NetSuite's recent UK advertising broadside against Sage was "unprofessional" and "not very British", according to a Sage reseller that recently opted to terminate its relationship with NetSuite.
US-based cloud-based ERP vendor NetSuite launched a transatlantic attack on Sage in November, goading its on-premise rival with its "All Sage lines terminate here" newspaper advert (pictured).
But the publicity stunt left a sour taste for at least one mutual partner, who felt it was no longer consistent for it to offer NetSuite alongside Sage.
Sage and NetSuite partner Ensphere Consulting terminated its relationship with NetSuite upon being acquired by Dell partner Certus last week. Certus was looking to work with just one ERP vendor and Sage fitted in with its strategy of offering cloud-based solutions from its own datacentre.
Certus chief operating officer Nigel Griffiths said the "aggressive" marketing campaign – which escalated into a Twitter spat between NetSuite and Sage's respective CEOs – had also stuck in his throat.
"I didn't think it was consistent for us to have 90 Sage enterprise customers and then have a relationship with a company who was aggressively criticising Sage," he said.
"It didn't feel right to me; it didn't feel professional. It was pretty aggressive, and not the kind of thing we British would do. We decided it wasn't the kind of business relationship that was consistent with our belief in how we should do things."
Griffiths said he thought other mutual partners were unlikely to follow his lead because most Sage partners won't have their own datacentre and therefore be able to offer a cloud-based Sage solution.
Talking to CRN, John Campbell, EMEA channel director at NetSuite, said he understood Certus' decision to work solely with Sage.
"Certus are more of a hosting infrastructure company," he said. "Looking at how they would go forward using NetSuite, which is a SaaS platform, it would be difficult as they would almost be competing with themselves."
Campbell added: "Quite a few of our customers are coming off Sage applications and the campaign was a pictorial [representation] of what we are experiencing as a business. I'm not sure how that could be deemed as aggressive. Just look at some of the political parties and the campaigns they are starting to put out – and they are the bastions of British culture."
A quarter of NetSuite's 60 EMEA partners also work with Sage, SAP and Microsoft and tend to deploy NetSuite only when customers are looking for a best-of-breed cloud solution, Campbell said.
"We are a pure cloud solution, so we tend to complement our resellers' business by giving them that additional offering," he said.
Alistair Livingstone, managing director of Eureka Solutions, a Sage partner which added NetSuite to its portfolio in 2012, agreed.
"It is definitely not a case of one or the other," he said.
"About 70 per cent of our NetSuite sales could not have gone for a Sage solution because of functionality or environmental reasons – NetSuite is our true cloud solution, Sage 200 is our on-premise solution and Sage 200 online offers a hybrid for Sage customers."
"Eureka has grown by 40 per cent since we took on NetSuite and is heading for its most successful year with a turnover in excess of £2.5m and over 35 staff. We have not achieved this by selling NetSuite instead of Sage, but we are selling NetSuite as well as Sage."
NetSuite's advert spilled over into a Twitter spat between NetSuite chief executive Zach Nelson and Sage chief executive Stephen Kelly, who advised his opposite number to "Please mind the gap between rumours & reality".
Nelson (pictured) has continued to apply pressure to Sage since then, boasting in NetSuite's recent annual results that its seven quarters of 30 per cent-plus growth contrasted with the results announced by "legacy on-premise software companies".
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