EDI is electronically communicating with business or trading partners. The most important component of that is the actual communication between the two parties. There were times when this was done by exchanging physical discs. Unsurprisingly this was found to be inefficient and communicating via data links was adopted.
There are two ways to use communication links to transfer the EDI data. The first is to use in-house links. The other is to use an EDI provider of a VAN, also known as a Value Added Network. There are some major benefits of using VANS over in-house links:
When using VANS, the only concern is the link between the organization and the VAN. Any compatibility issues with other partners is not a concern. It is also much easier to manage than individual links to multiple partners. The links between the VAN and the partner is their concern. The organization need only be concerned about the EDI services.
Most of the information that occurs between business partners is confidential. VANS provide a high level of security. Not only is the communication password protected, but the actual arrangements to send and receive packets has to be set up in advance on both ends.
There are complete audit trails available for all transactions. Due to the electronic nature of the system, everything is just a click away. However, not all service providers have audit trails enabled. It should be one of the requirements when selecting VANS.