Sony links its divisions with Web services capabilities

With multiple business units using their own networks and having no easy way to share resources, global electronics and entertainment company Sony needed a way to improve its operations and efficiency.

The company found it with Blue Titan Network Director software from Blue Titan Software, which added a runtime network-control layer that allows Tokyo-based Sony to share Web services among its divisions, saving money and avoiding duplication of innovation.

In an announcement March 24, San Francisco-based Blue Titan said Sony's Broadband Services unit is using the application to help share developer resources with its Sony Pictures Entertainment and Sony Electronics divisions.

The Network Director layer allows users to control, manage and share their software resources using Simple Object Access Protocol and XML protocols across different networks to bring it all together.

Lew Chang, vice president and chief technical officer of New York-based Sony Broadband, said in an interview via e-mail that his company "wanted to create a solution for interoperability across all Sony companies."

Today, for example, a customer can't buy a poster of a rock band from the Sony Entertainment Web site, even if the band is one of the ones Sony is touting on its site. Customers can, however, buy electronic devices online at the Sony Electronics site. With Blue Titan Network Director, Sony can offer all of its divisions the same capabilities by sharing the online purchasing infrastructure it has already built, according to Blue Titan.

"We want to reuse existing technologies, reduce redundancies and costs, and create a more seamless consumer experience," Chang said. "Web services help us satisfy these requirements."

The first use of the Blue Titan software at Sony is for a keyword-lookup service for internal global-network search functions, said Sam Boonin, Blue Titan's vice president of marketing.

Glenn Hasen, the company's CEO and president, said Network Director does "in-flight traffic control" for user companies so they can increase efficiency and cut development costs.

Pricing starts at US$100,000 and depends on the size and scope of the systems. Sony declined to disclose the cost of the contract.

Network Director runs atop technology partner BEA Systems' WebLogic platform.

Susan Aldrich, an analyst at Patricia Seybold Group in Boston, said the Blue Titan software will allow Sony divisions "to have software in common" without having to do it all themselves. "Blue Titan provides this basic fabric of services that you can add to to create your own network of services," she said.

Jupiter Research analyst David Schatsky called Network Director a "systematic way to get the most value and maximum reuse of (existing) code."

The vendor marketplace for such software isn't yet crowded, Schatsky said, so Sony turned to a relatively new company that has begun offering such capabilities. "It's an opportunity, or maybe only a window of opportunity, for companies like Blue Titan."

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