When Optional Isn’t an Option: Keys to the Best AS2 Software
Would you purchase a vehicle – the one that carts your entire family around – that had been rigorously tested for head-on collisions but not for side-impact ones, which account for about 25% of all traffic collisions?
Could you count on a watch that told the right time only most of the time? What if the balance wheel or hairspring inside these mechanical devices was only tested for a limited number of altitudes or climates? Would you buy it?
The majority of companies go through appropriate testing processes to validate the functionality, safety, and usability of their products. But if they just certify the main features – the ones they deem important – does that really mean the product is certified?
The Drummond Group certifies a number of advanced communication protocols, AS2 being one of them, and not many AS2 software vendors go through every Drummond test, even the optional ones.
Here’s a little about AS2 and why it matters to succeed in every testing process.
What is AS2?
Because of its expansive security features and reliable, flexible transmission capabilities, AS2 is one of the most popular and mandated protocols in the business world. Organizations use AS2 to facilitate EDI transactions (purchase orders, advanced shipment notices, invoices, payments, remittance files) and other standardized messages.
With its ability to securely exchange documents quickly and reliably over the Internet, AS2 has been widely adopted across industries. Some of the main highlights of AS2 communication include:
- Added security/privacy: End-to-end data encryption ensures the information in transit is secure. SSL encryption on the pipe, as well as hashing, also deliver added security.
- Flexibility: Almost any type of data can be transmitted.
- Authentication: Digital signatures validate the authenticity and integrity of a message or digital document.
- Nonrepudiation: The use of digital certificates confirms the document was actually sent by the claimed sender, and just as important, received by the intended recipient.
- Confirmation: The AS2 standard provides a status message called the Message Disposition Notification (MDN) to indicate whether the document was successfully delivered.
- Low cost: Facilitates point-to-point communication thereby reducing the need to outsource to managed services. It’s very much like directly dialing long distance from your phone as opposed to seeking assistance from a phone company operator to place a call.
Why Cleo AS2 is the Best AS2
Cleo’s AS2 has been Drummond Group-certified since 2002 — passing every test, every time. Cleo’s certification includes the optional tests for critical features every AS2 protocol should have, including:
- Certificate Exchange Messaging (CEM) for automated certificate management
- AS2 Restart for a more efficient and reliable transfer of large files
- Chunked Transfer Encoding
- Filename Preservation with Multiple Attachments
- SHA-2 for the emerging requirement for signing messages using secure hash algorithm 2
Some notes about three very cool features in leading AS2 software solutions:
- Automated certificate management: CEM was an initiative begun in 2003 to automate the certificate exchange process, and interest in CEM-capable solutions continues to grow because of the significant time savings compared with the manual replacement effort. Perhaps even better, it helps to ensure no communication downtime between you and your valued customers and critical supply chain.
- AS2 Restart: This feature eliminates the need to resend the entire message when connections fail. The server picks up where the transmission left off, saving time and system resources. This is especially true when a communication hiccup occurs 80% of the way through a very large file. Why resend all of the data that already successfully made it through?
- SHA-2 compliant: Canada’s Telecom Decision CRTC 2015-435 mandates TSPs to use SHA-2 encryption by mid-2016. Few data integration companies that’s been certified in every Drummond SHA-2 test since that option was introduced in 2012, and use of SHA-2 encryption is only gaining in popularity. Ask Microsoft and Facebook.
Leading MFT and integration vendors test to ensure customers and partners get the most value for their money and can have full faith that the software will work for all of their business needs, now and in the future.
Coupled with the fastest setup (within two hours) of an AS2 connection, these are just some of the reasons Cleo became the favorite AS2 vendor for Walmart suppliers in the wake of the retail giant’s 2002 mandate. Cleo led the way with standards work and Walmart to make AS2 implementation happen on a much bigger scale.
We’ve got much more reading on the history of AS2 and what leading organizations look for when choosing AS2 software.
And remember, not all AS2 – and not even all certified AS2 software – is equally able to serve your organization’s requirements.