Electronic Data Interchange: Network Providers

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EDI Hardware

Basic system equipment: computer, modem and EDI software.

There are three basic hardware implementationss:



All EDI software is on the mainframe. This includes the EDI communication software and the business applications that use the data.



Who should use this implementation?

Companies with high a volume of transactions, long term trading partners and have or will be integrating EDI internally.

Microcomputer (standalone)

EDI software (communications) is on a standalone PC. Information from the mainframe is keyed into the PC from mainframe printouts, and then sent using EDI. When data is received it is printed out by the PC and keyed into the mainframe for processing.



Who should use this implementation?

Microcomputer Front-End

Out going data is downloaded to a PC (flat file) and transferred to trading partners using EDI. Incoming data is uploaded to the mainframe (same file format as download) and integrated with running applications. Internal bridging and processing is on the mainframe.



Who should use this implementation?

Companies that want to start EDI quickly and expand its use later.

Communications and Communicating

There are two basic communication links, direct or point-to-point and via third party network providers.

Direct Exchange (point-to-point)

Trading partners are connected directly. This is done by normal phone lines or dedicated data lines. Issues that arise with this method are:

When to use direct exchange?

This is best suited for companies with a small number of trading partners (<5).

As the number of trading partners increase so does the cost and hassle. More things to worry about... time zones, communication protocols etc.

Third Party Networks (VANs)

Network providers offer a way to communicate with a large number of trading partners, without the hassles of peer-to-peer. They can convert all incoming transactions to your communications format and outgoing messages to that of your trading partners. Benefits provided by third party networks:

The services provided by these network providers come in two basic forms:


Similar to normal mail, trading partners upload their messages, provider sorts the messages and put them into the correct mailboxes. This service is further broken into three categories:


Value Added Service (VAS)

Networks that provide other services are call VANs. These extra services are:

Issues to consider when selecting a third party network provider.

Seems be the same as the postal service and carries. Only the cost of the transmission is guaranteed. i.e. if customers are lost it is too bad.

Problems With Interconnects

This deals with the problems that occur when network providers communicate with each other. There are five basic problems:

1. Interconnect Entity Identification

This involves verification that the sender of the message is legitimate. Little security between networks. Able to send bogus messages to tradinging partners through improper methods.
Source says that this should be fixed by end of 1992.(a little dated)

2. Delayed Delivery

  1. Network Bait and Switchs

  • Receiver-Initiated Interconnects
  • Inadequate Interconnect System Capacity
  • 3. Delayed Processing

    1. Bait and Switch

  • Inefficient Interconnect Interfaces
  • 4. Undelivered Data

    1. Varied Network Requirements

  • No Failure Notification
  • 5. Lost Data

    normally detected by the end trading partner (business transaction fails).

    1. Insufficient Internal Tracking Controls

  • No Receipt Acknowledgment
  • Cost of Third Party Providers

    All providers have these basic fees:

    There are also other cost involved, depending on the provider you pick or extra feature you want.

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    Last updated March 24, 1995

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