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Development of PEPPOL Access Points Gains Momentum

by Enrique Vich created on 29/02/2012 06:15

As the number of PEPPOL (Pan-European Public Procurement Online) pilots increases, the development of Access Points (APs) to connect to the PEPPOL infrastructure is gaining momentum. The easy availability of Access Points and related services is a critical step that simplifies and accelerates adoption of PEPPOL’s electronic procurement solutions across Europe.


Public agencies and private enterprises use the PEPPOL infrastructure to exchange electronic documents by connecting to Access Points built either by the organisations themselves or sourced through PEPPOL-enabled service providers.  PEPPOL Access Points form a secure network by connecting to each other using the same transport protocol and business interoperability specifications.  Operators of APs connect to their customers through existing networks and use the PEPPOL network to exchange documents with each other.


The first PEPPOL Access Point was set up in May of 2011.  There are currently 14 APs enabled, with another 33 expected to be operational in the next few months. APs can be established by public or private entities, each party in any transaction can use the same or separate APs. This provides added security and ensures the free flow of data across the PEPPOL infrastructure.


Tickstar is a Swedish technology company expert in service-oriented architecture and integration for both enterprise applications and B2B (business to business) solutions.  It was instrumental in helping a VAN (value added network) operator set up the first Swedish Access Point for a public sector client, and is committed to the expansion of PEPPOL. 


“We believe that PEPPOL will create new opportunities for a number of companies in Europe, but they need to be able to implement solutions quickly and easily, so development of Access Points is crucial,” said Hans Berg, Vice President of Sales for Tickstar.  “Therefore, we decided to offer a fully functional Service Metadata Publisher (SMP) free of charge for potential AP providers who want to test their capabilities without developing SMPs of their own.” 


In order to enable routing of documents received from the sender to the correct recipient, the PEPPOL infrastructure maintains information on servers called SMPs.  They store information about the receiving capabilities of PEPPOL users, and provide details about the business document types supported and the business collaboration profiles that can be processed through the infrastructure.


In addition to its free SMP testing capability, Tickstar now offers different business packages with a service level agreement and add-on services that enable VAN operators to integrate the SMP with their existing infrastructure, making it easier to set up and manage new participants.  It will soon offer a PEPPOL Gateway, which will be a cloud-based AP and SMP that will enable VANs to become PEPPOL-enabled more quickly than doing it on their own.  Tickstar will perform specification updates for each of its clients on an ongoing basis.


“Our hope is that AP providers will focus their time on providing high quality services to their customers, as well as attracting new ones,” said Berg.  “We are finalising agreements with a few VANs who want us to apply our PEPPOL technology expertise on their behalf so that they don’t need to allocate resources to that aspect of their business.”


While Ireland has not been part of the PEPPOL Consortium, through the efforts of the Irish National Procurement Service (NPS) and the National e-Invoicing Committee, it is making great strides in implementing the PEPPOL infrastructure. The NPS has been tasked with supporting procurement-related savings across the public service. An area with potential for achieving savings for buyers and suppliers in the procure-to-pay process is the widespread adoption of electronic invoicing for public sector bodies and for business to business transactions. To this end, a number of private sector companies have been asked to set up PEPPOL access points to facilitate a pilot project on eInvoicing


Highlights of other Access Point development include:

  • SendRegning, a Norwegian company, has produced an open source, plug and play solution for developing Access Points.  It is currently working with seven Norwegian companies and another in France to develop APs.
  • Tradeshift, an Anglo-Danish technology start-up, has set up an Access Point in France to expand its business reach, and is now opening an office in Paris. Tradeshift offers companies and public authorities the ability to send and receive e-Invoices free of charge via their web-based interface to PEPPOL.
  • Seres, a French company, developed its first AP in France and is extending its footprint into Germany, where it is setting up its second Access Point. “We are very pleased to contribute to the improvement and optimization of digital exchanges for the European Community. The first Access Point established in France, is just the beginning for Seres; in fact, we are working on three other cross-border projects, including Germany. We are very proud to be a facilitator of communication.” - stated Yves Lann, BU Director at Seres.


The supply of PEPPOL Access Points is expected to grow as pilot projects move into full-scale implementation.


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