Electronic Document Interchange (EDI) is not really the cutting edge of technology these days. Most of the time we used all kinds of home made solutions to transform documents from one format into another, and then route it to a customer’s mailbox to pick be picked up later using FTP or something similar.
Granted, we still make a lot money doing it this way, but as we see the industry as a whole moving to the cloud, the next logical question is to ask when EDI moves to the cloud? Now, I know that the cloud definition varies depending on who you are talking to. I have seen people using the cloud term to describe things we have done for 10 years without making any note worthy changes.
Looking at the economics of EDI there is little doubt that any customer is more or less bound to a single vendor, depending on the level of integration of course. In other words, it is not a simple task to move all your mappings etc. from one vendor to another without incurring substantial costs, not to mention the risk of things going wrong and messing up an entire document flow.
Granted, I am not an EDI guy myself as such, however, I do design systems that are dependent of document transformation in and out of the application, so it was not without a certain degree of enthusiasm that I noticed that Windows Azure will be supporting EDI transformations:
Windows Azure Service Bus EAI & EDI Labs provides integration capabilities for the Windows Azure Platform to extend on-premises applications to the cloud, provides rich messaging endpoints to process and transform messages, and helps organizations integrate disparate applications, both on cloud and on-premises
I really ought to have a closer look at the capabilities, but since I am currently being a lazy slob during my vacation I have not. However, it seems pretty interesting though, that creating your own transformations and routing set up via Windows Azure is pretty simple, that everyone now can more-or-less do it. I doubt we will see a disruption in the market based on this, EDI is very unsexy, but if the increasing interest in business integration and cloud service brokerage keeps gaining momentum I wonder if we might witness a host of smaller vendors that can offer these services very cheap.