The State of Loren Data Corp Web Services

A Briefing for Analysts

Executive Summary

Composing a neutral preamble for a ...
Long-standing ECGrid clients, such as Covalentworks and SPS commerce, typically access our
services via VPN, yet are in a ...
ECGridOS Web Services, as currently cast, are fully formed routines that accomplish complete
'jobs', and return rich data ...
Loren Data Corp provides critical services to a select class of B2B commerce companies. These
service providers are in the...
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State of the EDI Web Services API


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This paper covers the current state of adoption of Loren Data Corps ECGridOS EDI Communications Web Services API.

THe ECGridOS Service Delivery Platform is gaining traction with B2B solutions providers that have grown weary of EDI business as usual.

The idea that a company can create and control native EDI communications is very new. The current model has solutions providers hassling with manual processes with a VAN Network Ops to create and configure accounts.

ECGridOS allows the supply chain or ecommerce SAAS operator to build in EDI Communications functions into their code, essentially, becoming their own VAN. Sperate mailboxes and user access can be configured for each tentant on a SAAS platform, so each message stream is rationally managed by account, rather than having 100's or 1000's of EDI users on a cloud hosted system sharing a few FTP or AS2 pipes, with the platform logic chopping up and handling incoming and outgoing messages.

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State of the EDI Web Services API

