The following is an excerpt of CommerceNet Sponsors EDI Over Internet Initiative; Digitally-Signed EDI Data is Exchanged Successfully for the First Time.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, January 27, 1997 -- CommerceNet, the premier industry association for Internet commerce, today announced the successful results of its ongoing initiative to demonstrate and promote the interoperable exchange of EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) data over the Internet. The announcement was made at the RSA Data Security Conference in San Francisco.

During the week of January 20, five participating EDI vendors in the initiative exchanged digitally-signed data, marking the first time that such an event has occurred. Those organizations are Actra Business Systems (a Netscape/GEIS company), AT&T, Digital Equipment Corporation, Premenos and Sterling Commerce.

VeriSign, Inc. is providing third-party digital authentication services for many test participants through its Get-rEDI Digital ID Center (sm), a Web-based enrollment site. Authentication, in the form of VeriSign Digital IDs (sm), verifies the identity of parties in an electronic transaction and ensures the integrity of messages.

The complete list of initiative participants includes: Actra Business Systems, Atlas Products International, AT&T, CyberPath, DanNet, Digital Equipment Corporation, EDS, Harbinger, Premenos, Sterling Commerce and U.S. Department of Defense.

Jay M. Tenenbaum, CommerceNet founder and chairman, said, "CommerceNet is pleased to sponsor the first-ever demonstration of interoperable and secureEDI on the Internet. As today's news proves, the initiative takes us beyond theorizing to actual implementation. Migrating successful technologies such as EDI to more cost-effective solutions is a win-win strategy."

Stratton Sclavos, president and CEO of VeriSign, Inc., added, "EDI systems have traditionally been expensive and closed. By spearheading the effort to demonstrate open EDI across a public network, CommerceNet is helping to accelerate the adoption of EDI. We are excited to be a part of this groundbreaking initiative."

The Benefits of Interoperability
"The Internet's ease of use and accessibility will help expand the benefits of electronic commerce to a broader trading community," said Charles Stambaugh, vice president of marketing for Sterling Commerce's Commerce Service Group. "As a leading value-added services and software provider, Sterling Commerce is pleased to participate in this exciting pilot project."

"A lack of choice of EDI software vendors has been the major inhibitor of Internet-based EDI to date. Once the interoperability initiative ends, users will have a choice of EDI software vendors, regardless of the vendor selected by their trading partners," said Lincoln Yarbrough, product manager, Actra Business Systems and CommerceNet pilot team leader.

Wayne Toye, EDI marketing manager at Digital Equipment Corporation, added, "We are excited by the business benefits this initiative provides for companies wanting to exchange secure EDI transactions over the Internet. We look forward to our continuing participation in the ongoing CommerceNet demonstration and testing."

"AT&T is committed to making it safe and easy for businesses to conduct electronic commerce over the Internet. Participation in this program helps keep us at the forefront of technological innovation to help our customers grow their businesses," said AT&T's Jim Daniell, electronic messaging and new business development vice president.

"Premenos is a strong advocate of open standards and adheres to them in developing its electronic commerce products," said Steve Botts, director of Templar product management for Premenos. "It's gratifying to see others following and adopting the methodology and standards implemented in Templar to secure EDI on the Internet."

About EDI
EDI is a fast and dependable way to exchange business documents using computer-to-computer communication between different companies. Early EDI systems were proprietary and expensive, establishing barriers to entry and to the open exchange of documents. EDI has historically been used to improve only discrete processes such as automating the accounts payable function or the funds transfer process. Internet technologies enable a new paradigm for EDI. Increased interoperability will make EDI easier and less expensive to implement. The new focus for EDI, using the Internet for electronic commerce, is bridging the external and internal business processes which will enable companies to improve their productivity beyond what has been possible previously. Companies can now enter orders and purchases; do accounts payable; transfer funds; and link seamlessly to suppliers, distributors, customers, banks and transportation carriers. An open, interactive EDI allows completion of the entire business transaction point-to-point.

Background on the Initiative
The CommerceNet initiative consists of three phases of testing:

  • During Phase I, participants successfully demonstrated the exchange of EDI documents over SMTP (Simple Mail Transport Protocol) using MIME (Multi-purpose Internet Mail Extensions). The participating companies completed this phase at the end of 1996.

  • Phase II, now underway, covers security with signature and encryption. This includes adding S/MIME (Secure/ Multi-purpose Internet Mail Extensions) encryption and integrity technology (see PGP is optional, but no vendors have selected PGP yet. Phase II will also include the use of certificates, both self-issued and from VeriSign.

  • In Phase III, the participating companies will test receipt requests and signed and unsigned receipts.

For technical information related to the initiative, please contact project lead Rik Drummond, The Drummond Group, Tel: 817-294-7339. Email:

CommerceNet is the premier industry association for promoting and building electronic commerce solutions on the Internet. Launched in April 1994 in Silicon Valley, CA, its membership has grown to over 200 companies and organizations worldwide. They include the leading banks, telecommunications companies, VANs, ISPs, online services, and software and services companies, as well as major end-users, who together are transforming the net into a global electronic marketplace. CommerceNet can be contacted at Tel: 415-858-1930; Fax: 415-858-1936; URL: (CN1A)

6th RSA Data Security Conference in 1997 Brochure can be downloaded here


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