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Hosted ERP provider NetSuite has announced an open source developer platform to attract new partners and increase its uptake in vertical sectors.

NetSuite chief executive Zach Nelson unveiled SuiteFlex across the road from Oracle's OpenWorld in San Francisco, California, where thousands of Oracle partners had been getting the worldview from Oracle for three days.

With OpenWorld delegates and Oracle staffers swarming downtown, Nelson half joked at the hotel launch, attended by press, analysts and customers: "Feels like I'm with my closest friends and a few enemies."

For the record, Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison is a founder and majority owner of NetSuite.

Nelson made it clear SuiteFlex is not only aimed at helping customers easily tailor their NetSuite environments, but to also give ISVs and integrators the power to build vertical sector applications using NetSuite for core functionality and storage.

NetSuite announced 11 partners spanning retail, outsourced manufacturing, and staffing services, among others. "We are offering a way for partners to embed their knowledge in NetSuite and sell it over and over and over again," Nelson said.

SuiteFlex features Suitelets and SuiteScript UI objects - open source, JavaScript environments that allow developers to customize their interface and workflows. Developers can wrap existing application interfaces in HTML. Overall, the goal is for dynamic interaction between different modules in NetSuite running the business.

According to Nelson, the suite is intended to go beyond the pure "mash-up" model - largely typified by adding a Google map to a customer relationship management application - with the inter-module communications done using workflow. Importantly for NetSuite, customizations retain the same NetSuite interface. Suitelets and SuiteScript UI builder are due in the second-quarter of 2007. ®

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