NetSuite offers 'green' discount

On-demand ERP (enterprise resource planning) vendor NetSuite announced a promotion on Wednesday that provides a 50 percent discount for one year if the customer can prove they belong to a "green" organization.

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On-demand ERP (enterprise resource planning) vendor NetSuite announced a promotion on Wednesday that provides a 50 percent discount for one year if the customer can prove they belong to a "green" organization.

Customers who buy NetSuite subscriptions through the offer, which is effective until 31 December, would also see no greater than a 10 percent price increase for renewals after the first year.

For its own datacentre needs, Netsuite contracts with hosting provider Savvis, which provides building space and access to the Internet backbone, while NetSuite brings in its own servers and management staff, he said.

NetSuite is using energy-efficient Hewlett-Packard servers, and tries to refresh the boxes frequently.

"We have found that if you keep pace and replace machines every two years, you get a tremendous power win," Lipscomb said.

NetSuite has between 1,000 and 1,500 machines, encompassing everything from production databases to application servers and test systems, he said.

Given that the company has roughly 6,000 customers, "that's a quarter of a machine per company on average," Lipscomb said. "A normal customer, to run an ERP system of any real size, is going to need a couple of [servers] to do that right, and they're going to have to cool those machines."

NetSuite's shared platform has resulted in some US$61 million in electricity savings per year for customers, according to a recent study done by Greenspace, a US-based, reseller of products for green facilities.

Continued advances in hardware, not software engineering, will lead the way for more datacentre power savings, according to Dave Lipscomb, NetSuite founder.

"Software tends to like to suck up all of the [CPU] cycles that are provided by the hardware," he said. "[And] when our engineers get more power, they like to deliver more features to customers."

"An ERP application is extremely CPU-intensive by nature,'" he added. "You're constantly running reports, in addition to running a lot of transactions."

Beyond that, an ERP suite may be constantly running KPIs (key performance indicators) and content searches, and pushing up the information to executives through a dashboard. Such activities are "heavily computationally expensive," he said.

Hoping to drive more cost savings, NetSuite is doing some early tests on solid-state disk drives, which have received attention for their higher performance but also greater cost.