Electronic Data Interchange protocols: VAN, AS2, OFTP, SFT-P

EDI connectivity for the secure transmission of your electronic documents.

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) Protocols

One of the keys drivers of EDI document and message exchange concerns communications. The procedure or techniques used to transmit information from an issuer’s EDI solution to a receiver’s one involves EDI messaging protocols which, in the case of Electronic Data Interchange, have specific particularities and characteristics.

There are diverse EDI communication protocols, some adapted to the particular needs of an industry, which respond to the security, non-repudiation, traceability and integration needs required by the interchange of EDI structured transactions between two trading partners.

These are some of the communication protocols most commonly used in EDI:

VAN – Value Added Network

VANs are private networks specifically for the exchange of EDI documents. They make up a closed environment which partners connect their EDI solutions to in order to exchange documents inside the network.

VANs offer high security levels plus proof of message delivery and processing at destination, although they can be limited because, as they are private environments, they can exclude strategic partners not hooked up to a specific network. To span this inefficiency, the world’s leading networks establish private peerings, or interconnection agreements, to enable EDI documents to be exchanged between partners who could be on different VANs.

EDICOMNet, the VAN developed by EDICOM, is a dedicated private communications service guaranteeing connectivity between connected users and partners not in the network thanks to its private peerings and multiprotocol capabilities.

OFTP – Odette File Transfer Protocol

This communications protocol, developed in the 1980s by automotive industry player ODETTE, is today one of the most commonly used across the car industry for exchanging both EDI documents and other sensitive, high volume archives such as CAD/CAM engineering specifications.

The OFTP2 protocol went into production in 2010, making the system more versatile and robust and endowing it with significant competitive edges such as:

  • Greater data compression capacity.
  • Communications security management through SSL/TLS, identification, signature, encryption, etc.
  • Large-scale archive management (500 Gb-plus).

With OFTP communications, documents must be issued and received by servers using the same protocol, requiring configuration and maintenance along with permanent management to administer the multiple parameters involved in transferring these types of documents and messages.

AS2 – AS3 – AS4

AS stands for ‘Applicability Statement’, while the number alongside it means the communications protocol version developed by the IETF Internet Engineering Task Force.

This protocol, established in the year 2000, is designed for secure online message exchange via https, with encryption and digital signing to ensure the privacy and authenticity of data both sent and received.

AS2, AS3 or AS4 communications require messages to be transmitted by one AS server and received by another, which must have previously accepted document reception from this specific source. Both servers operate on the basis of specific rules which include the transmission of message requests for delivery and acceptance as a prior step before sending a document and confirmation of definitive receipt when the EDI document has been finally received by the target server.