Oracle, NetLedger Host Small Business Suites

New and updated business applications join a crowded field of software for smaller companies.

Oracle Corp. and its development partner NetLedger Inc. both will announce new hosted software suites for small and midsize businesses next week.

Both Oracle SBS (Small Business Suite) 8.0, which is powered by software developed by NetLedger, and the new NetLedger NetSuite will provide portal views into a suite of applications geared for smaller companies. SBS 8.0 targets businesses with fewer than 100 employees, while NetSuite aims at ones with 100 to 500 employees.

Common elements between the two suites include a user interface with more drop-down menus and rollover features like Microsoft Corp.s Windows operating system, according to NetLedger President Zach Nelson, in San Mateo, Calif.

Enhancements in Oracle SBS 8.0 include direct deposit, electronic funds transfer and multiple ship-to capabilities on the accounting side, as well as additional marketing capabilities on the sales force automation side.

NetSuite layers a customizable portal user interface over three integrated functional areas--back office accounting/ERP (enterprise resource planning), customer relationship management and something it is calling Web presence that enables users to streamline their business processes. In addition, NetSuite features 10 pre-configured portals, called "Centers," that are navigated via graphical dashboards to provide summary data important to the user.

Small and midsize companies are getting an increasing number of business software options beyond NetLedger and Oracle, of Redwood Shores, Calif.

Microsoft Corp. is slated this month to begin beta testing of its Microsoft Business Network, a data and document interchange network for small businesses designed to connect suppliers to their customers through HTML or XML. The Redmond, Wash., company last month showed off three new small business applications from its Business Solutions Group, which includes the Great Plains, Navision and bCentral units.

Separately, Oracle competitor SAP AG, of Walldorf, Germany, is retooling its TopManage software into Business One, a business automation suite with an upgraded user interface and stronger integration capabilities.

NetLedgers Nelson believes there will be a place for NetSuite among the crowded field.

"Over the last three years, companies have spent a ton on enterprise software expecting growth," Nelson said. "Weve had a number of companies that are looking to downgrade ... in many cases buying Great Plains is overbuying."