A new breed of Internet company is emerging to challenge the traditional private value added networks (VANs) that connect trading partners.

Grand Central Communications Inc. will release next week Version 4 of its services directory platform.

HubSpan also is using the Internet to compete with services traditionally provided by VANs.

Grand Central’s Version 4.0 now supports Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) 1.1 and has a revamped, Web-based graphical interface to build message flows for Web services, said John Linney, vice-president of products and services at Grand Central.

By adding support for BPEL Version 1.1 to the Business Services Network, Grand Central is extending support to non-Web service protocols such as EDI and FTP in addition to SOAP messages.

A future version will allow users to write BPEL scripts into the graphical mapping, Linney said.

“If (they) can allow the end points to self-provision themselves, it shifts costs out to the end points, and companies can make changes when they want to make the change,” said Benoit Lheureux, an analyst at Gartner.

Lheureux added, however, that while Grand Central is building the infrastructure, it has not yet fully automated the process. Instead, there is an assumption that each company has a protocol or Web Service wrapper that can be deployed to trading partners to give them access to back-end systems.