Inter-connectivity has been, and is, one of the most important issues when choosing a VANS (Value Added Network System). It decides whether companies can exchange messages between each other while not on the same network.

One of our clients asked whether it would be possible to communicate via their X.400 mailbox, to their partner who has an IBM mailbox. A little investigation lead to a partner that has an IE or “Information Exchange” mailbox.

Information Exchange was IBM’s EDI VANS and was written at the end of the 80’s. IBM sold it (together with most of their other EDI services) to GXS. Later on IBM bought Sterling Commerce, and GXS was sold to OpenText. Strictly speaking this would “Information Exchange” thus an OpenText service.

The landscaping has changed, but the services are still operational. Inter-connectivity is still the same. This brings us to “How to translate an IE mailbox ID into X.400 address”.

IE addresses are structured differently than X.400 addresses. They usually have the form IE.SysID.IEAccount.IEUserid, where the IE.SysID could be left out when the partner is on the same SysID. There used to be different Systems in the US, Europe, Brazil and Japan, and therefore different SysID’s. (Note: in the modern internet age there is obviously no longer a need to set up different systems to cover the globe)

At the time IBM created a simple translation of IE.SysID.IEAccount.IEUserid into X.400 structured addressing.

C=, ADMD=MARK400, P=IESysID, SN=IEAccount, GN=IEUserID

The bridge can handle multiple countries: FR (France), DE (Germany), IT (Italy), etc.

The European SysID for IE is EUR. If our IE mailboxID was NEKSUS.NEKS001, then the X.400 equiavalent would be


Creating an IE name for an X.400 mailbox works slightly different: IE will choose one when the interconnect is first used. The first file must therefore be sent from an X.400 mailbox. The IE recipient will receive the file, and can read the senders address (which should have the form IE.X400.U999.U001). Once this address is known, the exchange of information can be two-way.