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EDI over the Internet. March 23, 2004 Joseph Conron Internet Commerce Corp. Definition of EDI EDI Standards EDI Transactions EDI Networks What they do How they work Internet and EDI (EDIINT) EDI, the Internet, and RFCs AS2 – an application of Internet Standards

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Edi over the internet

EDI over the Internet

March 23, 2004

Joseph Conron

Internet Commerce Corp


Definition of EDI

EDI Standards

EDI Transactions

EDI Networks

What they do

How they work

Internet and EDI (EDIINT)

EDI, the Internet, and RFCs

AS2 – an application of Internet Standards

Impact – how the Internet transformed EDI services.

Final Thoughts and Questions


What is edi

What is EDI?

EDI Document

Elelctronic Data Interchange

  • Computer-to-computer exchange of business documents.

  • Documents use standardized format.

  • Documents are called transaction sets.

  • EDI transaction set is roughly equivalent to a paper business form

    • purchase order

    • Invoice

    • shipping notice

  • Organizations that exchange EDI transaction sets are called trading partners.

Why edi

Why EDI?

US Postal Service

The Goal is to move From This:

To This:


What is an edi standard
What is an EDI Standard?







Standards take the guesswork out of understanding

the content of a business document

Structure, content, and syntax of EDI transactions are

established by the governing standards committee

*American National Standards Institute ANSI X12

*UN Edifact - EDI for the Facilitation of Administration, Commerce, and Transport

Edi over the internet

Why Standards?

  • Hardware Differences

  • Diverse Business Systems

  • Different Operating Systems

  • Programming Languages

  • File Structures

  • Different Character Sets

Example: 07/08/2004

Possible Interpretations - August 7, 2004 in Germany

July 8, 2004 in the U.S.

Standards Ensure a Commonly Understood

Meaning When Computers Exchange Data

Edi over the internet





Standards Language

  • Interchange - Envelope

  • Transaction - Document

  • Functional Groups - Similar Documents

  • Segment - Line

  • Data Elements - Word

  • Identifier - Code

  • Delimiters - Punctuation

  • Syntax - Format

Edi over the internet

EDI Standards

Purchase Order

X12 Data String

ISA*00* *00* *01*VAN1 *12*VAN2 *981015*1226*U*00303*000000179*0*P*>…GS*PO*VAN1*VAN2*981015*1226*179*X*003030…ST*850*000001173…BEG*00*NE*739168**981011…DTM*017*981101…N1*ST*VAN1*92*006…PO1*1*6*EA*3.71**SK*332531*ZZ*BLUE WIDGETS 55555…PO1*2*6*EA*2.2**SK*332560*ZZ*RED IDGETS 33945…PO1*3*6*EA*1.25**SK*332586*ZZ*YELLOW WIDGETS 53945…PO1*4*6*EA*.5**SK*333637*ZZ*GREEN WIDGETS1049…PO1*5*6*EA*5.39**SK*333640*ZZ*PURPLE WIDGETS 51041…PO1*6*12*EA*.36**SK*333653*ZZ*BLACK WIDGETS 51000…PO1*7*6*EA*.99**SK*333695*ZZ*WHITE WIDGETS 51042…PO1*8*6*EA*3.15**SK*333718*ZZ*BEIGE WIDGETS 53949…PO1*9*6*EA*2.8**SK*333721*ZZ*ORANGE WIDGETS 51043…PO1*10*6*EA*2.98**SK*333734*ZZ*GRAY WIDGETS 51044…PO1*11*24*EA*.79**SK*333776*ZZ*VIOLET WIDGETS EZ21406…PO1*12*6*EA*1.12**SK*333802*ZZ*MAROON WIDGETS51051…PO1*13*10*EA*.99**SK*333815*ZZ*AQUA WIDGETS51053…CTT*13…SE*19*000001173…ST*850*000001174…BEG*00*NE*739169**981011…DTM*017*981101…N1*ST*VAN1*92*028…PO1*1*24*EA*.62**SK*332667*ZZ*BROWN WIDGETS20501…PO1*2*10*EA*5.8**SK*333624*ZZ*BLUE WIDGETS 13945…PO1*3*6*EA*5.39**SK*333640*ZZ*PURPLE WIDGETS 51041…CTT*3…SE*9*000001174…ST*850*000001175…BEG*00*NE*739170**981011…DTM*017*981101…N1*ST*VAN1*92*031…PO1*1*6*EA*2.2**SK*332560*ZZ*RED WIDGETS 33945…PO1*2*6*EA*1.25**SK*332586*ZZ*YELLOW WIDGETS 53945…PO1*3*10*EA*4.24**SK*332612*ZZ*BROWN WIDGETS 23945…PO1*4*24*EA*.77**SK*332748*ZZ*RED WIDGETS-22201…PO1*5*6*EA*.36**SK*333653*ZZ*BLACK WIDGETS 51000…PO1*6*6*EA*3.15**SK*333718*ZZ*BEIGE WIDGETS 53949…PO1*7*10*EA*.99**SK*333815*ZZ*AQUA WITS 51053…CTT*7…SE*13*000001175…ST*850*000001176…BEG*00*NE*739171**981011…DTM*017*981101…N1*ST*VAN1*92*037…PO1*1*24*EA*1.01**SK*333569*ZZ*VIOLET WIDGETS 21202…PO1*2*10*EA*5.99**SK*333611*ZZ*BROWN WIDGETS-12955…PO1*3*6*EA*.5**SK*333637*ZZ*GREEN WIDGETS 51049…PO1*4*6*EA*5.39**SK*333640*ZZ*PURPLE WIDGETS 51041…PO1*5*6*EA*3.15**SK*333718*ZZ*BEIGE WIDGETS 53949…PO1*6*6*EA*2.8**SK*333721*ZZ*ORANGE WIDGETS 51043…CTT*6…SE*12*000001176…ST*850*000001177…BEG*00*NE*739172**981011…DTM*017*981101…N1*ST*VAN1*92*045…PO1*1*6*EA*3.71**SK*332531*ZZ*BLUE WIDGETS 55555…PO1*2*6*EA*2.12**SK*332573*ZZ*FLO TEMP SOLDER42945…PO1*3*24*EA*.82**SK*332638*ZZ*MASSIVE WIDGETS-20801…PO1*4*24*EA*.62**SK*332667*ZZ*SMART WIDGETS-20501…PO1*5*24*EA*.75**SK*333556*ZZ*VIOLET

