For all the hype surrounding the emergence of the digital business, most business-to-business (B2B) transactions conducted today still revolve around electronic data interchange (EDI) transactions. The challenge with EDI is that each transaction is cumbersome to set up and expensive to manage on an ongoing basis.
Ken Yagen, vice president of products for MuleSoft, says that while it’s unlikely that organizations will be getting rid of billions of dollars in investments in EDI applications, the rise of the digital economy has proven that there is a tremendous amount of interest in making EDI processes more accessible. In fact, Yagen notes that MuleSoft is trying to bring together all the attributes associated with the API economy and the robustness of the EDI frameworks that most organizations have relied on for decades to conduct transactions.
As a byproduct of that endeavor, Yagen adds that organizations can also reduce their dependencies on value-added networks (VANs), which are often employed to reduce the complexity of conducting transactions over a B2B network. In their place, REST APIs make it simpler for many of those organizations to expose their EDI backend services to partners and suppliers without having to rely on a third-party network to provide that higher level of abstraction.
In effect, MuleSoft is making a concerted effort to apply a modern platform—that is considerably lighter weight than legacy integration frameworks that were developed to support more point-to-point approaches—to integration. It seems that the days of trying to conduct transactions by exposing EDI protocols and services to customers may finally be giving way to a much nimbler API approach.