AS4 is a relatively new B2B standard and is gaining traction globally. Do you need to start thinking about AS4? In this blog we will cover this new standard and discuss why it may make sense for you to consider this new standard in 2015.
B2B Integration typically uses a standard like SFTP or AS2 to exchange a document payload between two business partners. Whether it is as simple as sending and receiving invoices or as complex has handling an industry-specific sequence of transactions, B2B transactions involve a document or a message. Documents can be in any data format, older formats use EDI standard and the newer payload can be an XML document.
The usage of web-services for B2B Integration is gaining popularity. If you want to adopt web services for B2B then ebXML Messaging Services (ebMS) provide a secure way to send and receive documents/payloads/messages in a web services architecture. ebMS is very flexible, and therein lies the problem. This flexibility can make interoperability a challenge. Without the right rules (or constraints) in place, interoperability can be challenge and with B2B, interoperability is critical.
AS4 is one of the latest standards in B2B and the acronym stands for Applicability Statement 4. This is the next generation B2B standard following the older AS1, AS2 and AS3 standards. It provides a mechanism for exchanging B2B payloads using web services. This standard uses ebMS v3.0 and WS-* specifications for message, transport, security and non-repudiation. It builds upon the profile defined in AS2 spec and extends it. Using web-services for exchanging B2B transactions is nothing new but industry has been lacking a formal standardized approach to it. It provides push/pull capabilities to allow for sporadically or intermittently connected endpoints, which is common in emerging markets.
Three reasons it may make sense to use AS4 for your new B2B initiatives in 2015.
1. This is the only web-services based B2B standard and provides ebMS based payloads. If you have an extensive web-services infrastructure in your IT, then AS4 will fit right in. It is an natural evolution both in terms of transport and payloads.
2. Web Services based B2B interfaces are easier to expose externally and also easier for partners to adopt and test. They can accelerate your API initiatives if you are exposing APIs for Partner use.
3. As4 provides push/pull capabilities to allow for sporadically or intermittently connected endpoints, which is common in emerging markets. If you have newB2B initiatives in emerging markets, AS4 may be the answer.