NetSuite takes on SaaS integration, Salesforce.com with connector

NetSuite is offering a number of connectors between its ERP and e-commerce SaaS applications to Salesforce.com via partners.

NetSuite, a company with a history of marketing aggressively to its competitors' customers, took another step in that direction today, releasing a set of packaged, on-demand integrations between its ERP and e-commerce Software as a Service (SaaS) applications and Salesforce.com.

"Really, this is the coming together of the two leading business clouds," said Raghu Gnanasekaran, senior director of business development with NetSuite's SuiteCloud Developer Program, "the No. 1 SFA with Salesforce.com together with No. 1 accounting applications."

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NetSuite has taken direct shots at Salesforce.com and competitors a number of times in the past. For example, last October it offered to halve the price of CRM for customers that switched from Salesforce.com to NetSuite CRM+ and has made similar offers to SAP R/3 customers. Yet today's move acknowledges Salesforce.com's significant lead in its CRM user base, something NetSuite wants to tap into.

"The interesting thing for us is, if you look at green-field customers, one of their key concerns is they're worried about ownership and stewardship of the data, along with integration and reliability," Gnanasekaran said. "Here you have 50,000 plus Salesforce.com customers who are a lot more confident with Software as a Service than they were a few years ago. They're ready to move to the next phase of the model, which is finance."

Today's announcement also demonstrates the evolution of SaaS integration.

"What is noteworthy, besides better integration between the front office and back office, is [that] the amount of time it takes to do these integrations seems to be shorter and shorter," said Chris Fletcher, analyst with Boston-based AMR Research. "I think it's because some of the architectures of these Web-based applications make it much easier to provide integration capabilities and do it at a deeper level. I've heard the same thing about companies using Microsoft Dynamics and RightNow."

NetSuite is providing the integrations via four partners -- Celigo, Boomi, Pervasive Software and Cast Iron Systems -- which had developed some level of integration with Salesforce.com but are now offering deeper, packaged connectors under what NetSuite has dubbed SuiteCloud Connect for Salesforce.com. There is also a support relationship among Salesforce.com, the partners and NetSuite, with partners providing the first level of support, Fletcher said.

NetSuite last month revamped its developer community, the SuiteCloud Developer Network, an application development platform and marketplace that it is offering as an alternative to Salesforce.com's Force.com.

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