The recent acquisition of GXS by Open Text earlier this month has ended the era of EDI VANs (Value Added Networks). Major corporations typically tend to run and manage their own B2B interchanges but rely on VANs for tail end connectivity.
This acquisition causes every company relying on VANs for B2B Integration to re-think their B2B strategy.
EDI VANs came into being in eighties enabling companies to exchange data over X.25 and X400 protocols. They became even more popular in nineties as the explosion in data caused companies to exchange more documents with Partners and that meant more business for the VAN companies. The VAN usage stopped growing in the last decade as more and more companies started to exchange their B2B documents themselves as it's more cost effective and gives more visibility and control over the process. The wide adoption of B2B Gateways caused the decline in VAN usage over the last decade.
Companies especially SMB businesses have traditionally shied away from handling B2B transaction themselves as the B2B standards and protocols are complex to adopt and maintain. They have relied on VAN and Managed Services providers to handle their B2B transactions for them. VANs started disappearing one by one in the last decade and now all the major VAN providers have disappeared. Although the services they provide still exist but its hard to predict how long they will last as the usage continues to decline and its not a hugely profitable business to run.
If you use a VAN to exchange your crucial B2B transactions, what's your plan B2B. Are you going to do something about taking ownership of your B2B Integration or wait till you get that letter in the mail saying that the services will be terminated soon. Make it a goal for 2014, adopt a B2B Gateway and stop relying on decades old technology to move your data.