Dubai looks to SOA for e-services

Dubai Municipality is to bring in 27 next-generation e-government services in the next six months, as part of a project it is working on with IBM.

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By  Chris Whyatt Published  October 9, 2005

Dubai Municipality is to bring in 27 next-generation e-government services in the next six months, as part of a project it is working on with IBM. For the vendor, it represents its first regional win for its service-oriented architecture (SOA), the company’s new application framework. IBM will work with Dubai Municipality to implement the online framework to ensure the Municipality’s e-government infrastructure keeps pace with the city’s spectacular rate of growth. “This is an important move for Dubai Municipality. We’re committed to taking a customer-focused approach in our work, building smarter, faster and easier access to information and services from the government,” said Abdullah Al Shaibani, assistant director general for technical services. “Taking our infrastructure forward to an SOA model is critical for us moving forwards. We need that flexibility to stay competitive.” IBM is one of the leading proponents of the SOA approach, which takes everyday business applications and breaks them down into individual functions and processes, known as ‘services’. SOA lets organisations build, deploy and integrate these services independent of the applications and the platforms they run on. “SOA is a critical way of re-evaluating business and technology processes,” claimed Takreem El Tohamy, general manager of IBM Middle East, Egypt and Pakistan. “As an approach to adaptive, flexible technology in business and government, it offers a huge competitive advantage and scope for increased efficiency based on the mindset that has been driving IBM’s On Demand computing initiative.” The award of the contract, which will see the first 27 services rolled out over the new infrastructure by mid-2006, reflecting the Municipality’s desire to provide a vast array of e-government services for Dubai’s fast-growing population -— and the large number of multinational companies entering the market here. “For a government to provide service to the private sector, it needs to think and act like the private sector,” added Al Shaibani. “Our IT strategies and IT-based services have to meet or exceed those standards and, in fact, their expectations.” Last month, IBM announced it was launching its WebSphere ESB and WebSphere Message Broker products in the region, as well as expanding its SOA Business Partner initiative (see IT Weekly 1-7 October 2005). “Companies in this region have spent millions of dollars to perfectly tune applications and then poured cement over them,” said Bashar Kilani, software group manager at IBM Middle East. “The result is there is not one way to connect these hard-wired disparate components. A new emerging industry standards-based SOA is helping to resolve this.” Speaking at last month’s Gitex, Michael Bliss, technical support and marketing director for IBM’s worldwide operations, said the company was heavily focused on providing complete solutions, rather than individual products, to clients. This, insisted Bliss, is more in line with what customers need. “We know most of our customers run multiple architectures, have multiple platforms, and multiple applications and vendors in their environment,” he said. “So how do those really all fit into what they are trying to deliver, and how does it help them to become an On Demand enterprise customer? That’s our ultimate goal.” Bliss said the company has adopted a holistic approach to product development. “We are all partners now,” he said.

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