A new approach to an old-school API

EDI was developed in the 60s. It was originally mainframe-to-mainframe communication. This format was then picked up and popularized by Wal-Mart in the 80s. Wal-Mart was one of the leaders in popularizing EDI, automating transactions with their suppliers, and giving their suppliers data feeds that showed sales velocity so that they could do upstream planning.

.. Since data was extremely expensive back then (Wal-Mart was one of the the first companies to have their own satellite system for sharing this sort of data, which was expensive to do), it is optimized for what’s known in the EDI industry as kilocharacters (a kilocharacter is 1000 characters, which is roughly a kilobyte)

 .. They tried to optimize for keeping the kilocharacter count as low as possible. It’s this complex, hierarchical flat-file. It’s very odd, but it’s all designed this way in order to minimize data usage.
Then, when Amazon came about in the 90s and early 2000s, they wanted to do business with all the companies that were supplying Wal-Mart. The fastest way to onboard those supplier was to adopt the same standard the Wal-Mart was using. Fast forward to today, everybody uses EDI.
.. EDI is a permissionless framework. As long as people can do the EDI handshake and create valid response documents in the EDI format, they generally don’t need to get permission from retailers. If someone wants to integrate via EDI with Amazon, for example, Amazon doesn’t have to approve the company that is handling the EDI integration.
.. 9 out of 10 of our beta signups are current customers of our competitors.
.. For us, using something like AWS Lambda, where we get a million requests for 20 cents, gives us a few advantages over our competitors. You can imagine what the weeks leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday is like for a legacy EDI company. Serverless gives us the ability to scale massively for peak demand without paying for any unused capacity.
.. The nice thing about using AWS Lambda is that if we wanted to, we could have one function in Python, one function in Java, and one function in something else. It’s easy to break everything apart.
.. There’s a famous saying, “No restaurant ever went out of business for being too small.”