AS4 is a Conformance Profile of the OASIS ebMS 3.0 specification, and represents an open standard for the secure and payload-agnostic exchange of Business-to-business documents using Web services. Secure document exchange is governed by aspects of WS-Security, including XML Encryption and XML Digital Signatures. Payload agnosticism refers to the document type (e.g. purchase order, invoice, etc.) not being tied to any defined SOAP action or operation.
The draft AS4 profile has recently been accepted by the OASIS ebXML Messaging Services Technical Committee and has been submitted to OASIS for public review. The majority of the AS4 profiling points constraining the ebMS 3.0 specification are based upon the functional requirements of the AS2 specification. By scaling back ebMS 3.0 by using AS2 as a blueprint, AS4 provides an entry-level on-ramp for Web services B2B by simplifying the complexities of Web services.
Key Technical Highlights
- Support for SOAP 1.1 and 1.2 enveloping structure
- Payload agnosticism
- Support for single or multiple payloads contained either within the SOAP body or as SOAP attachment(s)
- Support for payload compression
- Support for message-level security including various combinations of XML Digital Signature and/or XML Encryption
- Support for X.509 security tokens and username/password tokens
- Support for business receipt of non-repudiation similar to the Message Disposition Notification (MDN) specified by  used by AS2 and specified as an XML schema by the ebXML BPSS group
- Support for the ebMS 3.0 One-Way/Push message exchange pattern with support for either synchronous or asynchronous responses
- Support for the ebMS 3.0 One-Way/Pull message exchange pattern which is beneficial for exchanging documents with non-addressable endpoints
- Drummond Group AS4 FAQ
- AS4-Web Services Messaging White Paper - This Drummond Group white paper explains the business benefits of AS4 for both users and implementers along with a technical overview of the specification and the technology framework that supports it.
- GXS blog - Interesting Blog about the use of AS4 for cloud-based integration.
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