IDA clambers onto IBM's on-demand push

IDA and IBM have invested S$32 million to make companies more responsive to changing market needs.

SINGAPORE--The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore and IBM Singapore today kicked off a series of initiatives called "on-demand @ Singapore", designed to help enterprises here become more responsive to changing market conditions.

The three-year collaboration will see the partners putting in an initial investment of S$32 million (US$18.6 million). This will be used to set up new programs and bolster current ones in the emerging technology areas of Web services, grid computing and the development of open standards, which IDA has identified as the key components for its new on-demand push.

Speaking at the official opening of IBM Singapore's new 103,000 square feet building, IDA CEO Tan Ching Yee hailed on-demand services as the next step in the maturation of Singapore's technology industry.

"Staying agile and competitive remains a constant challenge for businesses, non-profit organizations and even governments," she said. "Fortunately, the intelligent integration of IT with business can help organizations meet this challenge better."

To accomplish this, IDA and Big Blue will adopt a multi-pronged approach to develop the manpower and market for on-demand services.

For instance, the regulator will be developing courses and offering scholarships where undergraduates will be attached to IBM's overseas offices and research labs.

More will also be invested into IBM Singapore's Open Computing Centre (OCC), which was set up in 2002 to develop and deliver Linux-based solutions.

"We currently have 38 local companies and more than 2,000 professionals that have benefited from the Linux and Web services nodes of the OCC," revealed Tan.

In addition, IBM will also join IDA's Overseas Development Program (ODP), which aims to help local independent solution vendors (ISVs) market the on-demand offerings they have developed overseas. This closely follows the release of a host of new IBM products under the firm's new on-demand roadmap. These include the Java 2 Enterprise Edition WebSphere line, its Lotus Workplace software and its hosting services, which offer the option of per-usage purchasing.

According to Tan, ODP is targeted to generate S$15 million (US$8.7 million) in export revenues for the 10 to 15 participating companies.

Besides internationalization, IBM and IDA will extend the Infocomm Local Industry Upgrading Programme to more ISVs here. The program, which promotes alliances between multinational companies and local firms, will be expanded from 24 to 30 partners, a move that is expected to generate S$9 million (US$5.2 million) in sales for the Singaporean firms involved.

The collaboration comes on the back of last month's announcement of an S$8 million (US$4.7million) effort between IBM, Intel and the National University of Singapore to establish a grid computer center on the island-state.