Cloud computing symbol at the computer key

SAP Business One Vs. NetSuite

Both SAP Business One and NetSuite are full-featured, all-in-one enterprise software suites that help businesses manage all aspects of their operations.  Both applications have been built from the ground up as single systems rather than by integrating stand alone applications, this means both applications allow users to interact with a single data source and gain a 360 view of the customer.

While SAP with its long history of providing business-grade ERP products may seem an obvious choice, NetSuite is another alternative that deserves serious consideration.

NetSuite and SAP Business One’s Cloud (SaaS) offerings

SAP’s SaaS lags behind other cloud software providers like NetSuite. However SAP Business One has now been released which and has been promoted as SAP’s Cloud Offering.

However although Business one On Demand can be provided as a “Private Cloud” application it is not what I would define as a “true cloud application”.  To understand the difference I have identified some of the features of true cloud applications:

1. They runs in a ‘cloud computing’ environment.

Cloud computing offers an environment in which an application is not restricted to a single piece of hardware. Instead the application can scale on demand to utilise an optimum amount of memory, processor power, disk space and bandwidth. This provides a much improved level of protection against issues caused by a failure in a single piece of hardware or network connection.

Also by running the application in a single maintained environment the application is more likely to be secure.  Those looking after security of true cloud applications have a single surface area of attack to consider.  However, those maintaining private clouds must consider security issues on a client by client basis and separately for each data centre they contract with.  They are unlikely to have the budget on each installation to comprehensibly protect these private cloud installations.

The security factor alone will I think drive many businesses to true cloud applications over the next few years as hacking of older on premise and private cloud applications becomes more common and true cloud applications tighten security.

SAP Business One On Demand can be provided as a private cloud application, this means anyone can put a copy of it in their own datacenter and call it a cloud application.  However this doesn’t make it a true cloud application.

2. Can be accessed via an Internet browser

Any software solution that requires client software, usually running on a PC or Mac, cannot meet this criteria. Cloud based software should be accessible from any device that can access the web via an Internet browser.

This is useful as it means users do not have to be tied to a installed client application and can access software anytime, from any location.

SAP Business One On Demand does now offer a browser installed remote desktop addon allowing you to remotely an installed windows client on a different machine (remote desktop), however this is not the same as an application which has been built to run in a browser (the application is not running in a browser, the browser just provides a window to access the application running on a different machine).

3. Software is automatically updated to latest version

Another characteristic of cloud based software is that all clients should be using the same underlying code. In order to meet this characteristic the software must, if it is to allow customisation, have a well-designed customisation system to enable clients to add or adjust aspects of the system to their needs whilst ensuring they can still access the latest software.

Upgrades to SAP Business One need to be completed on a client by client basis as not all customers run on the same code base.

On the other hand, NetSuite is a true cloud application meeting all of the above criteria.  It has with 15 years of market maturity, its streamlined cloud software suite has been improved upon through more than a decade of research and development. NetSuite’s SaaS suite is used by thousands of private and public businesses because it delivers a reliable and always accessible cloud infrastructure with assured privacy, security and extensive data redundancy.

Moving an on premise product to the cloud can’t be done with a few changes to the current product.  It usually requires a total, from the ground up re-write, in this regard Business One is at best years behind and at worst will never be converted to a true cloud product.

Costs & Licensing

Available both on-premise and as a hosted cloud solution, the hosted version of SAP Business One known as SAP Business One On Demand is a relatively new offering. Both the versions of SAP Business One require significant capital investment.  However, pricing can vary based on licence volume do direct comparisons can be difficult to make.

However its worth noting that NetSuite is always provided as a subscription service, hence no upfront capital hardware investment and all the features they need are included under one license.

Besides eliminating IT complexities, higher management cost and the cost of maintaining and upgrading business applications costs, effective financial planning is one of the many benefits that NetSuite gives its users.

Analytics & Reporting

The success of the integration of HANA, SAP’s in-memory computing platform designed to provide real-time access to data, large data display of data in record time and reporting with SAP Business One remains largely unknown as it is only a year and a half old.

