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Sony division moves some services from AWS to OpenStack

Cites last year's multi-week outage as reasoning

By , Network World
March 09, 2012 05:09 AM ET

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AWS said that Sony continues to be a "strong and growing customer," but a spokeswoman for the company said she could not speak to the status of individual business units of Sony. AWS itself has been the subject of outages, including ones in April and August.

A member of the board of directors for the OpenStack Foundation, which controls the open-source cloud-based project, confirmed that SCEA has been working with Rackspace on an OpenStack cloud platform.

Sony has been publicly discussing a move to OpenStack for months, including at an OpenStack conference in Boston last fall where Troy Klein, a Sony staff hosting engineer, participated in a "user story" discussion about the company's planned migration to the OpenStack platform. But, there have been no reports thus far of the company migrating away from AWS in favor of OpenStack.

SCEA is not the first customer AWS has lost. Last month, Zynga announced it would move most of its hosting from AWS to a private network, which it said allows for greater customization of the company's IT infrastructure.

Other analysts who track the cloud market said they are not surprised by SCEA's move. The company could have a desire to make a highly visible action in response to the hacking incidents, said blogger and industry analyst Krishnan Subramanian.

"(SCEA) is in many ways giving control of their infrastructure to a third party (by using AWS)," he said. After the hacking incidents, the company may want to show it has greater control of its IT infrastructure, he said.

Proponents of OpenStack-based clouds say the open-source platform offers advantages over proprietary cloud offerings, specifically related to customization of the cloud's construction, interoperability with existing and future technologies and the greater control over the system.

Floyd Strimling, an industry analyst and blogger for Zenoss, said from an IT perspective, the move is a "natural progression" for Sony. "Once an enterprise gets big enough, people have to ask themselves a question of at what point of scale is it cheaper to do it on your own?" he said. James Staten, a cloud analyst with Forrester, agrees. He said SCEA dropping AWS is likely more about Sony's comfort level in building its own in-house private cloud than an indictment of AWS.

Sony Corp., SCEA's parent, has been reeling ever since the outage of its PlayStation network and the news got worse this week. Reports indicate that the Sony Music, another division within the company, had its prized possession of unreleased Michael Jackson songs stolen after the attack last year. In 2010, Sony Music purchased the rights to unreleased Jackson music, which included songs with popular musicians including and Queen's Freddie Mercury. Reports have linked the theft of those music files and an estimated 50,000 others from Sony Music to the cyberattack in April. Two men in England have since been arrested in relation to the case.

(Editor's note: The headline on this story has been changed to reflect SCEA's post-publication assertion that it is continuing to use AWS as well as using OpenStack. Amazon's denial of Bloomberg's report was also added.)

This article originally appeared at Network World staff writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing and social media. He can be reached at and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.

Read more about cloud computing in Network World's Cloud Computing section.

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