NetSuite’s new O/S aimed straight at Partners

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The arrival of one tool in the NetSuite range of support tools may not, at first, seem the most exciting development in the world. But for the company’s growing channel partner community, it may well end up being seen as the keystone in the foundations of a utility computing service on which they can build service offerings into their own marketplaces.

Having extended its SaaS platform tools with first an applications development platform called SuiteFlex, and then added a service packaging and delivery tool called SuiteBundler, a gap in the toolset still existed—for a debugging tool. This has now been filled by the company with the introduction of SuiteScript D-Bug. Now channel partners should have all the core services required to build the applications needed for services they can deliver to their own end user communities, and the tools to develop the specific code needed to run on top of the core services to fit individual customer requirements. In effect, this could be a prototype Utility Computing service, giving the partner community a head start in offering such services to customers.

Though such a package of core services and tools may fit the needs of channel partners very well, the concept may still not always get across to them, particularly those yet to take the step into offering SaaS as an alternative delivery model for their market sector solutions. So NetSuite’s other major development to coincide with the arrival of the debug tool is a launch of the entire package as a single entity—the NetSuite Business Operating System (NS-BOS).

If this sounds a bit like Microsoft’s original war-horse, MS-DOS, it is deliberate. MS-DOS became the driving force behind the growth of the PC platform, and NetSuite sees the growth of SaaS (Software as a Service) as having similar potential. Add to that the market potential of the channel partners, the Systems Integrators, Independent Software Vendors and the upper reaches of the Reseller community, which have the opportunity—and in many cases the reality—of effectively owning the provision of IT resources to niche market sectors. In their corners of the IT world, they are the respected brand names that customers turn to and, collectively, they can represent a significant tranche of business revenue, both for themselves and their principal suppliers.

It is this market at which NetSuite is now pitching itself whole-heartedly, and giving the NS-BOS name to its core service provision package is a sensible lever for the company to apply to them. The system now consists of five main blocks. On the applications development side there is SuiteFlex, which is the technology platform for development, customisation, verticalisation, integration and business process automation. This is where new applications, or NetSuite-compatible adaptations of existing partner applications, are built. It includes the SuiteScript programming language, which is based on industry standard JavaScript.

This is now complemented by the new debug tool, SuiteScript D-Bug. Its real strength for SaaS service development is its ability to run real-time code validation and testing. Third-party applications can run on the actual server environment against live data, in real-world conditions, but without corrupting live production data. Bringing all the development effort together is SuiteBundler, which provides the platform for delivering partner-built solutions out to SaaS customers in a packaged and repeatable manner.

The other two components of NS-BOS are the core services on which all the applications and services run. These are the SaaS Infrastructure where applications developed by third parties will be hosted on NetSuite’s multi-tenant, on-demand architecture, and the Core Business Management Suite, which embeds the fundamental core accounting, customer management and ecommerce functionality into the partner niche market solutions.

One important advantage of this for the partner community is that they then do not need to concern themselves with building or maintaining and updating core application capabilities like accounting, inventory or order management. This should allow them to concentrate on exploiting their own specialist knowledge.