The Power of AS4: The Best New Solution for B2B Messaging

A rather recent standard, AS4 has caught the attention of the industries where security and reliability are critical in business operations but also by organizations wanting to expand their B2B/B2G/B2C proficiency. We’ve talked about AS4 as the next step in secure file transfers before but we’d like to share the specifics about what makes it our new favorite solution.

The AS4 protocol is picking up traction, particularly in the oil and gas industries as well as with many governmental and international agencies. But what exactly is AS4 and why are these industries making its implementation mandatory? AS4 covers a unique combination of specifications but stands out when it comes to security and push and pull messaging capabilities.

Why choose AS4?

The protocol’s main features include:

  • Interoperability: Being an OASIS standard, it works with other standards such as MIME, SOAP and WS-Security.
  • Security: Using a subset of WS-Security, AS4 ensures data confidentiality.
  • Reliability: Guaranteeing once and only once delivery there is no worry about if messages have been delivered or not.
  • Payload Versatility: AS4 supports and exchanges payloads of all types and combinations being sent in a single message including XML, JSON, HL7, EDI or Binary.

Who’s using AS4?

Because of these features, AS4 was recently implemented and proven effective with the eSENS project in Europe. Through FLAME, we were involved with the project and able to see its completion first hand. The eSENS project made it mandatory for all member states of the EU to use AS4 for e-message delivery during all cross border communication. The project aimed to unlock the potential of cross-border e-services and strengthen the Digital Single Market in Europe, which it did.

Because AS4 is a combination of web services and AS2, it is a perfect protocol for organizations requiring heightened security but also applications for effective messaging and data transfers. A sort of “hybrid” protocol, it’s useful to organizations of all sizes. There are several different options, including Flame’s Light Client and Light Client API that were designed for small businesses and the Flame MessageServer which is compatible with medium and large enterprises. Any organizations communicating with governmental bodies, oil or gas companies, or even sharing personal data of EU residents (GDPR) will need to be running AS4 in order to comply with new industry and government regulations.

How can it help your business?

Secure messaging is a large component of AS4 and is reflected in the several options of message types and exchange patterns that it offers. Messaging types include both user messages and signal messages where signal messages communicate with the messenger with ‘receipt’, ‘error, or ‘pull request’ messages. Messengers are assured of their connection and immediately informed of their messages’ statutes, taking the guesswork out of sensitive file and data transfers. Businesses must be able to rely on their solutions to keep data secure, especially in transit, and this is where AS4 excels the most.

AS4 is no doubt becoming the most powerful protocol. Because of its unmatched security standards and endless options for messaging and file transfers, more and more industries could require mandatory migration to an AS4 solution. Offering Drummond Certified AS4 implementation capabilities, the specialists at ECS have experience with the protocol and know how to help your business make sure it is meeting industry standards. Because AS4 works across many specifications with many technical aspects, it can be a dense protocol to describe and understand, but we’re happy to answer any questions you may have.