Connecting to Partners Using EDI Through BizTalk Server

Dutch gas transporter taps Covast for connectivity solution to make online trading more efficient

Atlanta — March 18, 2004 — A division of Dutch gas giant N.V. Nederlandse Gasunie has deployed a connectivity solution from Covast to provide electronic data interchange (EDI) functionality to its trading partners.

Gastransport Services (GTS) is a division of Nederlandse Gasunie, the largest gas transportation company in the Netherlands. A primary mission of GTS is to facilitate the transportation of gas throughout the Netherlands, and the company has to communicate with a large number of partner companies that buy, sell and trade gas and rely on GTS as the intermediary engaged in gas transport.

To serve its partners, GTS needs to know how much gas is involved, when and what point the gas goes into the GTS network and at what stage it goes out. Protocols based on EDI (specifically, EdiG@s) have been established within the gas industry to facilitate communications among the various market players.

Internally, GTS uses Microsoft's BizTalk Server 2000 for application integration. However, the company was not utilizing BizTalk Server to communicate with external parties.

The company is using AS2 as a security protocol and wanted to start using EDI for business communications. But the company needed more than BizTalk 2000 to support AS2 and the chosen EDI specifications it sought to utilize. Covast provides a recommended EDI solution for BizTalk Server.

"We chose Covast's EDI Accelerator based on Microsoft's recommendation of Covast as their select EDI partner," said Norbert Ploeger, a technical architect at GTS. "Because we had integrated our internal applications using BizTalk, we wanted a product that integrated with BizTalk Server easily. The whole messaging process is seamless. When the message comes in, the process is one uninterrupted transaction."

After the system went live January 1, the whole process of business communication has been automated using Covast and Microsoft BizTalk Server integrated with back-office systems.

"Because GTS has XML and BizTalk as a corporate standard for their internal applications, a very important aspect of the system for the company is the fact that Covast does the translation from EDI to XML," said Daan Scheer, CEO of Covast. "Along with AS2 support, the ability to translate EDI to XML has been and continues to be a very important value proposition across our customer base."

In terms of business objectives, a key goal for GTS was to deploy this system to better respond to the recently deregulated gas market in the Netherlands. All of GTS' internal systems needed to be ready to cope with this new paradigm in which GTS has to facilitate in transporting gas for several parties.

Now GTS partners are connected through a virtual private network (VPN) that was set up between all partners and serves as a shared network. Covast acts as a messaging gateway to the VPN and BizTalk Server is the application broker connecting together all of Gasunie's various applications.

Currently, the system serves 58 trading partners, although Gasunie is expecting that figure to grow considerably in 2004. They are averaging several thousand EDI messages a month between all trading partners on the VPN.

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