AS2 CommunicationsAS2 has become a very popular method of EDI communication. Wikipiedia defines AS2 (Applicability Statement 2) as “specification about how to transport data securely and reliably over the internet.” By using digital certificates and encryption, both sender and recipient can ensure the information is secure. The AS2 software creates a digital envelope for data to be sent over the internet using either HTTP or HTTPS protocol. These protocols are what the Internet is built on. Furthermore, communicating your EDI data to your trading partners via AS2 creates a “point to point” connection. This “point to point” connection is sometimes required by retailers…in fact, AS2 communication has almost become synonymous with Wal-Mart.
One of the biggest benefits of AS2 is that for companies that have large amounts of data being transmitted to a small number of trading partners, AS2 as a VAN alternative is often more cost effective than a traditional VAN. Most traditional VANs charge monthly based on your volume of data, whereas once you purchase AS2 software, your only cost is annual maintenance. Some EDI software packages even include AS2, such as Liaison Technologies ECS. In those cases, the AS2 can even be used to transmit data TO a traditional VAN if needed. So for those companies using AS2, EDI communication is secure and economical.
Some of the drawbacks to using AS2 communication include the need to ensure that you are protected from malicious attacks. It’s wise to remember that you are allowing information to come in from the Internet. The most typical method for ensuring that only data from trusted sources is received is through the use of a firewall which will filter the information according what rules are put in place. Another drawback is the need to manage digital certificates. Certificates expire and if you try to send data with expired certificates, your data may be rejected so it’s important to stay on top of them.