Edi over the internet

EDI Transactions

Product Data &Price Catalog - 832

Purchase Order - 850









Purchase Order Acknowledgement - 855


Advance Ship Notice - 856

Invoice - 810

Remittance Advice - 820

Product Activity Data - 852

Functional Acknowledgements - 997

Documents Used Will Vary by Industry

Edi over the internet

Company A





Before EDI Networks

Initially, Quite Simple

Edi over the internet

Before EDI Networks

Company A



Company B


Company C


Company D



But It Got Ugly Real Fast!

Edi over the internet

Proprietary EDI Networks

Outsource the Headaches to an Intermediary

Company A



Company B



Company C


Company D



Edi networks before internet

EDI Services provided by Value Added Networks (VANs)

GE Information Services

Sterling Commerce


Before Internet, VANS used proprietary software and bisync communications links.

Many of these links are still in use!

EDI Networks before Internet

Edi over the internet

Large Processing, Support, and Network Infrastructure.

EDI Networks before Internet

Mainframe/Fault Tolerant Hardware




Your Site






Leased Lines


X.25 (X.400)

Async Dial

Bisync Dial-Out








Edi meets the internet

Until 1998, all EDI traffic was handled by VANs, and none of these used the Internet.

In 1998, Internet Commerce Corp deploys the first Internet based EDI network, now called ICC.net.

FTP, SMTP, HTTP, PGP are the Internet protocols used for file transfer and document management.

FTP, SMTP – file transfer of EDI documents

HTTP – browser applet to manage “mailboxes”

PGP - security

EDI Meets the Internet

Edi meets the internet1

ICC would continue to be the only EDI network using the Internet for the next two years.

Major VANS like IBM, Sterling Commerce, and GE Information Systems would take two to three years to catch up.

Question: why did it take a start-up to change the way EDI is transmitted? Why didn’t one of the major players do it?

EDI Meets the Internet

Edi over the internet

  • Answers? Internet for the next two years.

  • Too expensive?

  • Too much invested in existing infrastructure?

  • Perception that the Internet is not secure?

Resistance to the internet

EDI world entrenched in proprietary point to point solutions (i.e., CLOSED systems).

Internet viewed as insecure.

To solve this problem, EDI world would need:

Privacy (encrypted data)

Authentication (know your partner!)

Message Integrity (no message tampering)

Non-repudiation (sender cannot deny sending a message, nor can receiver deny getting it)

All of this had to be standardized to allow interoperability (make it easy to transact with any potential trading partner).

Resistance to the Internet

A solution based on existing standards

Security provided by using RFC 2633 (S/MIME) (i.e., CLOSED systems).

S/MIME is based on RFC 1521, RFC 1847

Non-repudiation obtained by using RFC 2298 (MDN)

Define “Secure Transmission Loop” model

Formally the solution is given in RFC 3335 (S/MIME + MDN + SMTP)

Solution extended by AS2 (S/MIME + MDN + HTTP|HTTPS)

Note: “AS” means “Applicability Statement”

A Solution based on Existing Standards

S mime

For signing, Multipart/Signed (i.e., CLOSED systems).

Content-Type: multipart/signed; boundary="as2BouNdary1as2"; protocol="application/pkcs7-signature"; micalg=sha1

To carry signed, encrypted objects

Content-type: application/pkcs7-mime; smime-type=enveloped-data; name=smime.p7m

pkcs7 uses RSA public key cryptography and X.509 certificates.

Encrypt with partner’s public key

Sign with your own private key

Requires that partners exchange certificates.


Secure transmission loop

Sender signs and encrypts data using S/MIME. (i.e., CLOSED systems).

Sender transmits message, requesting MDN.

Receiver decrypts data and authenticates sender.

Receiver creates and signs MDN and transmits to sender.

