Web Services

From Vision to Reality

Von Ann Toh

Kang says he sees no drawbacks to his early experimentation with Web services and plans to expand its use on his firm's systems. This includes, besides collaboration with complementary service providers, providing trusted services. More services will be rolled out by May.

The challenge with being an early user is that merchants and government partners do not have tools in place to support Web services. To do so they must implement the same technologies so that systems can speak to one another. "Together with the IDA, we are educating private and government sector organisations to address their perceived concerns about Web services, which include security, cost, standards maturity and confidentiality of data shared." Governments, he believe, are a crucial link in the Web services chain. "People want end-to-end services, which invariably involve government services. For instance in buying car insurance, customers have to ensure their road taxes are paid. If citizens want to travel, besides buying tickets and insurance, they have to ensure their passports are valid, so government collaboration is key."

So far, the team has sold Web services collaboration successfully to Singapore's Ministry of Manpower and the People's Association, and is currently working to bring several more government agencies aboard the next phase. For the Manpower Ministry, which came on board with job openings on the portal, a concurrent Web services implementation took place. The security used in the communication with the Manpower Ministry is Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate, so the communication channel is encrypted. Kang foresees having to add additional layers of security with more fanciful applications.

A Web Services Revolution

For 30 years, integration has been an issue at the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), says its CTO Bryan Fitzpatrick. Since the 90s, it has had an architecture built around Lotus Notes. Over the years, this national statistical agency, which produces 200 to 300 collections of surveys published monthly, quarterly or annually, has been building systems to organise this data to allow its statistical consultants to access data across collections.

But these stop-gap measures were neither productive nor cost-effective in the long term, says Fitzpatrick. "We have made many changes using Notes and building workflow and collaboration applications, but we concluded that we should build component interfaces on pieces of infrastructure in our systems because we weren't getting enough reused. In some of the processing and dissemination systems, statistical clerks were still the glue that integrated these systems."

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