• January 12, 2006
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

NetSuite Launches a Developer Partner Program

NetSuite announced the official launch of its developer partner program today, with roughly 30 initial companies extending the reach and scope of the NetFlex architecture. The partners, whose expertise crosses 11 vertical and horizontal business areas, provide applications that add industry-specific functionality to the NetFlex SOA platform. About 25 of the applications are live as of today, with more on the way; as the NetFlex Applications Program expands to more participants, NetSuite expects the velocity of new rollouts to increase. "NetSuite helps a company manage its core back-office/front-office processes. The NetFlex Applications Program allows third parties to leverage this system to extend NetSuite into a host of important applications," NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson said in a written statement. "In addition, NetFlex enables entirely new applications to be built within NetSuite by business analysts rather than software programmers. Not only does NetFlex speed application prototyping and development, but the applications themselves benefit automatically from NetSuite's ASP model, so they behave as if they are a standard part of NetSuite." Mini Peiris, vice president of product management, notes the difference between the NetSuite Applications Program and other partner arrangements in the CRM industry. "We're extending and integrating NetSuite with our business partners' focused expertise, but we aren't forcing developers to work in NetSuite's development environment or language," Peiris says. "The goal is to provide customers with valuable additions--point solutions within a particular vertical, for instance--that have all the integration work already done." Unlike Salesforce.com's open-marketplace community, the flow of product is specifically from partner to customer. While there is no charge for companies to join the NetFlex Application Program as partners, and no per-application charges will be levied until July 2006, they will be charged $7,500 to certify their applications for the first year, and $1,500 per year thereafter. This cost will help ensure that only vendors who are committed to providing sellable applications will participate. "We aren't trying to be the next AppExchange," Peiris says. "But if a user company has a particular customization they want to share, they can become partners in our program." Pratik Jhaveri, NetFlex Applications Program manager, is optimistic about the program's future. "Starting off, some of the initial partners are providing what you can characterize as nice gadgets, useful add-ons to NetSuite that are easy to grasp and show the value of the program," Jhaveri says."Over the next year, we'll definitely be seeing more must-have applications." Regarding the idea of customers signing up as partners to sell their integrations to others, Jhaveri indicates it will be a question of value for each potential partner. "It comes down to sellability, and whether the particular app hits a high note," Jhaveri says. "They must consider if what they have is truly worth selling, or will customers see it and realize they could just as easily make their own." Martin Schneider, enterprise software analyst at The 451 Group, considers the value of NetSuite's partner strategy. "Once the users have the NetFlex platform, it gives the partners the tools they need to provide point products and vertical solutions direct to them with a single point of integration, so customers can create their own vertical-oriented front-to-back solutions while eliminating the usual difficulties of integrating multiple products," Schneider says. "This lets NetSuite market itself into areas they really couldn't do so before with as much efficiency, and really grow the business and presence." However, Schneider adds, the urgency of the announcement is not driven only by its importance to NetSuite. "Salesforce.com is talking about its own partner program a lot, and probably more than it needs to. So everybody else in the industry has to, also, or they risk getting overlooked." Related articles: NetSuite Goes Deep With E-commerce
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