IT companies are starting to offer low-cost or free products to provide business-to-business connectivity. Analyst firm Gartner sees this as a shift in the way such software is sold.
One example of this is /N Software, which plans to offer a "public preview" version of its AS2 adapter, which enables Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) connectivity with a single B2B trading partner.
AS2 is an internet standard for providing process-to-process, real-time EDI based on the protocols Mime and HTTP. The standard aims to provide a way for businesses to exchange information electronically in a secure manner over the internet using standard protocols.
Gartner said businesses were looking at AS2 in areas such as global data synchronisation efforts in the retail industry. Users need to support multiple standards in order to connect to business partners and Gartner believes that the most successful B2B technology is based on service oriented architectures, which provide the ability to compose processes that facilitate a range of connectivity mechanisms, including AS2 and EBXML Message Service.
Gartner analyst Frank Kenney recommended that users running B2B technology that does not support AS2 should look at /N Software's free system as an adjunct to their established infrastructure.