EDI provides a technical basis for commercial "conversations" between two entities, either internal or external. Note the perception that "EDI" constitutes the entire electronic data interchange paradigm, including the transmission, message flow, document format, and software used to interpret the documents. EDI standards describe the rigorous format of electronic documents. EDI is very useful in supply chains.
The EDI standards were designed by the implementers, initially in the Automotive industry, to be independent of communication and software technologies. EDI can be transmitted using any methodology agreed to by the sender and recipient. This includes a variety of technologies, including modem (asynchronous and synchronous), FTP, e-mail, HTTP, AS1, AS2, etc. It is important to differentiate between the EDI documents and the methods for transmitting them. When they compared the synchronous protocol 2400 bit/s modems, CLEO devices, and value-added networks used to transmit EDI documents to transmitting via the Internet, some people equated the non-Internet technologies with EDI and predicted erroneously that EDI itself would be replaced along with the non-Internet technologies. These non-internet transmission methods are being replaced by Internet protocols such as FTP, telnet, and e-mail, but the EDI documents themselves still remain.
As more trading partners use the Internet for transmission, standards have emerged. In 2002, the IETF published RFC 3335, offering a standardized, secure method of transferring EDI data via e-mail. On July 12, 2005, an IETF working group ratified RFC4130 for MIME-based HTTP EDIINT (a.k.a. AS2) transfers, and is preparing a similar RFC for FTP transfers (a.k.a. AS3). While some EDI transmission has moved to these newer protocols, the providers of the value-added networks remain active.
EDI documents generally contain the same information that would normally be found in a paper document used for the same organizational...
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