EDI Communications With SARS
The basic functionality of EDI enabling software, usually known as the EDI translator/converter, is that of translation of incoming messages from a message standard such as UN/EDIFACT to a company’s internal in-house file format and vice-versa for outgoing messages. However, in addition to the translator functionality, off-the-shelf EDI software packages will also contain additional functionality which usually include conversion of multiple message standards and message versions, maintenance of trading partner profiles, application interfaces, a communications module to communicate directly or via one or more third party value added networks, management information on incoming and outgoing messages including audit trails, manual menu driven data-entry modules and security or access control by way of passwords.
Once the data from an application has been converted from an in-house file format to a standard message format by means of the EDI software, the data must be communicated or physically transferred to the intended message recipient. Returning to the analogy of human communication and languages, even if everybody in a group speaks the same language, if everybody would try to speak at once, the result would once again most probably be chaos. Data communications also require some form of discipline in order to achieve an orderly transfer of information and this is accomplished through communication protocols. In addition, there will be several possible telecommunication network options that will carry the function of transfer medium for the data communications. Some of these options include the Internet, point-to-point private leased line communications, use of the public telephone network or a public data or packet switched network or a third party valueadded network service. SARS currently uses the X.400 communications protocol as well as the Internet AS/2 and AS/3 EDIINT protocols for message transfer between itself and its trading partners.
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