NetSuite Unveils Application Builder Platform

Called NetFlex, the new software is built into NetSuite's ERP, CRM and e-commerce products, giving the San Mateo, Calif.-based company the same customization bragging rights as CRM rival

NetFlex offers three primary capabilities. Its SOAP-based, Web services API lets NetSuite partners and customers import and export data between NetSuite-resident data and other applications. With NetFlex Customization, customers can configure the software by adding fields, changing names and personalizing the layout. NetFlex AppBuilder lets nonprogrammers build entirely new applications atop the NetSuite platform. The capabilities are similar to those touted by for its sforce development environment.

"The difference between sforce and AppBuilder is we give you point-and-click tools that--as long as you understand what your data is supposed to do--will let you build a brand-new application out of NetSuite," said Zach Nelson, NetSuite CEO. In contrast, sforce requires programmers skilled in environments such as Borland Software's JBuilder or Microsoft's Visual Basic.

"I'd say Salesforce is ahead of us in integration with outside products. But to be useful, CRM has to integrate with other software," Nelson said. "We haven't felt the need as much, since we are the system of record for our customers. This brings us up to par [with Salesforce] on customization and way ahead on application building."

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NetSuite will release NetFlex in a phased rollout. The first phase, available now, delivers standards-based, Web services APIs for CRM functionality. APIs for ERP functions--such as orders, accounts payable and inventory--will be released this summer and fall. In spring 2006, NetSuite will deliver visual modeling capabilities for customizing and building applications.