NetSuite releases SuiteBundler for building vertical apps

SAAS vendor NetSuite issues tool for partners to built vertical apps.

Software as a service (SAAS) platform vendor NetSuite has released NetSuite Bundler, a tool its partner ISVs and VARs can use to create reusable applications for verticals.

"It's more important for our partners than it is for NetSuite," NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson said of the release, which provides a wizard-like interface for combining assets built on the NetSuite platform. It also includes distribution and installation tools and access to a repository of these "SuiteBundles."

Software development firm EBS-RAD, created a custom NetSuite app, i-Seaports Management, for its customer, Harbour Mastery. That firm in turn will market the software to seaports and marinas around the world, said EBS-RAD CEO George Walters.

"We're effectively making it very easy for services companies to get into the software business," Nelson said.

Bundles have been created for a number of other verticals, including agricultural equipment dealerships, retail point-of-sale and wholesale electronics distribution, according to the company.

NetSuite's announcement drew a cautious nod from one industry observer Wednesday. "At a 60,000 foot view, it seems like a good thing," said Michael Speyer, a Forrester Research senior analyst covering SMB (small and midsize businesses) and IT distribution issues. "Especially for the larger midmarket clients. They're going to resist adopting apps that aren't customizable to their own existing processes."

That makes sense because NetSuite has specifically targeted such customers. "We think the midmarket is the huge opportunity," Nelson said. "We believe NetSuite will be the SAP of the midmarket."

But Speyer sounded a note of skepticism against such a lofty goal. "Well, SAP is pretty firmly in the midmarket now," he said, noting offerings like Business All-in-One and Business One. "So they are running head-on into SAP."

NetSuite's approach to extending its SAAS platform stands in contrast to competitor Salesforce.com, which has aggressively promoted its programming language and development platform for creating new enterprise apps.

"Our environment is all about extending our applications," Nelson said. "The mid-market doesn't want to build applications. They want to run businesses. Enterprises? They'll build applications all day."

Nelson said one possible enterprise use of SuiteBuilder lies in application testing. NetSuite customers could try out new custom combinations in sandboxes before deploying them, he said.

NetSuite previously announced it intends to issue an IPO (initial public offering). Earlier this year, it provided access to its services through the Apple iPhone.

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