NetSuite vs. Microsoft: A Comparison of ERP Systems

Netsuite vs. Microsoft – A Consultant’s Comparison

By: Chrystal Chambers

Having implemented and supported Microsoft solutions for half of my career and NetSuite for the other half, I thought I’d sit down and pull together a comparison of the two platforms to serve as a guide for businesses looking to implement a new ERP solution in their business.

Early in my career, I was an avid Microsoft user, relying on many of their products for both work and personal use. I even owned several Windows mobile devices in the early 2000s! In my professional role as a Microsoft consultant, I primarily worked with Microsoft GP, helping clients with end-user computer technical issues and providing break/fix support. While I enjoyed building relationships with clients, I was getting frustrated with the software’s frequent errors, lock issues, and complicated integrations; which ultimately would cause extensive application downtime for my clients. I also realized that although Microsoft GP was good for basic accounting and financial management, it was not addressing my clients’ business challenges as they grew, therefore not significantly moving them forward to position them for sustainable growth.

As a company, myself and my fellow partners at KES knew there had to be a better way, so we started diving into NetSuite to compare systems. I was initially skeptical about whether a true-cloud ERP system like NetSuite would be an improvement over Microsoft products. Given my extensive IT background, I was doubtful that an ERP system could operate well without installing software on individual devices. In addition, it seemed implausible that a cloud-based system could surpass most client/server-based applications in terms of features and ease-of-use, but I quickly realized how wrong I was!

NetSuite’s true-cloud environment solved most of my technical frustrations, eliminated data silos, provided a more user-friendly system, and offered valuable company insights to my clients. Since NetSuite removes technical hurdles and provides my clients with a solid foundation and a scalable system, I was able to refocus my consulting on using NetSuite to help clients identify and overcome inefficiencies and use data insights to make informed business and growth decisions.

"NetSuite’s true-cloud environment solved most of my technical frustrations, eliminated data silos, provided a more user-friendly system, and offered valuable company insights to my clients."

Benefits of a True-Cloud ERP

While Microsoft is phasing out support for Microsoft GP and moving customers over to current Microsoft products, it’s important to point out that they are still not true-cloud solutions — we jokingly call them “fog solutions.” Yes, with current Microsoft products, users log into a website, but in the background the software is still accessing a server at Microsoft Azure or an Amazon server farm.

On-premise and fog solutions tend to have higher operating costs because of the need for IT professionals and developers who must access the server to handle software installations, database issues, system upgrades, end-users issues, customizations, and integrations with third-party software.

With NetSuite you never, ever login to a server because it’s a true-cloud ERP system. When we help clients with upgrades, customizations, or integrations, we deal directly with Oracle and never touch a database server. We make all changes and updates via the front-end, through their user interface. And, you don’t have to worry about your server and system being down. NetSuite commits to providing customers with 99.7% availability (outside of scheduled maintenance) as outlined in their Service Level Commitment document.

Let’s dig deeper into the benefits of NetSuite’s true-cloud ERP.

ERP System Upgrades and Customizations

Because NetSuite is a true-cloud ERP, it’s a much easier system to upgrade than on-premise or fog solutions that often upgrade customers one-by-one, creating long upgrade cycles.

Since customizations are done on the backend of on-premise or fog solutions, you risk breaking existing customizations when you upgrade to the newest version. The cost to repair these breaks often forces companies to wait to upgrade, causing major security vulnerabilities. Companies are often locked into the version they were on when their customizations were built.

With NetSuite, you will never experience version lock because NetSuite hosts and maintains the IT infrastructure, ensures that the system is always up and running, maintains system security, and rolls out upgrades simultaneously, without breaking customer customizations. In fact, NetSuite often refers to customizations as “personalizations” because you are not overwriting existing code with custom code. You are just personalizing your NetSuite instance to best fit your company’s structure and processes.

Third-Party Integrations

The NetSuite ecosystem continues to grow by leaps and bounds, with many software providers now having NetSuite-focused products or add-ons that bring more capabilities to your ERP system.

During my time as a Microsoft consultant, integrating third-party software was often a difficult and expensive process. We had to hire a Sequel developer to implement the integration for clients. Alternatively, since NetSuite is a true-cloud solution, integrating third-party software is much simpler. All you need to do is sign up with the third-party provider, connect the add-on product to your NetSuite environment, and you're good to go.

Other NetSuite Benefits

Above are just some of the benefits of a true-cloud ERP system. With NetSuite, you can also enjoy a 360-dgree view across your entire business, an ERP that scales as your business evolves and grows, tremendous support to manage multiple subsidiaries, and top-notch security. Learn more about NetSuite's benefits and view additional resources on our Moving from Microsoft to NetSuite page.

"In my tenure as a Microsoft consultant, we conducted many software selection studies. Our practice leaders would demo both Microsoft and NetSuite to potential clients, and then we would ask them to rank the features side-by-side. They almost always selected NetSuite in most categories, particularly in terms of ease-of-use and overall functionality."

Fear of Change and Cloud Misconceptions

Like many people, I’m a creature of comfort. I’ve used Microsoft products my entire professional career, but my frustration with some of the products superseded my fear of change. Moving to NetSuite was not hard, in fact, it was surprisingly simple. It’s a user-friendly system and I easily adapted. The learning curve was smaller than I expected since many of the technical components are removed by not being installed on a local computer. I love the fact that I can open NetSuite on my tablet or phone and access it via a web browser and cellular connection without experiencing a lag in performance for most tasks.

"Moving to NetSuite was not hard, in fact, it was surprisingly easy. It’s a user-friendly system and I easily adapted. It only took me using NetSuite for a short time to realize how much better it is than other products. It just works!"

When talking to prospects, I sometime hear fear and misconceptions of cloud environments. They have legitimate concerns about the security of storing confidential company data offsite, but the cloud has proven to be a safe option for many years. I always tell people to do their research on the cloud and be sure to consider the efficiencies gained by removing the technical layer that is involved with an on-premise platform. When comparing, you should consider the time and costs involved for software installation, end-user issues, and system upgrades with on-premise solutions. In my opinion, there is truly no comparison.

I hope this information about NetSuite and its true-cloud platform is helpful to you as you conduct your ERP system search. We’d be happy to conduct a live demo of NetSuite to see if it’s a good fit for your company.

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