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Nsite to launch Ajax-enabled SaaS applications

Posted by iMark - 2005-11-07

Further proof that packaged applications are under continual fire from SaaS (software as a service) developers will come next week, when Nsite unleashes a hosted service for quote and channel management.
While the applications for quote and channel management will fill in the gaps missing from traditional CRM solutions, plugging in to both Salesforce.com and Siebel OnDemand architectures, the bigger news is the SaaS technology behind the applications.

Using AJAX [Asynchronous JavaScript and XML] technology, which refreshes only the updated data on a Web page instead of the entire page, users will see faster response times to user input than traditional Web applications, said Lawrence Lindsey, vice president of engineering at Nsite.

Perhaps more important, Lindsey said, AJAX allows an online application to pass complex sets of data back and forth between the client and the server.

"I can pass an entire row of thirty products and refresh the table as if I was using Excel on the client," Lindsey said, noting that this will allow companies to create customizations and new applications without involvement from Nsite.

Coming in the next 30 to 60 days, Nsite will ship what it calls full "application builder technology." At that point applications can either be customized or built from scratch and shared online, Lindsey said.

Industry analyst Denis Pombriant, managing principal at Beagle Research, said the Nsite architecture is signaling an important inflexion point in enterprise software.

"What we see is a company with a good idea build an application and make it available through [Salesforce.com] AppExchange to any company that has the Salesforce service," Pombriant said.

This will allow [smaller] companies like Nsite to find a market without deploying a large sales and making effort, the analyst said.

While Nsite has many prebuilt XML connectors to applications, Bob Jandro, CEO and president, said the company is developing a "universal WSDL [Web Service Definition Language] parsing engine," because there are too many Web services to build the connectors by hand.

The purpose of the engine is to parse XML dynamically, figuring out the appropriate protocols, download the WSDL, and upload it to the Nsite environment. The WSDL parsing engine is expected later next year.

Jandro, commenting on Microsoft's recent announcement that it too will build applications for the SaaS model, said "everybody has realized that the reason for buying packaged applications is finally broken."

Nsite offers a starter edition of channel management and quote management free for up to five users, a professional edition at $40 per user, per month and for 100 users and up, $10 per user, per month.

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