IBM opens first Southeast Asia software lab

IBM Corp. on Wednesday opened its first software technology laboratory in Southeast Asia to help developers build applications for its WebSphere Internet infrastructure.

The S$1 million (US$545,000) IBM Software Institute will initially offer 10 Singaporean software development companies a test environment for WebSphere applications, along with technical support and training from IBM consultants, IBM said in a statement.

Small and medium-sized enterprises represent the largest growth opportunity for electronic business products and services, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. IBM is therefore keen to encourage independent software vendors to provide applications which run over the WebSphere middleware infrastructure, the company said.

The institute will operate as part of IBM's commitment to Singapore under the government's Infocomm Local Industry Upgrading Program (iLIUP) scheme. Under iLIUP, which the government has backed to the tune of S$11 million so far, multinational technology companies are encouraged to take on local partners and provide them with leading edge technology,technical support and marketing expertise.

The aim is to enable small Singapore companies to develop advanced products and sell them into the global market, where WebSphere is used by over 50,000 customers, IBM said in its statement.

Multinationals involved in iLIUP include IBM, Microsoft Corp., Computer Associates International Inc., Oracle Corp., Compaq Computer Corp., Cisco Systems Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., Sun Microsystems Inc., Software AG and Apple Computer Inc.

IBM has a major software laboratory in India, which concentrates on IBM Linux initiatives and a lab in Japan researching Java, XML (Extensible Markup Language) and data mining technologies. IBM's China Research Laboratory (CRL) in Beijing develops technologies specific to the Chinese market.

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