NetSuite 11.0 adds deeper support for Ajax

Latest NetSuite comes in two vertical editions, includes new scripting language

Midmarket hosted applications vendor NetSuite unveiled the latest version of its applications suite, NetSuite 11.0, late Wednesday.

The release features deeper support for Ajax, a new scripting language dubbed SuiteScript, and two vertical editions of the software.

Ajax, or asynchronous JavaScript and extensible markup language, is the collective term used to describe a group of software development tools and standards that help Web applications try to match the speed and usability of their desktop counterparts.

NetSuite offers a combination of hosted enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM) and electronic commerce applications for midmarket companies.

Previously, NetSuite had used Ajax primarily to power navigation in its applications, according to Zach Nelson, the company's president and chief executive officer. NetSuite 11.0 represents a move of Ajax support into more functional areas including reporting, schedule management and document management, he said in a Wednesday phone interview.

Ajax also powers a new user interface, Nelson said, including collapsible and expandable portlets to lessen the amount of scrolling users have to do when navigating the NetSuite applications.

Built on JavaScript, the SuiteScript scripting language included in NetSuite 11.0 will enable users to customize business processes within the application suite, Nelson said.

NetSuite also announced Wednesday two vertical editions of its software -- a Wholesale/Distribution Edition and a Services Company Edition -- which will come with NetSuite 11.0 features.

Around 20 percent of NetSuite's customers are in the wholesale and distribution business, according to Nelson. The company has less presence in the services business since, until NetSuite 11.0, its software lacked a major feature, project accounting, he said. NetSuite plans to come out with more vertical editions of its software, with an edition aimed at e-tailers likely to be the next one out, Nelson added.

NetSuite 11.0 is due to enter beta testing Friday and start becoming generally available in May, Nelson said. As previously, the company will operate a phased rollout to its users of the new release over a three-month period.

Midmarket business applications are "the last great unconsolidated market," according to Nelson. "No one has more than a 10 percent market share," he said. "Someone will ultimately become the SAP of the midmarket," Nelson added, referring to SAP which has long been the No. 1 vendor of enterprise applications.

NetSuite's primary competitor is hosted CRM player, Nelson said. The company also comes up against Sage Group, SAP, Microsoft, Oracle, Salesnet, and SugarCRM. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison is one of the founders of NetSuite and its lead investor through his Tako Ventures investment company.

The NetSuite Wholesale/Distribution Edition is priced from $999 per month for the base suite and $99 per user per month, while the NetSuite Services Company Edition has a base price of $1,499 per month plus $99 per user per month. There's no extra charge to move to NetSuite 11.0 for existing customers.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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