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What are VAN networks used for in EDI ?


Putting an EDI project into production requires reliable, secure communication between business partners. VAN networks have held a privileged position among all EDI network offerings since the very beginnings of EDI. This success is due to their reliability, security, ease of deployment and, above all, their interoperability with all EDI networks.

In this article, find out what EDI VANs are. How they work and how to implement them.



What is an EDI VAN network ?


“An EDI VAN network is like an e-mail system: EDI messages are e-mails.”

VAN (Value Added Network) networks are private, secure networks. Their role is to enable any type of company to send and receive EDI messages with all their trading partners, wherever they are and whatever type of EDI connection they have.


How it works


All you need is a single, secure connection to your VAN network provider. The company sends its EDI messages to the network, regardless of the final recipients. The VAN network then takes charge of them and routes them to each recipient in the communication format readable by the recipient. The message recipient may be connected to the same VAN network as the sender, or to any other EDI network.

At the receiving end, the VAN deposits messages in a mailbox, accessible 24/7. The company connects to its mailbox to retrieve the EDI messages intended for it. And integrate them into its Information System.


The VAN network is much more than just an intermediary between sender and receiver. VANs offer a whole range of services :

  • Authentication and identification of EDI partners,
  • Access to audit logs,
  • Sending of notifications,
  • Message encryption capabilities.


The advantages of EDI networks


With VAN EDI, companies have secure EDI access, independent of their information systems. VAN networks adapt perfectly to scalability, and are interoperable with all EDI platforms.


Technical independence


To access a VAN network and send and receive messages, all you need is a secure connection to the VAN network access provider. So you don’t have to worry about establishing secure connections with each of your EDI partners.

The VAN provider takes care of security and communication standards with the recipients.




VAN EDI networks work regardless of the number of business partners: 1, 2 or several dozen. For the company, the network connection always remains the same, with only the number of recipients and volumes exchanged changing. In fact, the network grows with the company’s EDI project in terms of the number of recipients, as well as the types and volumes of messages sent or received.




EDI VAN enables business-to-business EDI communications without having to worry about which network the partner companies subscribe to. EDI VAN handles the distribution of EDI messages to recipients, or to the networks to which recipients are connected. Each recipient is recognized by its EDI address, through the GLN, Global Location Number, which electronically identifies a company, establishment, site or location.



How do you set up a VAN EDI network ?


To implement a VAN EDI system, you first need to choose an EDI supplier capable of meeting your company’s functional requirements. But first you need to check that the company’s information system can communicate, and estimate the types of messages and volumes to be exchanged.




Company software must be able to send, receive and process EDI messages.

Most software publishers offer EDI modules for their applications. If you are unable to make your Information System communicative, a WEBEDI solution can enable you to send and receive EDI messages with as many trading partners as you wish.


The budget


The budget is divided into two items :

  • Implementation, which includes application settings, training, the cost of a secure connection with the VAN supplier, and software programming adaptations, if required.
  • Consumption, i.e. subscription to the VAN EDI network and consumption billed either by the number of messages sent and received, or by the volume of bytes transmitted. Suppliers often offer packages including subscription and flat-rate consumption.


It is generally accepted that an annual EDI VAN subscription, excluding consumption, starts at around €1,000 – €1,200, or €100 per month. It’s the way consumption is priced that differentiates the service providers. This last point should therefore be taken into consideration when choosing a supplier.


Choosing a supplier


In addition to pricing, there are other criteria for choosing an EDI access provider :


L’expertise sectorielle


In other words, the service provider’s ability to take into account the functional specificities of your business sector.

EDI messages contain information specific to each sector of activity: the needs of the retail, automotive, transport and healthcare sectors are not the same.

The presence of EDI service providers in the workgroups of various professional organizations such as GS1, GALIA and GTF, demonstrates their involvement in their customers’ businesses (NB : Tenor is an active member of these organizations, and regularly participates in thematic workgroups). And to be proactive in integrating evolutions and changes in EDI standards.


Assistance and support


Finally, it’s also important to take into account the service provider’s assistance and support offer to :

  • Integrate new business partners into your EDI network, and help you carry out all the necessary tests,
  • Have access to technical support adapted to your business constraints: public holidays, staggered working hours.



The future of VAN EDI


While the Internet and the AS2 protocol are now part of EDI VAN’s past, EDI VAN network providers have acquired expertise in electronic communication and security since the early days of EDI. Opting for EDI VAN is therefore the most suitable and secure solution for companies. The company will have access to EDI expertise, traceability and auditing services. It will also benefit from an interoperable, scalable network that will support it throughout its EDI project.


Contact our experts to identify your EDI needs and propose the best EDI solution for your project.