I think it is appropriate to start this blog and website with a quick discussion of what NetSuite is, and what it isn’t; as well as some of its capabilities at a high level. NetSuite started as Net Ledger way back in 1998, and was primarily an accounting system at that time. It was then and has always been a hosted system, meaning that there has never been a version of the software that you install locally. It is delivered through a web browser, and is an Application as a Service (AaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), Utility computing and/or Cloud based application; though these are really just the latest industry buzzwords and the truth is that it’s just a business application that runs on hardware that is hosted and maintained for you. NetSuite has grown in complexity and functionality over the years and while an entire article could be written about the history of the system this is not that article.
System Architecture Overview
Architecture of the NetSuite system is the one area that is both more difficult to talk about than other areas of the system, and yet at the same time somewhat simpler to talk about than other areas. The reason for the difficulty is that, for the most part NetSuite does not publish information about how their internal systems work, but it is this lack of information that then leads to the simplicity of the discussion since there isn’t nearly as much to talk about. The information in this article is based on what NetSuite does publish, what can be gleamed using standard tools, and the authors own knowledge of how systems and databases work. The architecture of the system, from the customers stand point, is pretty simple. The software is delivered to you as a service and there is very little infrastructure you need to worry about having, however there are still a few things you do need and I will cover those below.
Licensing, Versions and Editions
NetSuite licensing is one of those things that can be quite complex. There are multiple versions of NetSuite, multiple editions, bundles that can be added on to the system both from NetSuite and from third party vendors, modules that can be added to the system, entire third party software bolt-ons and add-ons, user licenses, and more, so all of this leads to some complexity in figuring out what price you pay or will pay for the system overall. Below I will break out what each piece of the puzzle is and hopefully shed some light on how NetSuite is licensed. In another article that I hope to publish soon I will list the base pricing.
When it comes to NetSuite, there are numerous functional areas of the system, and an entire article could easily be written about each one, I will only cover each of them at a high level here. If you would like to learn more about any of these areas you can check out the Where to go from here article in this series.
There are multiple ways to customize NetSuite, and while the list below is not all encompassing it should give you a good idea of what types of customizations are available and how you use them. If you would like to learn more about any of these areas you can check out the Where to go from here article in this series.
NetSuite used to use the tag line “One System, No Limits”. As a NetSuite administrator I am personally pretty happy they made the move away from this tag line and style of selling the product. Having a sales person tell all of the C-level executives at your business that the system they were selling had no limits and could do anything, only to later leave and leave you as the administrator with the burden of revealing the truth to those same people is thankfully a process that has been for the most part left in the past. Still it is important to make sure that when you are being sold NetSuite, you make sure that it will deliver on all of the critical features that your business will need. This does not mean NetSuite needs to deliver on all that you want or ever could want, but that it needs to deliver on all that you truly need to get business done, including those things that provide a strategic advantage for your business. With that in mind I have created this article in the What is NetSuite article series. This article contains information about some of the more common limitations you may run into when using NetSuite.
Where to go from here
This article is the final article in the What is NetSuite series. We have covered a lot of material from a high level and hopefully we have given you a good start to understanding what NetSuite is and what some of its capabilities are. With a product this big we cannot possibly cover every piece of it in a series of articles like this, nor can we go into each piece in depth. If you want to get more information on NetSuite the following resources can help.