SAP plans to make it simpler for developers to work with NetWeaver in a bid to expand the appeal of the integration platform\u00a0that is central to recent versions of the vendor\u2019s ERP software.SAP has a busy week ahead, including a partner event and its latest TechEd developer conference, both taking place in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, as well as the release of the company\u2019s third-quarter financial results for fiscal 2006.At the start of TechEd on Wednesday, SAP will allow individual developers to buy NetWeaver licenses at a reduced price from its SAP Developer Network (SDN) website, according to company spokesman Bill Wohl. Previously, developers wanting NetWeaver licenses had to rely on the organization they worked for being an existing SAP customer.SAP also intends to make public new investments in companies by its NetWeaver Fund, Wohl said. The vendor announced the establishment of its US$125 million global fund in May at its Sapphire user conference in Orlando, Fla. The fund provides an additional incentive to development partners to build offerings based on SAP\u2019s three-year-old NetWeaver platform.So far, SAP has dipped into the fund only once, making an unspecified equity investment in intelligent device management software company Questra in August. The maximum limit on the fund\u2019s investment per company is nominally set at US$5 million. When SAP unveiled the fund, Chief Executive Officer Henning Kagermann said the vendor might look to acquire some of the partners it invests in at a later date. 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\u2019s working with to build up an "ecosystem" around NetWeaver, Wohl said. Nearly 2,000 companies are already building software using it, he added.The company will attempt to dispel the perception that it is still hard to partner with, Wohl said. The vendor will announce that it\u2019s unifying its channel programs so that partners in the small to midsize business (SMB) market will have the same working experience with SAP as partners interfacing with the company at the enterprise level, he added.SAP\u2019s 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\u2019s executives, while announcing a strong financial quarter, chose to indulge in some SAP bashing. Whether SAP returns the favor will become clear Thursday when the company expects to release its fiscal 2006 third-quarter financial results.Oracle\u2019s management had seized on SAP\u2019s July announcement of lower-than-expected sales during its second quarter as proof that SAP\u2019s 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.-China Martens, IDG News Service (Boston Bureau)Related Links:\n\nIBM\u00a0Pitches System i for Small Business SAP\n\nSAP to Simplify Banking Communications, Processes\n\nAccenture to Build Health-Care SOA on SAP\n\nIBM, Oracle, i-flex Team on Banking SoftwareCheck out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.