SAP plans to make it simpler for developers to work with its NetWeaver platorm in a bid to expand the appeal of the integration platform which is central to recent versions of the vendor's enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.

At the start of its TechEd developer conference on Wednesday, SAP will allow individual developers to buy NetWeaver licenses at a reduced price from its SAP Developer Network (SDN) Web site, according to company spokesman Bill Wohl. Previously, developers wanting NetWeaver licenses had to rely on the organisation they worked for being an existing SAP customer.

SAP will also talk up NetWeaver to independent software vendors and systems integrators attending its Enterprise Services Partner Summit on Tuesday. The vendor will announce new companies it's working with to build up an "ecosystem" around NetWeaver, Wohl said. Nearly 2,000 companies are already building software using it and the company will attempt to dispel the perception that it is still hard to partner with, he added.

SAP's main rival, Oracle is also looking to shore up its relationships with its channel partners. Oracle is due to make a number of major announcements later this month at its OpenWorld conference in San Francisco aimed at both enhancing and adding to its current partner tools and training.

SAP and Oracle butted heads last month when Oracle's executives, while announcing a strong financial quarter, chose to indulge in some SAP bashing. Whether SAP returns the favour will become clear Thursday when the company expects to release its fiscal 2006 third-quarter financial results.

Oracle's management had seized on SAP's July announcement of lower-than-expected sales during its second quarter as proof that SAP's growth had stalled. SAP countered that the results were a slight blip and not any indication of a major issue with its overall performance, which has remained strong.