Loren Data Corp: The VAN of VANs

Todd Gould, Founder and CEO When Todd Gould and the Loren Data Corp. team set out to design ECGrid in 1999, they created a Value-Added-Network (VAN) for other value-added-networks and service providers, instead of creating one for end-users. This approach to the VAN enabled the service providers to focus on the value-added part of their customer-facing solutions and services, while experts at Loren Data reliably handle all the backend processes relating to the exchange of data between multiple networks. More importantly, it empowered Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) players to seamlessly interconnect with other value-added-networks, reaping a multitude of rewards derived through ECGrid.

Prior to 1999, every time a service provider entered the market, they would have to individually negotiate a peering agreement with every other service provider in the market. While this process was manageable with the initial emergence of internet-VAN service providers, the agreement negotiation soon became a hassle, as hundreds of players joined the network to become EDI providers.

When Loren Data stepped out to create ‘the VAN of VANs’ (a phrase coined by renowned EDI industry expert William Kammerer), they were quick to realize that the needs of the electronic commerce service providers vastly differ from the needs of the end users. EDI solution providers had to take into account the multiple characteristics that come into play when orchestrating a VAN network, and the different types of applications to be taken into consideration when connecting with other EDI systems in the marketplace. At these crossroads, the Loren Data team came up with the idea of using coded URLs with requests on the web, which would then prompt the relay of formatted data in response, fed into a machine instead of an end-user. They defined this function as web services within their design spec at a time when web services had not yet been defined or popularized as it is today. With the emergence of Web Services, ECGrid evolved into a 100 percent web services-based infrastructure, with API-driven functions for interoperability.

“We start where the legacy EDI ends,” says Todd Gould, founder and CEO of Loren Data. He goes on to say, “While the previous innovators of EDI were instrumental in nurturing the technology from a conceptual stage to an actual network with great systems in place, the utility of EDI ended there. We picked up this transformational technology to make it available as a tool or a platform based on of web services.”

Today, the ECGridOS infrastructure stands tall as an operating system that sits atop this web services architecture, acting as the congruence of networks, mailboxes, users, and interconnects. All communication gateways, data exchange routes, and endpoints talk to ECGrid’s web services architecture, and ECGrid enables users to run reports, conduct audits, perform billing operations, and more. On the developer end of the ECGrid ecosystem, experts at Loren Data create and roll out applications, communication protocols, and JSON XML configurations on the web services architecture. As a key takeaway, ECGrid can be directly used by service providers, adding to their technology stack, and giving the ability to effortlessly integrate their systems into Loren Data web services without a separate portal.
Clients implementing the ECGrid ecosystem can write relevant configuration codes into their internal systems for the seamless creation of mailboxes and tracking functionalities when a new user is added to customer-facing applications. Likewise, with the push of a button, clients can programmatically import new customers, create relevant mailboxes and build the necessary interconnects with autonomy through APIs. This approach negates the requirement of training new people to oversee such onboarding processes or navigate EDI implementation protocols that are detrimental to productivity.
Jon Gatrell, Chief Product Officer and Tony D’Angelo, Chief Strategy Officer
“Our clients, with a simple snippet of code, can integrate their existing business systems. With full visibility they can drill all the way down through our systems to trace a document and obtain the history of everything that passed through the supply chain without ever leaving the application environment they normally perform their jobs in - such as an ERP or a WMS solution,” explains Jon Gatrell, Chief Product Officer at Loren Data. ECGridOS serves as proof of transactions occurring on a supply chain, enabling clients to confirm the receipt of invoices as deemed necessary. It also functions as a development platform, a service platform, and a network platform—a true technological differentiator in contrast with contemporaries—which ensures that clients can focus on delivering best-of-breed tools to their customers within their domain expertise, while Loren Data guarantees resilience in EDI workflows. Loren Data strengthens its clients as the backbone of EDI, while their own expertise is channeled toward more productive avenues of the enterprise.

Our Clients Can Effortlessly Initiate A Simple Coding In Their Business System, Drilling All The Way Down Through Our Systems To Trace A Document And Obtain The History Of Everything That Passed Through The Ecosystem Without Ever Leaving The Application Environment

Loren Data has resolved numerous hindrances for clients, all the while helping them achieve strategic objectives within their business. An example of such collaborative efforts can be seen through its engagement with a Fortune 50 retailer, who approached them with a concern that most EDI players shared. Primarily, a majority of EDI experts at the time were growing frustrated with service levels and the bottom-line value derived through VANs.
Most of the retailers and EDI hubs within the United States started offloading trading partners to AS2 for a direct internet connection, which allowed them to pay a fixed price for the software and/or connection, and essentially run as much traffic as they wished. This exponential rise in traffic led to an equally critical bottleneck. As business volume increased with the number of trading partners, each EDI service provider surpassed a magic number beyond which the environment was deemed unfeasible. They had to turn toward a multi-node clustered system with expensive licenses, while also functioning as the first line of support for their customers due to the absence of a service provider at the other end of the VAN. Upon engaging with Loren Data the Fortune 50 retailer outsourced the role of a communication partner while they were focused on the value creation side of their business. Soon enough, the retailer welcomed the entirety of their vendor network within the ECGrid ecosystem and transferred all of their interconnects.

The Fortune 50 retailer successfully reallocated their resources to drive true value within their business. They were enhancing their own product in-house while reducing the number of resources necessary to manage the connections at the backend of their infrastructure. The retailer now deals with one technologically advanced company, instead of juggling multiple partners and interfaces that are counterproductive. For an enterprise that witnesses unprecedented levels of online traffic 24/7, with shoppers browsing and purchasing items every second, the resources saved through this outsourcing initiative proved invaluable in the long run, generating tremendous value in the backend.

“Let us think of EDI networks as a telephone service and assume that you’ve got the greatest telephone service in the world. Regardless of how innovative the service is, the telephone network has to connect with every other telephone network in existence,” says Tony D’Angelo, Chief Strategy Officer at Loren Data. He goes on to explain, “Without such interoperability, the telephone would be fairly limited in usability. On the other hand, once such interconnects are established with other service providers, you now have the ability to connect with anyone across the world, regardless of the technology being used to access the network. Someone can be using a plain old rotary dial phone while the receiver on the other end could be using the latest internet-based smartphone.”

”While The Previous Innovators Of Edi Were Instrumental In Nurturing The Technology From A Conceptual Stage To An Actual Network With Great Systems In Place, The Utility Of Edi Ended There. We Picked Up This Transformational Technology To Make It Available As A Tool Or A Platform Based on Of Web Services”

D’Angelo’s comparison of the growth of telephone networks with the growth of EDI networks also sheds light on the companies that aspire to establish a foothold in the industry. These companies can exchange data by meeting network participants in the middle, irrespective of the technologies used at either end.

Likewise, many small and medium-sized businesses, booming from their infancy, have sought the expert guidance and technological infrastructure of Loren Data to scale business operations rapidly. The EDI expert offers these businesses the power to develop products and services and integrate value-added functions into their enterprise without being weighed down by the backend infrastructure. Instead, they can compete toe-to-toe with other VAN solution providers and offer differentiated products to end customers.

Loren Data Corp

Marina del Rey, California

Todd Gould, Founder and CEO and Jon Gatrell, Chief Product Officer and Tony D’Angelo, Chief Strategy Officer

Loren Data Corp empowers Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) players of the world to interconnect with other value added networks seamlessly, helping them enjoy the multitude of benefits derived through ECGrid

Loren Data Corp