Successful AS2 communications require a balancing act between two conflicting demands: your infrastructure has to be open enough to talk with your trading partners, but secure enough to keep out intruders and repel attacks. The familiar firewall is the tool of choice to resolve this, but it still requires that you tell your trading partner which ports are open. This could expose your network to security lapses on their end. Fortunately, there are several options available to minimize or eliminate this risk.
An obvious solution is to restrict incoming traffic only to the known IP addresses of your trading partners. While this is a good start, some other problems present themselves. Continue reading →
In my last entry discussing the restriction of outbound communications, I briefly mentioned one of the benefits of using an automatic retry option for your AS2 transmissions. Automated resending, or what are sometimes called AS2 reliability features, can be a simplifying and powerful tool in a variety of situations beyond what I’ve already discussed, however. In this entry, I’m going to talk about some of those cases and the advantages they offer.
Most AS2 applications offer some sort of automatic retry facility in case the initial attempt to send an outbound document fails. Despite this, I’ve noticed that many users ignore this feature. They might wonder what the point in retrying is, thinking that a failure in an HTTP transmission usually indicates something that is not going to resolve itself, Continue reading →
For my inaugural post on this blog, I want to revisit one of those “solved problems” that still dogs many of the companies we talk with, namely, how to handle B2B integration requirements that don’t involve standard EDI. Companies still find it difficult to cope with the full range of B2B connections and content types needed to integrate with large and small trading partners, including:
Standard EDI (and in some cases, EDI that does not fully conform to standards)
“Standard” XML, which ranges from well-developed, horizontal standards like RosettaNet to hundreds of loosely-defined vertical transaction sets
EDI-like flat file standards (most of these are older, vertically-focused cases)
EDI-based web forms
Proprietary, partner-defined flat files
Proprietary, partner-defined spreadsheets
Proprietary, partner-defined web portals
Proprietary, partner-defined documents sent by email or fax
Did I miss any? Probably. But the point is that standard EDI is just one of numerous conventions used for B2B integration. Of course, standard X12 and EDIFACT EDI are still the mainstay of B2B integration. And there is little evidence to suggest that companies are ready to invest in replacing all of their EDI connections with something “better”. In fact, EDI adoption is increasing.