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Orion EDI Bureau - AS/2 gateway for Marston's PLC

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Marston’s PLC is the UK's leading independent brewing and pub retailing business. It operates five breweries throughout the UK, and brews some of the UK's leading ale brands including Marston's Pedigree, Jennings, Banks's Bitter, Banks's Original, and Mansfield Bitter.

Marston’s have worked with Orion Consulting for several years now, having migrated to their PathFinder solution as a replacement for their existing EDI solution. This solution now handles both traditional EDI requirements and other managed file transfers.

One requirement from an existing customer was to change EDI communications over to use AS/2 rather than the existing method of transferring data via a VAN. For security reasons, a company would normally receive the incoming connections required by AS/2 calls in a network area referred to as a Demilitarised Zone or DMZ. This is an area that, although part of a company's infrastructure, does not directly exist on their network but is connected to it via a Firewall. This means that external systems cannot directly connect to a machine on the company's LAN.

Rather than putting in the network infrastructure required to use AS/2 directly from PathFinder for one customer, they instead opted to use the Orion EDI Bureau service to receive the files on their behalf and forward them unchanged to their existing EDI system.

Effectively, the bureau acts as a DMZ for Marston’s, allowing the sending and receiving of files to AS/2 trading partners on their behalf. The PathFinder installation at Marston’s makes outgoing connections to the bureau periodically to send and pick up data. This solution means that no calls need to be made into the Marston’s infrastructure from the Internet, without requiring significant infrastructure changes.

The system went live in January 2006 and has operated without problems since.

April 2010 update: the system is still running smoothly and now supports managed file transfer to and from a number of trading partners.

Customer Comments

Mick Fuller, Programme Manager, Marston's PLC:

"Using Orion Consulting's flexible approach Marston's were able to respond to a customer need in a time frame that exceeded their expectation. Orion worked closely with our customer during the development and test phases of the project. Since the implementation, Orion's support (and assistance during upgrades) has been excellent."

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"We purchased PathFinder because it was a cost-effective replacement for our existing EDI solution, and also because of its flexibility and ease-of-use. It also gave us future-proofing in relation to such demands as AS/2."
Alan Brown, IT Manager, Hero UK LLP