Often with Microsoft Dynamics EDI programs, electronic trading is the lifeline between your organization and key business partners such as customers, suppliers and 3rd-party warehouses. And so when building EDI integration, it’s critical that your technology investments not only meet today’s challenges, but will remain valid as your organization’s business and technology platform evolve. Unfortunately, if you invest in technology that utilizes .NET Business Connector, this is not the case.
One of the first major risks with .NET Business connector is how much longer it will actually be around. Rumors had circulated that it would be discontinued at any point. However, as Brandon George (Microsoft Dynamics AX MVP) outlined, Microsoft will be discontinuing support for .NET Business Connector in a future version. Simply put, Microsoft will not support .NET Business Connector beyond Dynamics AX 2012. And so if you’re relying on it to get EDI data into AX, you’re taking a risk that will eventually cost you time and money because at some point, you’ll have to implement another technology. Today .NET Business Connector may be getting the job done for you, but at what cost?
Outside of its short shelf life, .NET Business Connector-reliant EDI solutions take on more risks in that you’re dependent on the provider to manage document integrations. .NET Business Connector utilizes more coding interfaces versus the common configuration of tools like Application Integration Framework (AIF). Because of this complexity, when you come across a new or more uncommon document, you’re at the mercy of your EDI provider to make the integration. And on top of that, your EDI provider may require more time than you prefer to achieve the integration, which ultimately relinquishes control over when you can start transacting with your trading partners.
Another common factor when evaluating Microsoft Dynamics EDI solutions is the scalability and overall performance. Having an EDI system that is multi-threaded and can handle large volumes when needed, can be critical to businesses, especially those doing large drop ship programs where thousands of orders might come in daily.
The recommended method from Microsoft is using AIF to integrate data with Dynamics AX. Support for AIF is not only following Microsoft’s recommended best practice, but an AIF-reliant EDI solution will also allow you to meet your EDI compliance requirements with ease and accuracy, and provide the scalability warranted by most organizations.
When evaluating Dynamics EDI solutions and the best approach for your business, in addition to asking the standard questions - Dynamics AX certifications, number of customers installed, supported versions, number of documents natively integrated, number of support personnel - you now have one more critical question to ask about - .NET Business Connector.