I was reminded the other day, that once a upon a time in the world of EDI-INIT the only way you could do AS2 was to use a Drummond certified and listed product. This was religiously enforced by retailers who were hell bent on attaining a level of interoperable purity.
For those who don’t know what AS2 is, it is point-to-point communications over the Internet for data using an HTTP/S protocol and a digitally encrypted payload. In the days before the recession hit North America you did AS2 without a Drummond certified product under pain of death. There were and probably still are retailers who enforce this but today it’s a thing of the past. AS2 is now so mainstream that I rarely hear Drmmond Group and Drummond certification anymore. Since Walmart did away with the requirement its a nonissue in the retail world.
This week though I had a retro blast from the past! Ontario’s Smart Meter program – E-Meter includes a repository that local utilities must upload smart meter data to. Ok great I thought, its AS2 communications which we can handle with ECS Server and yes we can handle the XML with Delta. Cool! The platform is called MDM/R it is the central repository in Ontario where all smart meter data goes to live. The repository is managed by the IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator). So as I was going through the document with a potential customer, I thought great we can do all this, all we need is the data source from the local distribution company and we are away to the races. Well not so fast there Smith. There buried on page 10 of the document was a section on AS2 software. One line buried in the paragraph read “You are responsible for obtaining AS2 software from one of the vendors of the current Drummond Group AS2 interoperability testing certification list”. So there it was plain as day – we were shut out. No self-respecting distribution company in Ontario would select an AS2 software package that was not Drummond certified list, because the IESO demanded it. Some consultant, back in 2008, who put the document together probably had no clue whether AS2 needed Drummond certification or not – it was common wisdom at the time. Drummond doesn’t certify FTP or SMPT/POP3, which like AS2 all have public RFC’s. So why AS2? I can speculate but I won’t.
So will the IESO e-meter AS2 requirement change? Not in my lifetime! It only goes to show you how fast technology is changing and how people’s perceptions of what are required changes. By demanding Drummond certification IESO is making things more expensive all round for those implementing connectivity into the MDM/R system. For those out there who want affordable and non-host based AS2 software check out ECS Server. It’s fully interoperable with lots of other AS2 systems.
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