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NetSuite launches suite for ISV developers

SaaS vendor hopes NS-BOS will encourage partners to build vertical apps on top of the NetSuite platform

With a newly launched suite of application development tools, on-demand ERP vendor NetSuite (NYSE: N) is hoping more ISVs, VARs and software developers will build industry-specific vertical applications on top of the Netsuite platform.

“This empowers ISVs and partners and gives them a toolset that allows them to build vertical-specific solutions,” said Mini Periris, NetSuite’s vice-president of product management.

Dubbed the NetSuite Business Operating System or NS-BOS, the suite bundles a number of previously released tools as well as some that have been newly developed for ISVs.

In addition to NetSuite’s core SaaS infrastructure and business applications, NS-BOS includes SuiteFlex and SuiteBunder. Already released separately, SuiteFlex is a development framework and SuiteBunder allows ISVs to take their custom developed applications and make them easily replicatable bundles that partners can resell to others customers without re-writing the code each time, leveraging their initial investment.

“This represents the evolution of what we’ve been working on for a couple of years now,” said Periris. “It’s the first time we’ve put the technology back together in a way ISVs can understand. They’ve got all the tools they need now.”

In addition to bringing all the developer tools together onto one platform, NS-BOS also includes one new tool. SuiteScript D-Bug is a real-time, interactive hosted debugger that allows ISVs to validate code and test third-party applications inside a NetSuite environment.

Periris says testing the code within an actual NetSuite sandbox, rather than with a third-party tool, allows developers to see how the code will actually function in a customer environment and will lead to higher-quality applications.

“This is important to have, as it’s not really a development platform without it,” said Periris.

In addition to NS-BOS, NetSuite also announced it has hired a former Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) executive, Michael Ni, as vice-president of industry solutions and ecosystem. Ni will be responsible for driving NetSuite’s ISV and partner strategy.

To date some 600 partners have signed-up with NetSuite, of which Periris says about 30 have developed applications. With NS-BOS, she says they’re hoping to increase that number.

By building on top of the NetSuite platform, she says, developers can leverage the generic suite of applications and won’t need to replicate that functionality themselves. Instead, they can add their expertise on top of the base solution.

“If you’re going to deliver an end-to-end vertical solution you still need the generic base to start with,” said Periris. “ISVs don’t need to build that themselves, instead they can focus on their core competencies.

NetSuite’s goal in encouraging increased ISV developer activity is to drive more license revenue for the base NetSuite platform, which is where the vendor makes its money. Periris says ISVs can charge whatever they wish for their development work on top of the platform, and all that revenue is the partner’s. As well, NetSuite VAR partners earn margins on the license of the base platform as well.

“For us it’s about reaching additional markets,” said Periris.

One observer offered a measured response to NetSuite’s news.

“I see it more as kind of their flag in the sand, you know, ‘We’ve got a platform too,'” said China Martens an analyst with The 451 Group. “I don’t think it’s a really big announcement in any sense, but its really kind of reiterating who they are.”

— With files from IDG News Service