Software as a service (SaaS) vendor Netsuite today unveiled its latest development, offering new customisation capabilities for customers and partners.

SuiteFlex is the SaaS company’s next step in the evolution of its application development platform, is designed to enable independent software vendors (ISVs) and partners to create targeted, vertical applications with customised business processes.

The launch builds on the SuiteScript, Java-based programming language the company introduced in April this year, and introduces the concept of ‘Suitelets’ and SuiteScript user interface (UI) objects for building customised functionality based on the Netsuite platform.

Zach Nelson, Netsuite chief executive said: “In this third incarnation of SaaS we are going from a departmental deployment, to moving the entire company online using business process customisation across the business, exploiting the notion of composite applications or suites.”

He said this would allow for the SaaS concept to be turned on its head, so the service is actually delivered within vertically specialised software, where upgrades retain previous customisations. And the additional ‘open sourcing’ of the software, where partners and customers are invited to publish and share tailored software functionality, is assured, he said.

The announcement follows on from Netsuite competitor’s, Salesforce.com’s Apex ISV platform and programming language announcement a fortnight ago, promising to extend the customisability of it’s platform within vertical, application-based functionality.

Quocirca’s senior director, Clive Longbottom told CIO: “It looks to me as though Netsuite has made components available as the user sees fit within a portlet. It’s a bit like a cocktail, it depends on how you want to put the various ingredients together. There’s not a great deal of difference between what the end-user will come out with from Safesforce.com and Netsuite, although the Netsuite approach is a bit more straightforward.”

But Longbottom added: “My only concern is that it’s going to be difficult to change customised functionality as they retro-test the customised systems. It’s essentially a service oriented architecture approach, but they need o make sure the make the functionality they make available is correct and flexible enough to be embedded without having to make major changes to the overall suite.”