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SAP Puts The Emphasis on Partners

SAP's got an eye on its developers.

The company said today at its TechEd conference in Amsterdam that it will lower the price of its developer user license. It did not disclose the exact size of the price break.

Previously, developers could only gain access to the platform by doing business with a SAP customer or purchasing a license at full price.

The announcement is one of several aimed at increasing loyalty within its developer community and increasing the number of developers working off its NetWeaver platform.

According to SAP spokesman Bill Wohl, SAP is responding to "a dramatic increase in the number of independent software vendors and systems integrators working on the platform."

Wohl said SAP is focused on its partner community because no single software vendor can provide every solution required by enterprises.

"The company that wins is the one that has the strongest ecosystem," he told internetnews.com.

Not surprisingly, Wohl said that SAP has the strongest ecosystem.

The discounted user license will be offered through the SAP Developer Network (SDN) site beginning in 2007. p> The company expects the program to be adopted mainly by individuals, and includes an annual license and access to certain value-added services.

"Developers are a critical part of the SAP ecosystem, and we will continue to enhance and extend the many resources and tools we offer to the worldwide developer community," said Zia Yusuf, SAP executive vice president for platform ecosystem, in a statement.

According to Richard Ptak, principal analyst with Ptak, Noel & Associates, the program is an effective way for SAP to solidify loyalty for, and create new business around, its own platform.

"It's fundamental to the long-range success of a company like SAP," he told internetnews.com.

SAP also announced a new set of consulting services to help developers and third-party vendors identify best practices and outline a suitable SOA  strategy for their customers.

According to Ptak, this is another way for SAP to shore up its partners as the market evolves towards Web services and open source solutions.

"They're trying to help their customers get value from these new IT architectures and the focus on business processes as they become mainstream in the future," he said.

Wohl noted that SAP also uses its consulting service to gain a better understanding of its customers.

But he noted that SAP is only after a small portion of the consulting market, and that it values its relationships with firms such as IBM , Accenture  and Bearingpoint .

Ptak suggested that SAP is looking to buttress its position in the services arena, too.

"They're anticipating competition from business process consulting companies like IBM with global services," he said.