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EDI Academy – Communication systems


More than the message and the software, one of the key points when setting up an EDI relationship is the communications system. In other words, the way the information reaches us. The peculiarity in this regard is that EDI calls for certain special security conditions.

Nowadays there are several alternatives, although Value Added Networks, also known as VANs, are by far the most widely-used system. These are private networks with high-level security and permanent monitoring to ensure proper sending and receipt of documents.

Trading partners using a VAN system receive a notification every time a message enters their mailbox. Beforehand, the interchange network will have verified the issuer’s identity and document validity. In addition, all messages are traced and recorded.

However, one of the biggest advantages of this communications system is the added value it provides: back-office integration, 24-hour availability, traceability records, or the option to fully outsource communications management (EDI outsourcing), among other benefits.


One of the most powerful VANs in the world is EDICOMNet, which processes over 90 million transactions annually. The network currently links up around 8000 partners from all over the world. Moreover, interoperability agreements signed with other large-scale VANs enable our users to communicate with any business partner, even if they do not form part of the network.

EDICOMNet is a multi-protocol network, which allows access through other systems such as web services, https, FTP and AS2, among others. In addition, it is able to channel all types of messages in any standard (EDIFACT, X12, XML, Facturae, etc.) and in high availability service. You can also prioritize your messages, setting up delivery or sending preferences depending on the transaction type, and immediacy is guaranteed thanks to data grouping and compression processes.

Other internet-based communication systems

In addition to VANs, there are other communication systems also used in EDI. We can highlight the following:

  • Web EDI. An alternative mainly designed for small and medium-sized businesses with a low volume of EDI transactions. Communications are held through a secure Internet portal, so no integration with the user’s system is required. This is a low-cost and swift rollout model.
  • Another Internet-based system, but less focused on SMEs. Secure communication is carried out by https, with encryption and digital signature. The advantage is that it enables the exchange of messages from anywhere with a connection. Nevertheless, the two parties in the business relation must be available at the same time to make the transaction possible. This is why the majority of those choosing this alternative decide to engage the services of a specialist service provider such as EDICOM that is “always alert”.
  • FTP (File Transfer Protocol) This was the first ever reliable file exchange protocol and is currently still widely used, especially for in-house messages within the company. However, FTP is not sufficiently secure to carry out transactions with other businesses via internet, so it is complemented with VPN software. Even so, it is necessary to have an external service provider to manage messages properly and ensure interoperability.

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