I saw this thread on AS2 Hosting vs. In-House configurations, a perennial favorite topic of flames on LinkedIn EDI Forums. My response was too lengthy to post there, so here is my take:
By choosing a managed AS2 system, you are trading finite, limited internal resources for the expertise of a specialty communications provider – and As2 is a specialty, certainly. Choose a communications provider that you can talk to. So, will it be a VAN or a data center utility, a visionary with a rock solid solution or “Value Subtracted Network”?
Here is a direct Quote from an EDI integration consultant who managed several AS2 instances for his clients, “everything was fine until the 35th trading partner was added”. (the number is arbitrary, and tongue in cheek, the joke is both serious and funny). When things became flaky. he was fixing AS2 issues via remote sessions, after hours, often with the vendors on the phone.
“….I also ended up supporting the client’s end-users (and his client’s less experienced trading partners, who were not aware of AS2).” End of quote.
You might say…..this guy didn’t know what he was doing! No so! These were several “guys and gals” with years of experience operating dedicated servers, databases, etc. This was just a sample of case interviews that I perform for certain enterprise B2B services clients who are bringing a new service to the market. In this case, managed AS2 Unified with VAN message routing.
Someone says, ” Big Deal: I have 3000 trading partners on the Hub, with problems at all using free Unix AS2 on quality hardware. Well, good for you, you are costing how much in salary and bennies? You are a in-house, IT and EDI Ninja….working for one hub, and you got there over a course of years….and $$$ went into your pocket on the job while you learned to roll with the AS2 and its special quirks..
However, These case interviewees were beloved integration consultants to their clients. They managed VAN comms, software, ERP, one guy even (contact for references) builds the entire computing infrastructure for his customers, and he started with Linux freeware AS2 and VAN connections artfully merged at the application layer…which he later integrated with Commercial AS2…..”
You get the idea, these were not dummies nor were they inexperienced! They were also not in-house EDI for one hub or a large supplier, they serviced dozens of hubs and suppliers – some very prestigious retailers among them ones, and they consulted for major 3PLs and Marquee Label parcel companies…cold storage warehousing…get it? Experts.
They had to operate AS2, and accommodate VAN-bound.trading partners who would not ..or could not, for many reasons, move to AS2 – hmm..so what to do?
So they found a hosted As2 solution from my client, a slick forward thinking EDI VAN….unifying AS2 supplier messaging with VAN bound traffic. The consultant was able to offer a unique service for trading partners connected via the managed AS2 hub. They have the option to connect to any system, anywhere ….VANs or X.400 systems, Federal Systems (FACNET), and direct connections (like Loews or Target). The hassle of a direct connection via AS2 became a powerful on-ramp for their supplier community. Hybrid, hosted, managed AS2? with messages optionally routed via VAN interconnects to the global mesh of all EDI Networks ! The system is easily extended via a Remote Method Function library. In essence, they became a VAN via this Unified AS2 + VAN service.
That’s a Unified AS2 plus VAN-based messaging system, multi-tenant – with no license or annual support fees, run on a super-scalable-fault tolerant dual data center system designed for EDI hired guns and Service Providers, B2B SAAS and EDI gurus ready to go out on their own, if only….they could be a VAN or EDI network operator…..how could they do that?
All of this is run by a tight-knit crew of EDI Communications professionals. They now service the who’s who of EDI Service providers and pioneered web-based EDI.
The Founder is President and CTO – and the EDI sector’s leading communication’s architect – a far ahead thinker.
If a VAN is a uniquely competent, choose that VAN. …Choose a VAN who welcomes new competitors, who can revive your B2B communications; such a company offers the services covered above, and selflessly leads the industry with better ideas.
And, you just might have found a VAN that you can work with. oh yeah! They can run AS2 for you 🙂