OpenText’s Planned Acquisition of GXS

What does the OpenText acquisition of GXS mean for the industry?

The following are my personal observations regarding the GXS acquisition by OpenText. First, these have been calls, too many to return today, many from colleagues in product advocacy. I will return as many calls as possible.

I have always thought that OpenText has been on the right track  since their acquisition of Hummingbird. In the late 1990’s EDM market, Opentext was somewhat the laggard, compared to Hummingbird and certain other document management and knowledge discovery products. Such was that heady era, with tremendous energy misspent on XML databases and such.  OpenText navigated the morass admirably, and kept an eye on capital mobilization, thereby becoming the unquestioned leader in Enterprise Data management and knowledge discovery.

A good example, one of many acquisitions by OpenText was Nstein software, a stroke of genius which brought Opentext into the forefront of text mining, knowledge analysis, and conceptual text element and entity scoring. Bravo. I had delivered a white paper to France Telecom in 2007 on the text mining sector, and Nstein was one of the recommended vendors that had visited France Telecom’s R&D Lab to present their Text Analysis Toolkit SDK. OpenText, unlike France Telecom, had the expertise and cohesive vision to subsume text analysis into their market facing line.  Very few analysts watching the EIM sector comprehend that executing this strategy takes an amazing constancy of vision. 

With the buyout of EasyLink, OpenText purchased a dual technology property with a workmanlike infrastructure. EasyLink had the virtue of being an ex-AT&T property that enjoyed having adequate resources to operate and compete effectively. With the EasyLink’s capture of ICC, the company was able to absorb a highly contemporary and functional EDI communications architecture. EasyLink, as one of the last ‘branded’ legacy VANs, is considered an operation that basically works. The company also has electronic fax and unified voice services, which is very popular with SME’s through the large enterprise.

Analysts with sharp recall see that OpenText’s acquisition of Rightfax, again, shows a portfolio strategy that just makes sense.

One of my sources disclosed that OpenText was researching the possibility of “componentized EDI Communications”,  or EDI Comms as encapsulated services, reduced to a standardized, end-to-end protocol, like email, which is quite different from how today’s VANs handle EDI messaging.  We shall see. I can say that my contacts in EDI network operations have stated that Easylink operations and internetwork relations have not been degraded since the OpenText acquisition.

If we look well past the structural finance issues dogging GXS , which OpenText is perfectly able to address, the most vexing issue remains GXS induced interference in the transit of EDI messages between the Marquee Hubs residing on GXS VANs,  and their trading partners, who are often SPS Commerce subscribers. In other networked markets, these anticompetitive acts would result in a tariff violation, a common carrier enforcement penalty, and be regarded by most as an egregious breach of trust.

The question thereby becomes, will OpenText allow such unfettered abuses to continue? I am 100% sure that Opentext CEO, Mark J. Barrenechea, would more likely take a pro market position, and establish the new GXS as a good network citizen within the global mesh of interconnected commerce networks.

Sound opinions of GXS performance and user satisfaction sought

I am quite sincere in soliciting any bona fide end-users, especially brand marquee retailer and manufacturer hubs, any large EDI communications messaging users that are GXS TGMS VAN, Inovis VAN, or even past or present unmigrated IE VAN customers that wish to make on or off the record statement regarding your satisfaction with GXS overall –

I am not compiling data for professional services or enterprise software sales, and I have not made up my mind on integration or managed services scoring.

What the heck! If you are a GXS client and are perfectly satisfied with what they are providing, contact me at abmadw@gmail.com and I will take your opinion and ask you ten questions. In return, you can ask me anything within my area of expertise = as a full-time B2B sector analyst for new products, and as an advocate for innovators. Pick my brain, go on or off the record as you like.

Ask me anything.

This is the chance for happy GXS clients to give approbation; have they been improving, or not? How’s the support, have they been conducting your migration properly and well?

I will post the survey right here later over the weekend.