Last week, NetSuite announced that RightNow Technologies had selected NetSuite to run its business.  For those of you that may not know RightNow Technologies – from their website - RightNow is a provider of on demand customer experience solutions that help consumer-centric organizations deliver great customer experiences. Put another way by their CEO, Greg Gianforte, part of their goal is having their prospects "throw out their old Siebel deployments and replace them with a multichannel solution to accommodate today's customer service requirements."

I'm relatively new to NetSuite having joined in just the last month, but what I find particularly interesting about this latest announcement is that it reinforces the various claims that the world is truly moving to cloud computing. As the next generation of software companies is born – many are asking themselves the same question – how do we ensure we have a solid foundation upon which to build our growth. As companies reach a certain size, Excel, Quickbooks, Sage Peachtree and other solutions like these, just don’t scale to allow a company to become the next billion dollar software company. Size aside, there are also the myriad of other issues like managing revenue recognition, efficiently renewals management, cash management and financial visibility across business units.

So what choice do these companies have, go with Microsoft Great Plains, Oracle or even SAP?  NetSuite is increasingly seeing customers replacing Microsoft, as they see the huge cost savings and productivity gains they are able to realize with pure cloud based offerings. Microsoft is clearly trying to fight back and offer customers another choice, however this "fake cloud" approach doesn’t result in the cost savings and benefits that customers are trying to get with their software solution.  

On the other side, with Oracle and SAP, sure these solutions run many of the world’s largest businesses, but does it make sense to build the next great software company on software that was built leveraging yesterday’s technology. This is more than just a philosophical choice, it’s really the bigger question – if a company is saying that their future is in the cloud – do they really want to stake that future with an on-premise solution? Of course, I’m biased, but RightNow saw the opportunity with NetSuite to have the best of both worlds – a solid, scalable foundation upon which to build their business – and operate in the cloud.

I would be lax if I didn’t say that Oracle has definitely been investing in on-demand. They are increasingly trying to offer choices to their customers across both on-demand and on-premise, but this is more than just a technology choice. Providing customers a solution on-demand is also about the overall business model.  Phil Wainewright details some of the pitfalls faced by RightNow as they considered Oracle as a choice for their solution provider.  Customers aren’t just asking for on-demand to be a technology choice, it also needs to fit in with their business model and allow them the flexibility and benefits that have been promised by the cloud.  

Something that really stuck with me: "Cloud computing will really have grown up when cloud vendors have finally purged all on-premise systems from their own internal IT." One of the biggest things that I’ve been most pleased by since joining NetSuite, is that I can truly say that we eat our own dogfood. Now while I’ve been at other companies that try to make similar claims, this is the first time, I can say – wow that was actually a pleasant experience.  In just an afternoon, I was able to get at information enabling me to make informed decisions about pricing and licensing. I was able to appreciate why a customer like RightNow, would look at NetSuite and decide that its real-time cloud-based approach was the right one for them.

RightNow joins a list of over 750+ public and private software customers spread out across a number of different areas including Enterprise Software, Security, CleanTech and Web 2.0. As RightNow joins companies like CA Technologies, LogMeIn, Inc., SolarWinds and SuccessFactors, companies that haven’t yet fully invested in the cloud should start asking – Will my software allow me to focus on growing my business rather than growing my backoffice? But even more importantly will my software afford me the flexibility to evolve my business and sustain competitive advantage? We are already working with RightNow on helping them with exactly that – but that’s for another blog post. If you’d like to learn more about how software companies can “Survive and Thrive" – please visit us here.