I have read, over the past weeks, a number of articles predicting that the VAN (Value Added Network), commonly used for EDI trading partner communications is dying a slow death. The latest article I read postulated that in the next year VAN traffic charges would be nil. Zero, no charge! Not sure I agree with that, but it is definitely a race to the bottom. In medical terms death can be slow or it can be quick. In the case of the VAN it is a tortuously slow death.
The race to the bottom has been precipitated by a number of things, shrinkage in North American retail, the rise of point to point communications over the internet – AS2 among the most obvious. In the early days of AS2 you had to ensure your software solution was certified. Certification was a nice way for retailers to force people to buy a particular solution because it was safe, tested and certified. Wal-Mart who was an early adopter soon realised how unnecessary this certification was and dropped the requirement of its trading partners. Today we rarely hear about certification as a requirement because AS2 is so common place. Times do change!
So what has happened is that AS2 has slowly eaten away at traditional VAN traffic. It’s been a slow steady decline as AS2 takes over. Why? Simply because AS2 does not involve a monthly invoice for a mailbox, traffic usage and bunch of other impossible to understand charges that make up the VAN bill. AS2 actually takes costs out of the supply chain and that’s a good thing.
So is the VAN dead? Not yet but it is very close. As companies revamp infrastructure and rethink their integration platforms the single purpose EDI solution will be replaced with a more comprehensive integration middleware solution. Moving traffic off the VAN and on to AS2 should be as simple as setting up a new partner. If your solution needs revamping or cannot handle AS2 elegantly, without lots of cost overhead then check out what we offer.