Helping Businesses Do Business
NetSuite is an early success story in the business model approach of offering software as a service (SaaS) via the Internet cloud and a leading vendor of cloud computing business management software suites. NetSuite enables mid- market companies to manage core business operations in a single system, which includes accounting/enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), and e-commerce. The company’s patent-pending “real-time dashboard” technology provides an easy-to-use view into up-to-date, role-specific business information for customers to manage their day-to-day business operations.
Interoperability with Everyone
Any vendor that provides SaaS to business customers will find its software challenged to interoperate with applications within those customers’ existing IT environment. NetSuite is no different.
“Our client requirements demanded that we offer ODBC connectivity to any possible third-party report-writer application,” says a development project manager at NetSuite.
Aside from advanced reporting on NetSuite applications, customers also frequently wanted to use data connectivity components in data warehouse extract and manipulation processes, as well as exporting to business partners and complying with various third-party mandates.
NetSuite therefore had to ensure that its software could adhere to international and industry-wide standards for data connectivity such as ODBC and JDBC APIs and ANSI database language SQL. Not only that, the developer team at NetSuite also needed to ensure that their software would keep current with the latest versions and features of those standards.
“We could not satisfy our customers’ reporting needs without the inner/outer joins and other new features provided by ANSI92,” says one of those developers by way of example.
The ramifications of this ongoing development project appeared formidable.
A Product Integration Partner
NetSuite determined that the best approach to address its customers’ data access requirements would be to partner with a third-party ISV specializing in data connectivity and product integration. The staff members quickly narrowed the choice down to Progress® DataDirect® and the Progress DataDirect OpenAccess Software Development Kit (SDK). Among the key factors driving the decision was the extensive breadth of DataDirect support for standards and an array of implementations—some of them unique in the industry.
“DataDirect was the only company to offer a Java API to generic backend data sources,” notes a NetSuite project manager.
Explicitly designed to create custom APIs based on connectivity standards, the OpenAccess SDK can essentially give developers as much as 99 percent of the code already completed. This includes the extensive driver API specification compliance, the SQL calls, and the network and server components necessary. It provides the ability to make anything—flat file data, proprietary data, or a Web site—appear as an SQL database which application tools based on standard APIs know how to talk to. The pre-built component code exposes the required APIs and interfaces and implements all the rules defined by the respective specification for various OS platforms.
“DataDirect OpenAccess provided us with pretty simple programming of 13-to-18 methods,” reports one key NetSuite developer. “That translated to a quick learning curve and fast product development.”
Rapid Adoption of Database Connectivity
NetSuite reports that Progress DataDirect has served not only as a vendor of excellent data connectivity components, but also as a product integration partner, providing outstanding technical support.
“The DataDirect support is great,” reports one development PM. “We were able to port some old driver code to the new DataDirect version within a few days, working with DataDirect via e-mails sent from engineer to engineer for clarification. Response time was frequently a matter of minutes."
More than 300 NetSuite customers make use of ODBC capabilities deployed using the DataDirect OpenAccess SDK. These span a diverse variety of uses, including:
•A food process and packaging company that has written Crystal reports to obtain information used in helping them print shop packets and inventory pull sheets that go to the shop floor, saving them considerable time and providing information they’d never had before.
•An audio installation vendor that uses ODBC to send data to a Crystal report used to calculate commissions for their sales staff.
•An anti-virus and anti-malware ISV that uses ODBC to identify orders in a queue awaiting a license and also to create and run reports in client-and server-side applications and to extract data to populate a data warehouse.
A survey conducted by NetSuite found that more than 60 percent of its customers using ODBC capabilities in its applications gave a 4 or 5 out of 5 rating in value.
Says a NetSuite representative: “We’ve had our customers tell us that they absolutely need it. They’ve said to us: ‘please don’t even think of removing it’.”