EDI, stands for Electronic Data Interchange, and is the electronic exchange of structured business data between different applications.
Typical EDI Architecture
EDI Architecture consists of –
- EDI-enabled applications: They support the automatic processing of business transactions.
- The IDoc interface: This was designed as an open interface. The IDoc interface consists of IDoc types and function modules that form the interface to the application.
- The EDI subsystem: This converts the IDoc types into a standard EDI message type and vice versa. This component of the EDI architecture is not supplied by SAP.
Advantages of EDI process
- Reduced data Entry Errors
- Reduced Processing cycle time
- Availability of data electronic form
- Reduced Paper Work
- Reduced Cost
- Reduced Inventories and Better Planning
- Standard Means of Communicating
- Better Business Processes
- Competitive Advantage
What is ALE ?
ALE supports the distribution of the business functions and process across loosely coupled SAP R/3 systems (different versions of SAP R/3). Connections from R/2 and non SAP systems is also supported.
- Distribution of applications between different releases of R/3 Systems
- Continued data exchange after a release upgrade without requiring special maintenance
- Customer-specific extensions.
- Communication interfaces that allow connections to non-SAP systems.
- Coupling of R/3 and R/2 Systems.
Difference between ALE and EDI ?
ALE is used to support distributed yet integrated processes across several SAP systems whereas EDI is used for the exchange of business documents between the systems of business partners (could be non-SAP systems)
ALE is SAP’s technology for supporting a distributed environment whereas EDI is a process used for exchange of business documents which now have been given a standard format
Both ALE and EDI require data exchange. An Idoc is a data container which is used for data exchange by both EDI and ALE processes.
What is an IDOC?
IDOC is simply a data container used to exchange information between any two processes that can understand the syntax and semantics of the data.
In simple words , an idoc is like a data file with a specified format which is exchanged between 2 systems which know how to interpret that data.
IDOC stands for ” Intermediate Document”
When we execute an outbound ALE or EDI Process, an IDOC is created. In an inbound ALE or EDI process, an IDOC serves as input to create an application document. In the SAP System, IDOCs are stored in database. Every IDOC has an unique number (within a client).
IDOCs are based on EDI standards, ANSI ASC X12 and EDIFACT. In case of any conflict in data size, it adopts one with greater length. IDOCs are independent of the direction of data exchange e.g. ORDERS01: Purchasing module : Inbound and Outbound.IDOCs can be viewed in a text editor. Data is stored in character format instead of binary format.IDOCs are independent of the sending and receiving systems. (SAP-to-SAP as well as non-SAP)