Secure Transmission Loop

Question: How can a sender correlate an MDN with any of the unacknowledged messages?

Synchronous or asynchronous mdn

Sender may ask receiver for synchronous or asynchronous MDN (i.e., CLOSED systems).

Synchronous MDN is returned on same HTTP session.

Asynchronous MDN is returned on separate HTTP session initiated by original receiver.

Most AS2 transactions use synchronous MDNs

Can you think of reasons why one method is better than the other?

Which one is harder to manage?


Synchronous or Asynchronous MDN

Synchronous or asynchronous mdn1
Synchronous or Asynchronous MDN (i.e., CLOSED systems).

Synchronous AS2-MDN

[C] ----( connect )----> [S]

[C] -----( send )------> [S] [HTTP Request [AS2-Message]]

[C] <---( receive )----- [S] [HTTP Response [AS2-MDN]]

Asynchronous AS2-MDN

[C] ----( connect )----> [S]

[C] -----( send )------> [S] [HTTP Request [AS2-Message]]

[C] <---( receive )----- [S] [HTTP Response]

[C]*<---( connect )----- [S]

[C] <--- ( send )------- [S] [HTTP Request [AS2-MDN]]

[C] ----( receive )----> [S] [HTTP Response]

As2 message identification

AS2 defines new headers that identify the sender and the receiver:

AS2-from: <as2-name>

AS2-to: <as2-name>

From RFC 822 we use the message-id: header to identify this message.

The message-id: is returned in an MDN as original-message-id: field.

AS2 Message Identification

Question: why do we need AS2 sender and receiver Ids? Isn’t the IP address sufficient?

Example as2 request signed but not encrypted
Example AS2 Request receiver:(signed but not encrypted)

POST /invoke/wm.EDIINT/receive HTTP/1.1


User-Agent: AS2 Company Server

Date: Wed, 31 Jul 2002 13:34:50 GMT

From: mrAS2@as2.com

AS2-Version: 1.1

AS2-From: as2Name

AS2-To: 0123456780000

Subject: G1 Test Case

Message-Id: <200207310834482A70BF63@\"~~foo~~\">

Disposition-Notification-To: mrAS2@as2.com

Disposition-Notification-Options: signed-receipt-protocol=optional,pkcs7-signature; signed-receipt-micalg=optional,sha1

These request signed, synchronous MDN

Example as2 request continued
Example AS2 Request (continued) receiver:

Content-Type: multipart/signed; boundary="as2BouNdary1as2"; protocol="application/pkcs7-signature"; micalg=sha1

Content-Length: 2464


Content-Type: application/edi-x12

Content-Disposition: Attachment; filename=rfc1767.dat

[ISA ...EDI transaction data...IEA...]


Content-Type: application/pkcs7-signature

[omitted binary pkcs7 signature data]


Edi over the internet

Synchronous MDN Example receiver:

HTTP/1.1 200 OK

AS2-From: 0123456780000

AS2-To: as2Name

AS2-Version: 1.1

Message-ID: <709700825.1028122454671.JavaMail@ediXchange>

Content-Type: multipart/signed; micalg=sha1;protocol="application/pkcs7-signature"; boundary="----=_Part_57_648441049.1028122454671"

Connection: Close

Content-Length: 1980

Note: the Message-Id is the ID for THIS MDN!

Synchronous mdn example
Synchronous MDN Example receiver:


Content-Type: message/disposition-notification

Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

Reporting-UA: AS2 Server

Original-Recipient: rfc822; 0123456780000

Final-Recipient: rfc822; 0123456780000

Original-Message-ID: <200207310834482A70BF63@\"~~foo~~\">

Received-content-MIC: 7v7F++fQaNB1sVLFtMRp+dF+eG4=, sha1

Disposition: automatic-action/MDN-sent-automatically;processed


{Followed by a signature multipart}

This is the ID of the message that MDN acknowledges.

As2 reality

In 2002, Wal-Mart decreed that it would accept ONLY AS2 transactions, and ordered all trading partners to switch to AS2.

Most other major retailers would soon follow suit.

Today, it appears that the retail industry has adopted AS2 as its EDI transport, but other industry segments have yet to commit to AS2.

Other options in use for secure EDI are:

FTP/S (FTP using TLS).

S/FTP (FTP using IPSEC).


Between interconnects (the VANS), EDI is sent “in the clear” using FTP!

AS2 Reality

Impact of internet on edi

The migration from proprietary EDI networks to the Internet has dramatically lowered the cost of EDI services.

Before the Internet, costs were typically $.20/KC or more

Today, costs are under 0.10/KC

Startup costs are lower because users no longer need special telecom setup.

Just need a PC and an ISP!

Consequently, EDI is now accessible to many more businesses then ever.

Impact of Internet on EDI

Final thoughts

Standards are important - they facilitate interoperability has dramatically lowered the cost of EDI services.

To become “popular”, any new standard must present a low “barrier to entry”

Must be easy to implement

Must not require any (significant) changes to current business practices

Build “new” technologies by applying existing technologies.

The Internet and its related protocols are examples of this philosophy.

Final Thoughts