Moreover, HANA is expensive, which is why businesses will need to ask themselves whether they really need a big data solution and whether this high-level capability is worth the high fees. Many of SAP’s analytics offerings require separate licenses, which means more time and costs for deployment.

With its easy-to-use and intuitive dashboard, NetSuite enables users to generate real-time reports that provide an instant insight into all aspects of their operations for easy and quick optimization. Apart from key data being available at the fingertips, the software automates calculation, offers continual revenue recognition monitoring and reporting as well as comprehensive support for all key revenue recognition rules.

Complete Package

Though SAP Business One includes financials, supply chain management, sales order processing, purchase order processing, inventory / warehouse management, warehouse management, demand planning and CRM tools and 24 industry-specific options, new users may find the system complex and intimidating. The software lacks an embedded ecommerce platform, which means users must integrate 3rd party tools for ecommerce as direct integration with ecommerce solutions is lacking.

NetSuite also offers a full range of business IT solutions including, but not limited to accounts, CRM, supply chain management, inventory management, and more along with ecommerce functionality that can be tailored to either B2B or B2C requirements and enables seamless business from customers’ orders to manufacturing to shipping/ order tracking.

With scripting, workflow development, bundling etc. for IT to extend and deploy custom application, SAP Business One has no equivalent of NetSuite’s SuiteCloud cloud development platform. Its CRM component delivers a real-time, 360-degree view of customers and provides business intelligence from the lead through interactions, sales order, fulfillment and post-sale.


SAP Business One does not allow end users to quickly edit fields, logic, layouts and workflow. Their license agreement allows them to make changes to code, which limit the customer’s ability to upgrade and/or apply fixes. It also requires skilled partners to implement any type of customization.

On the other hand, NetSuite’s ability to edit and customize forms, master records, KPI’s and visual appearance reduce the need for changes to code.


SAP Business One has been designed to meet the needs of small to mid size businesses, hence is only fit for businesses with less than 100 users. Though they do not have many clients who were able to grow beyond 100 users, they still do not offer an upgrade path to different products.

NetSuite is built to grow with businesses and it can support way more than 100 users, making it the ideal choice for large businesses and enterprises.


SAP Business One does not provide a standards-based, open architecture for connectivity to partners and other business software apps. While it has apps that extend the value of the core system, the number and quality of the add-ons is inferior to NetSuite.

Built to be integrated with other applications and with a more vibrant ISV ecosystem, NetSuite is easy to integrate with other source systems. Its powerful XML API and Integration Manager is the most effective integration strategy available to optimize existing IT assets such as Financials, CRM, Project Management and other mission critical applications.


In terms of upgrades, SAP Business One is expensive, complex, time-consuming and challenging. Users also fear the risk of system failure following their SAP upgrade.

Unlike SAP, NetSuite terminates expensive upgrades, while delivering the latest innovations in ERP technology painless and automatically. It moves through implementation swiftly and painlessly, taking the burden off IT staff and paving the way for new IT innovation by consistently providing business new technology.

Mobile Access

As employees increasingly seek the ability to work from anywhere and at any time, the ability to access data on the go becomes important. Although SAP Business One On Demand does have the ability to work on mobile, there are limitations and using it can be complicated depending on the software version available.

A fully web-based solution, NetSuite is easy to use on all major mobile operating systems. Since there is only one version, users can be rest assured that they will be able to access the software from any device.


SAP Business One offers light manufacturing support with less flexibility in inventory control, warehouse operations and demand planning. It receives the lowest level of financial and development support of the company’s three business suites for SMBs.

NetSuite better supports companies that require divisional budgeting, inter-company inventory transfers and real-time financial consolidation. It fully supports manufacturing companies and is committed to growing businesses.

By adopting NetSuite, business can reduce capital investment, improve ROI and TCO and enjoy the added benefits of customization and provider support that improve user adoption. NetSuite’s singular focus on cloud solutions has enabled it to become the fastest growing financial solution in the clou