How are they approaching this less-than-straightforward subject?By Winston Chai Web services may not have proven their commercial merits but the Singapore government is banking on the technology to grow its IT industry. Web services are a method of writing software that allows businesses to interact via the internet. In line with the push, the Info-communications Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) unveiled a new web services development framework to cement the island-state's leadership in the emerging technology. "Web services will be one of the areas that will be an engine of growth for our software and IT services industry," IDA chairman Lam Chuan Leong said at a conference last Thursday. Lam cited optimistic analyst projections as strong evidence to the technology's market potential. According to a March report by IDC, web services are expected to drive total software, services and hardware revenue to US$34bn by 2007. In addition, he said Singapore's "high level of local and international connectivity" acts as a strong catalyst to web services adoption and deployment. According to Lam, the new framework was developed after several closed-door dialogues with technology companies, market research firms, educational institutions and end-user organizations. It consists of three key initiatives to spur web services growth. Dubbed Intellectual Capital, the first initiative hopes to lay the foundation for web services development through building the necessary manpower and intellectual property. Supporting this initiative are ongoing IDA programmes such as the Infocomm Local Industry Upgrading Program, competency centres, manpower development, as well as intellectual property creation and commercialisation. The second initiative, coined Living Lab, aims to create market testaments to jumpstart web services adoption. Programmes under this initiative are geared towards spurring flagship IT projects in vertical sectors such as manufacturing, logistics, healthcare and finance. On the third initiative, Lam said IDA will put in place an "Enabling Infrastructure" to address industry-wide barriers - such as inter-operability, security, network identity, semantics, web services management and Public UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery and Integration) Registry - to web services growth. A project on this front is the planned establishment of a Web Services Innovation Zone (WIZ) by IBM and tertiary institution Nanyang Polytechnic. WIZ plans to focus on web services inter-operability issues across different technology platforms. Earlier this year, IDA identified web services as one of the three focus area in its third Infocomm Technology Roadmap which charts technology trends over the next five years. Other focus areas include grid computing and peer-to-peer technologies. Winston Chai writes for CNETAsia.