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A little Energy Industry Internet History for your Memorial Day Weekend

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Richard Brooks's picture
Co-Founder and Lead Software Engineer Reliable Energy Analytics LLC

Inventor of patent 11,374,961: METHODS FOR VERIFICATION OF SOFTWARE OBJECT AUTHENTICITY AND INTEGRITY and the Software Assurance Guardian™ (SAG ™) Point Man™ (SAG-PM™) software and SAGScore™...

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  • May 27, 2022
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In 1993 I started working on an IETF initiative to develop a standard method to exchange Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) transaction data over the Internet, which passed in 1995 under the leadership of Dave Crocker (the email guy) and is now affectionately referred to as RFC 1767.  It’s only 7 pages in length but it was a foundational achievement that transformed the way business transactional data is exchanged. Value added networks (VAN) once served as the conduit for exchanging business, EDI, data between organizations. The displacement of these private networks (VAN’s) began in 1994 after NSF funding for the Internet ceased and the Internet was opened for commercial use.

In 1995 I was introduced to an organization called the Gas Industry Standards Board (GISB), which is now called the North American Energy Standards Board (NAESB), working on behalf of Southern Natural Gas. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), wanted to use the Internet to improve operational efficiency with the Natural Gas Pipeline sector and an initiative was launched under GISB to create business practice standards to exchange Nomination and other transactional data over the Internet. The industry immediately went to work developing transactional data sets using the ANSI X12 EDI standard. Simultaneously, a small group of technical people, myself included, went to work designing a transport mechanism to move these EDI transactions securely and reliably over the Internet. This work became known as the “Electronic Delivery Mechanism” (EDM) standard.

In 1995 the World Wide Web was still a nascent technology that was manifested in the use of HTTP and HTML technologies as a means to communicate multi-media content over the Internet. The combination of an IETF EDI standard, RFC 1767, and the WWW HTTP capabilities and commercial use of the Internet provided the technical foundation that enabled GISB to develop the EDM standard that is still used today by the Natural Gas industry to exchange transactional data. Privacy, Integrity and Authenticity of these commercial transactions was ensured through the use of OpenPGP for encryption and digital signature verification methods. GISB completed its business practice standards for transactional data sets and the EDM standard and this body of standards was submitted to FERC for consideration as regulations, which were adopted in FERC Order 587 (1996) and are now under the Code of Federal Regulation in “18 CFR Part 284”, Section § 284.12 - Standards for pipeline business operations and communications.

Today, NAESB’s “Electronic Delivery Mechanism” (EDM) is used extensively across both the Natural Gas and Electric industries to reliably, and securely exchange millions of business transactions representing billions of dollars in commerce across the Internet. Some cyber breaches have sporadically been attempted and some minor incursions have succeeded in knocking out portions of this data highway, but the traffic continued to flow and remains flowing today. The NAESB EDM was also influential in the development of other industry efforts to develop a secure message exchange standard for international application, known as the OASIS open ebXML Message Handling Service which was adopted Europe's Natural Gas industry under ISO Standard 15000

2022 marks the 25th anniversary of commercial use of the NAESB EDM standard to transport EDI transaction data across the Internet. Happy Anniversary NAESB EDM.

Have a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend and please remember to thank a veteran for their service.   

“Dick Brooks served as co-chair of GISB’s EDM sub-committee during the design and development of GISB’s EDM standard and an architect for the OASIS ebXML Message Handling Service. In 2004 he joined ISO New England as Enterprise Architect working under Eugene Litvinov, CTO, and took an early retirement in 2018. He now serves as Co-Founder and Lead Software Engineer at Reliable Energy Analytics (REA) leading the development of REA’s flagship product, the Software Assurance Guardian Point Man™, SAG-PM™”.

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