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March 19, 2009

CRM Solutions Provider NetSuite Rolls Out SuiteCloud Ecosystem

By Patrick Barnard, Senior Web Editor, TMCnet


CRM solutions provider NetSuite (News - Alert) Inc. is taking its applications “into the cloud.”

The on-demand business software company today introduced the SuiteCloud Ecosystem, a set of on-demand products, development tools and services designed to help customers and software developers take advantage of the economic benefits of cloud computing.

Cloud computing can be simplistically viewed as the next evolutionary stage of grid computing, however, in this case the architecture facilitating the “grid” is the Internet. In grid computing you had a bunch of servers linked together and working in concert for the purpose of handling a single massive operation, whereas in cloud computing no one server is dedicated for any one purpose: You are using every or any server “in the cloud” (i.e. on the service provider’s network) to carry out any operation, by any customer, at any given time. A key distinction is server resources can be automatically and dynamically utilized based on the events that are occurring on the network, or “in the cloud.”
 
Cloud computing can also be considered the next logical extension of SaaS (News - Alert) – in fact, the advantages of the two are almost the same: on-demand resources, pay-as-you-go pricing, and infinite scalability. However, unlike SaaS, where the software and data reside on a dedicated server (or servers) in a server farm, the software in cloud computing is distributed across any or all servers in a provider’s network. More precisely, it is the software platform that actually resides “in the cloud” – hence why the term Platform as a Service (PaaS) is closely associated with cloud computing: companies merely pick which platform they want to use to support their applications.

This highly-distributed approach enables service providers to make more efficient use of their computing resources: When a customer is performing complex functions that tax computing resources, the network can automatically and dynamically allocate where that computing takes place, shifting it from “over-utilized” resources to “under-utilized” resources. This improves network performance for both the service provider and its customers. But most important is the fact that cloud computing, like SaaS, greatly reduces the cost and complexity of deploying new applications and services because businesses don’t need to invest in any equipment, architecture, software licenses or additional IT personnel. As such, cloud computing is even more analogous to a utility than hosted or SaaS architecture, in that it is “always on” and the same applications and data can be accessed from any end point connected to the "grid."

NetSuite claims the cloud ecosystem embodied in SuiteCloud is unique in that it is built on the core NetSuite ERP/CRM /Ecommerce offering itself. That’s a different approach compared to most platform-as-a-service offerings, where the third party offers the hardware and software infrastructure to host the applications.
 
The SuiteCloud environment therefore enables ISVs to effectively embed NetSuite's core feature set into their applications, to quickly build end-to-end business applications.

NetSuite says SuiteCloud will allow software developers to target new markets with newly created business applications that can be layered on top of existing business processes. It includes the SuiteCloud Developer Network (SDN), a developer program for Independent Software Developers (ISVs) that helps accelerate the development of rich business-oriented applications. The SDN helps developers quickly develop on-demand applications that leverage the power of NetSuite's core business suite (its ERP, CRM and Ecommerce systems) via the NetSuite Business Operating System (NS-BOS).
 
SuiteCloud also includes SuiteApp.com, an online marketplace where ISVs, customers and solution providers can find applications to meet specific business needs.

“Providers like Amazon and Google (News - Alert) have generated much of the PaaS buzz to date, but SaaS vendors, like NetSuite, have a unique advantage in the battle for customers and partners--they have an 'installed' base,” said Ian Finley, a senior analyst for AMR, in a release. “A company that already has NetSuite ERP should put SuiteCloud on their short list for PaaS providers.”
 
As Finley explained, SuiteCloud's NS-BOS has a built-in integration advantage over competitors.

“NetSuite ERP provides an application foundation that pure platform providers lack; and, most importantly, a pool of thousands of customers already committed to NetSuite,” he said.

"NetSuite is all about helping our customers run their business better, and SuiteCloud is an important step in furthering this vision,” added Zach Nelson (News - Alert), CEO of NetSuite. “SuiteCloud enables our partners to build incredible business-focused applications quickly and help our customers transition their operations to the future of commerce, Cloud Computing.”
 
NetSuite claims a number of ISV partners have already built new SuiteApps on its SuiteCloud development platform, NS-BOS (NetSuite Business Operating System) -- or who have integrated existing applications with NetSuite -- including Five9, Celigo, SuccessFactors, AWhere, OnSite, OZ Development, Postcode Anywhere, Nolan Computers Plc, Online One, ePayroll, Adaptive Planning, Rootstock, Daston Corporation, Pervasive, InsideView, Nulogy, Marketo (News - Alert), BlueBridge One and Integrisign.

"The SuiteCloud development platform has allowed us to create a tightly integrated solution for any call center handling front-office or back-office functions," said Jim Dvorkin, CTO at Five9, a global provider of on-demand call center software, in the release. "With our leading technology and experience in enabling efficient call center operations, this partnership will provide a powerful on-demand alternative for any company considering premise-based call center and CRM / ERP software."

For more information on SuiteCloud, visit www.netsuite.com/developers.

Patrick Barnard is a contributing writer for TMCnet. To read more of Patrick’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Patrick Barnard



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