  1. 1. The State of Loren Data Corp Web Services A Briefing for Analysts Executive Summary Composing a neutral preamble for a disruptive service is like walking a tightrope; brevity is always preferred, but one strives to convey the excitement. Can you feel it yet? In the very staid world of EDI Communications Services, Loren Data Corp has continually armed the new guard of B2B innovators. While the established world of Value Added Networks appears to have stagnated in their EDI communications offerings, Loren Data Corp routinely delivers innovation and incremental improvements via ECGrid®, an intelligent EDI message routing network, and ECGridOS, the industry’s only programmable EDI network environment. Loren Data Corp was founded by Todd Gould in 1987. The company’s first decade of EDI services included developing the client facing and middleware components of the USAF PX logistics chain, resulting in one of the first Web-Based EDI applications. ECGrid® Loren’s high-powered EDI intelligent switching infrastructure, entered production in 2001, and now serves a cadre of recognizable electronic commerce services providers, including SPS Commerce. ECGrid® is the commerce network of choice serving the vanguard of cloud-based B2B ventures. Todd Gould’s vision of ECGrid® as a messaging utility is now fully vindicated, with ECGrid® hosting 16,000 trading partner ID’s, and carrying 7-10% of North American EDI message traffic. ECGridOS, a 90+ Function Web Services API, is the only Programmable EDI Communications Network in the industry. ECGrid® and ECGridOS offer pure EDI messaging services, unbundled from software licenses and value added services. Collectively, Loren Data Corp’s EDI Services lay the groundwork for a new generation of on-demand B2B providers. Client Types Customers of Loren Data Corp are classified as ECGrid® clients, or as ECGridOS (API) developers. This demarcation continues a sure trend of melting away, as ECGridOS developers increasingly assume the role of "network services grantors", a model where the developer acts as a franchisee conveying EDI network services within a geographic region, or a vertical market. ECGridOS developers may also license API code assets, offered as compatible applications that access ECGrid. Such an Application marketplace for EDI VAN services is quite an innovation, and the potential is just being realized. For example, NetEDI has developed a complete EDI network management application built upon the API. B2B OEMs and SAAS operators would license such a codebase for integration into a platform, in order to provision EDI administration and billing interfaces. These are the first turnkey VAN services available and interoperable at the platform level. In these cases, NetEDI acts as the VAN operator or grantor of services, backed by Loren Data Corps Infrastructure. Evolution of Mature Accounts
  2. 2. Long-standing ECGrid clients, such as Covalentworks and SPS commerce, typically access our services via VPN, yet are in a very real sense beneficiaries of the API. This is because we provide updates, enhanced functionality, and special account handling features via ECGridOS web services. Therefore, all LDC clients share in the positive improvements catalyzed by the API. Many have a stated intent to plan future projects around ECGridOS, or already have developer credentials. ECGridOS is a Full Internal Production System As for ECGridOS developers, the first and most important client is Loren Data Corp. We deliver all new client facing features and management functions using the exact WSDL calls that are made available to our developers, with only a handful of functions reserved for internal use.. Marquee EDI Entrepreneurs bet their Farms on ECGridOS The current developer of record is NetEDI. Although NetEDI is a non-domestic reference, they currently hold the largest code base relying solely on ECGridOS. We expect NetEDI to perform land office business in the EU. The principals of NetEDI are experienced EDI developers, .Net aces par excellence, and have delivered on every conceivable B2B and ERP platform. We are very fortunate to have NetEDI in our developer portfolio. I would highly recommend that anyone interested in these topics consider NetEDI as a source of industry intelligence, quite apart from his ECGridOS exposure, for his perspective on the B2B tools sector is penetrating. We have assigned credentials to a list of developers closing in on a baker's dozen + a good handful in the pipeline. These speculative prospects run the gamut from OEMs to SAAS 3PL hubs and automotive vertical SCM. We expect contractual agreements from a subset of these. Conversion of Accounts When a prospective developer 'gets it', they are in. Therefore, our contacts with technical management depends on how CTO's and Tech VPs are positioned. The conversion from prospect to paid services can be sudden. Particularly in the cloud B2B sector, where the fight for differentiation seems to be heating up. We expect to hear from ECGridOS developer account holders (the occasional or dormant) in due time. Their initial intuition is usually spot on, even if coding efforts are somewhat delayed. The original intent to develop will reassert itself. An increasing resource pool of example code, tools, and helpful utilities will serve to awaken some of our shy developers. Pure WS vs. Adapters or Both? Regarding adapters: We feel that current IDEs handle rational WSDL grammars as well as platform specific adapters. Time allowing, we plan creating a Boomi Atom, a WCF or App Fabric Component for Biztalk server, and we may throw a dart at other SAAS enabling multi-Tenant platform, such as Netsuite OS, Mule ESB, or some-such. Web Services are consumed directly by SAP's xi, ABAP, Sterling Integrator, Biztalk, Visual Studio, Eclipse, Web Sphere, and other platforms. The creation of specific adapters may only serve to transform otherwise well documented WS functions into an arbitrary alternative. Clean, unified well documented WS Calls, or a REST family equivalent (depending on what religion you grew up in), are far superior to a fragmented set of one off adapters that must keep pace with the quirks and vagaries of the targeted host system.
  3. 3. ECGridOS Web Services, as currently cast, are fully formed routines that accomplish complete 'jobs', and return rich data from ECGrid's routing and session control process layers. ECGrid's Advanced Architecture Makes ECGridOS Possible One reason we feel Loren Data has the lead in EDI API initiatives is that ECGrid is architecturally more sophisticated than other VANs Specifically, ECGrid®: • Has superior State Awareness in message handling, • Has better adherence to inter-network signaling standards, • Is better prepared to meet the demands of emerging X12 standards • Supports a more complete set of message handling, network interconnect, and parcel manifest metadata • The only EDI system to offer directory services Without the foundation of ECGrid, designed from the outset as a network of networks, the API would be either trivial or ineffective as an infrastructure enabler. I personally posit that the market leaders do not share ECGrid's internal sophistication, and therefore, the API catchup will be a formidable challenge. The lead is however, perishable. Longer term strategies for Enterprise 2.0 mashups with other services and API's: Todd and I are keen to try and deliver a transparent EDI experience for systems that have open REST APIs for mid range accounting, such as Freshbooks, Quickbooks on-line, and some of the lightweight ERP packages such as Compiere. Most of these app providers may require naught but our own development elbow grease and time. The opportunity for larger integration vendors to subsume EDI Communications via a fundamental services approach (like ECGridOS), has not yet taken firm hold in the market. CastIron systems, for example, should make EDI an in-the-box feature, with a dashboard configuration panel. Such a tie up would serve CI's clients by obviating the need for external VAN configuration - a rote and vexing task. There are many other examples of nascent integration markets that will bear fruit in time as we build upon accounts, collect use cases, and continue to encourage our seed developers to allow us to assist them in building a better EDI experience. Loren Data Corp's Culture Todd and team have kept marquee accounts such as SPS commerce satisfied by providing a quality of operational support that is professional, yet non-bureaucratic. The LD Netops team is unlike other VAN support organizations. The ethos of LD is to model support as an extension of a client's preferred departmental model, accountable party to accountable party. A well known axiom in the VAN or ISP business is that when things are working well, Netops is inconsequential; and when things go horribly wrong, an effective network operations team is instantly distinguished. Loren Data Corp is a Mature EDI Carrier, chosen by Cloud B2B Innovators
  4. 4. Loren Data Corp provides critical services to a select class of B2B commerce companies. These service providers are in the vanguard of delivering on-demand B2B services to all levels of the supply chain sector, but are singularly accommodating of the SME. This was a triumph of vision on the part of these bold, B2B services providers. I still puzzle over the SME's abandonment by the VAN sector leaders. That such a blind spot persists merely underlines the legacy VAN’s preference of delivering capital line of business solutions bundled with EDI messaging services. However, the continuing availability of unbundled EDI message routing services is an absolute necessity for the sector to thrive. By bringing the ECGridOS API to market, Todd and his team at Loren Data Corp have assured competitive B2B service providers, particularly Cloud-based operators, that unbundled EDI messaging services will continue to evolve. The competitive fabric of the B2B sector depends on just such innovation.