What Prompted Sony’s Move from Amazon to Rackspace?

What Prompted Sony’s Move from Amazon to Rackspace?

From HP’s announcement to invade its territory (See: HP Seeks to Give Amazon Competition with a New Public Cloud Service) to the loss of a big client, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is facing multiple challenges to its hegemony. While HP’s move may still be some weeks away, the decision by Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA), which manages popular games such as Grand Theft Auto IV and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, decision to move some of its cloud workload from AWS to Rackspace OpenStack will have immediate repercussions to revenue, and more so to Amazon’s reputation.

The multi-million-dollar question is WHY. Well, it maybe a simple hedging strategy. In other words, Sony would not want to continue putting all its business “eggs” in the Amazon “basket.” At the same time, it may be that Sony is convinced of the additional advantages of multi-vendor OpenStack vis-à-vis single-vendor AWS. Considering that the OpenStack IaaS project, originally developed by Rackspace and NASA, now has the support of several providers – Dell, Citrix and Cisco come to mind – this chain of thought is not without substance.

While these strategic considerations are important in their own right, there may be some tactical elements at play here. As cloud computing followers will recall, last year in April last year, suffered a devastating cyber attack to its PlayStation network that ended up compromising confidential information of 24.6 million subscribers. While AWS had denied any involvement, a report on Bloomberg cited an anonymous source who claimed that the hackers created a fake AWS account and used the company’s infrastructure to launch the attack on Sony. This may have convinced Sony that AWS may not be as secure as they want. Combined with Amazon’s unsatisfactory response to another widespread outage (See: Reactions to the Amazon Cloud Outage and the Company’s Explanation), it may have been the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

Rackspace was quick to capitalize on this development which some experts described as a “high-profile win” for OpenStack and a setback for Amazon. According to an announcement by a PR firm representing Rackspace, the migration AWS to Rackspace’s OpenStack cloud platform was “relatively quick” at approximately six days, and unnoticeable to end users.

At the same time, Sony is in no hurry to burn its bridges with Amazon. “Sony Computer Entertainment America utilizes various hosting options, including those from Amazon Web Services and OpenStack, among others, for its game platforms,” said Dan Race, director of corporate communications with SCEA. “The reports claiming that SCEA is discontinuing its relationship with Amazon Web Services are inaccurate.”

We can expect some more developments as OpenStack battles AWS for IaaS dominance.

By Sourya Biswas

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