I wonder who owns your data if you can not get access to it?  One thing I learned from this experience is that he who owns the data or access to the data owns your ass.

The first big problem I had with NetSuite was their business practices.  Once that was resolved we had a huge problem getting access to our data.  We hired an “expert” who said he had NetSuite experience and he was not able to get a full extract of our data in one shot after six (+ -)months.

As I was doing the research for this post I decided that before I condemn NetSuite for their data access and backup policies I should see what some of the other CRM vendors do for data backup.  I currently have full admin access to Salesforce.com, NetSuite and ZOHO CRM.

SalesForce.com gives you a weekly export function, it is free.  I just did an export on the account that I manage and it is indeed a FULL export.  Each record has a relational ID as well as the attachments.  A moderately talented database developer could easily make sense of this information.  More information on the Salesforce.com export functionality can be found here in their online help.

The ZOHO CRM Export All Data option costs $10.00.  It is a full relational export including attachments and transactions.   Again, just about any craigslist database guy could figure it out.  More information can be found here on the ZOHO CRM Export

NetSuite gives you a “Full CSV Export”.  This is pretty much useless as it contains no relational data and is basically a collection of your reports in a csv format.  I have not verified this but according to Ray Tetlow of Skyytek the relational option for NS is $4,000.00 and you may have to purchase the ODBC option as well.  I just tried to do a Full CSV Export three times now on our current NetSuite account and it threw an error once and then it quit at the part where I need had to download the file.  Like I said useless.

I tried to lookup “data export”, “data backup”, “export all data” in the NetSuite online help system and received zero (0) relevant results.  In fact the only information I could find was under a search called “full csv export“.  And it contains this somewhat humorous and ironic subtitle.  “The Full CSV Export option in NetSuite does not currently export ALL data as CSV files. The name of this option will soon be changed to CSV Export. “ Here is a screen shot for the naysayers out there.  As far as I can tell NetSuite wants to hold on to ALL of YOUR data while the others give your free or cheap instant access to ALL of YOUR data.  Also NetSuite seems to have a problem with understanding what the word “full” means.

Based on the fact that NetSuite gives you no out of the box relational export and they make it extremely hard to get your data out of the system through other means according to this voice mail from Kaylon Brown, President of Silicon Digital Systems Inc.   A reasonable person could conclude that NetSuite uses these “features” as sales tactics to lock the user in to their system.  The other online CRM vendors I have direct experience with seem to have a much more reasonable approach to “your” data.

If you are considering purchasing NetSuite I would recommend that you make sure your contract includes FULL, relational backups of ALL of YOUR data at any time for a fee comparable with other CRM vendors.

Part two here.