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New problem for Amazon: Sony defects to OpenStack

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Updated: Sony’s(s sne) gaming arm is moving at least some of its workload from Amazon Web Services(s amzn) to the rival Rackspace(s rax) OpenStack. That move shows that, although AWS remains the leader in public cloud infrastructure, it faces increasing competition from OpenStack and other alternatives for enterprise workloads.

Such a high-profile win is good news for Rackspace, which initiated the OpenStack open-source cloud infrastructure project with NASA two years ago. Hewlett-Packard(s hpq), Dell(s dell), Citrix(s Ctsx) and Cisco(s csco) all back OpenStack to some degree, and some already host OpenStack services.

The Sony move, reported by NetworkWorld, comes after last year’s massive security breach, which compromised the personal identity information of millions of players of Sony’s gaming networks.

And any defection by Sony is bad news for industry leader Amazon, which continues to release new features and cut prices on its wide array of cloud services.

Update: Jim Curry, GM of Rackspace’s Cloud Builders team, confirmed that his group is working with Sony Computer Entertainment of America (SCEA) on OpenStack implementations but would not comment on a possible migration, but there have been public indications of Sony cozying up to OpenStack since last year’s meltdown. It presented at a session on cloud alternatives at the OpenStack Conference last fall, for example.  An Amazon spokesman said that Sony is a big and growing AWS customer. Messages left for a Sony spokesperson were not returned. A Sony spokesman got back Friday afternoon with the following statement:

“Sony Computer Entertainment America utilizes various hosting options, including those from Amazon Web Services and OpenStack, among others, for its game platforms. The reports claiming that SCEA is discontinuing its relationship with Amazon Web Services are inaccurate.”

AWS big and growing — but not invulnerable

While Amazon is the 800-lb gorilla in public cloud, with millions of customers, some see vulnerabilities. For one thing, as Matrix Partners’ Charlie Oppenheimer pointed out in GigaOM recently, in some cases it can be cheaper to host workloads in-house than put them on AWS. And cloud competitors Google(s goog) and Microsoft continue to cut prices on their cloud services.

Price is one thing. Security and reliability are another, and slippage there could be more perilous for Amazon. Breaches like what happened with Sony, along with another multi-day AWS outage last year, show that Amazon still has room to improve. Last month, another huge AWS customer, Zynga (s znga), said it has moved much of its workload into its internal Z cloud from Amazon, although it did not cite any concern over AWS reliability or security as a reason.

But Amazon has been in the infrastructure-as-a-service game for years, while OpenStack remains largely in beta. (Internap is the only company claiming a commercial-grade implementation at this point.)

Glitches cast doubts on the cloud, not just on AWS

The Sony problem started to surface late last April when the company acknowledged — a few weeks after it discovered the issue — that its PlayStation and Qriocity networks had been compromised. In May, Sony acknowledged that the personal information from 24.6 million Sony Online Entertainment accounts may have been stolen, and that other information from an older database was also compromised.

The huge breach caused many to rethink the notion of cloud computing as a safe venue for their personal information and was seen as a black eye for AWS, although Sony said it had no evidence that AWS itself was to blame for the breach.

9 Responses to “New problem for Amazon: Sony defects to OpenStack”

  1. alhopper

    why does is matter what Sony does??? Sony has already demonstrated that they can’t manage their user IDs/passwords. Even when they are maintained on secure Amazon Web Services infrastructure.

    Basically Sony is not a cloud customer that I would see as having any time of leadership role. The fact that they are reducing their use of AWS tells me nothing. In fact, its more likely to be a *stupid* move on their part – given their track record of technical incompetence!!

  2. Curious

    Will Sony be using OpenStack software to manage their own servers, or will they be using Rackspace servers? These are entirely two different things. OpenStack is managed by an independent foundation and not by Rackspace. This article needs to make this distinction more clear.

  3. CloudArchitect

    This article doesn’t make any sense. How is the security breach related to AWS? Sony itself had admitted there is no evidence that AWS is reason for breach (see last line in article). Security breach occurred as sony had insufficient algorithmic protection for their data. It has nothing to do with cloud. Regarding cloud outages, it happens everywhere. Last week Microsoft Azure went down due to a simple leap year bug. There happens to be not much information on outages suffered by Rackspace, as nobody is using it. The reporter should be doing a better job of analyzing information rather than plainly accepting the story given by Rackspace.

    • Stephen Johnson

      I’m not familiar with the author, so I do hesitate to say this, but the writing seems disingenuous. There is an unstated, but seemingly implied connection that equates Amazon with security issues and this strikes me as a bit underhanded.

      I’m not the target market for these services, so from that perspective I don’t really care (are there actually cloud fanboy/girls?), but I do read a lot of tech news sites and I just hate to see things like this.

      • the perception at the time of the sony meltdown was that there was an AWS issue — although, as i stated in my story, Sony said there was no evidence of this. Given AWS status as the market leader, news that a major customer is putting even some workloads elsewhere is newsworthy, i think. i expect there will be more on this topic t/c. thank you for your note.

  4. jamesf

    This seems to be smart infrastructure/integrity planning on Sony’s part rather than any sort of statement about costs/quality of AWS or Openstack (i.e. Eggs -> multiple baskets). If I were running something the size of Sony, and my minions (which would be their job titles) came to me and said that we’re down because our SINGLE cloud vendor went down, I’d be firing architects and waiting for my own head to roll. Well, I’d do that after I finished my breakfast champagne…