Sony Online subs open source for Oracle

Sony Online subs open source for Oracle

Sony Online Entertainment has signed a deal to use database software from EnterpriseDB in a vote of confidence for the open-source company and its biggest customer win to date.

Sony Online hae also invested an undisclosed sum in EnterpriseDB, joining a round of funding that included $US7 million from two venture capital companies, Charles River Ventures and Valhalla Partners, EnterpriseDB said.

Sony Online operates an online gaming network for "hundreds of thousands" of subscribers.

It would use EnterpriseDB initially for back-office applications, such as customer billing systems, and eventually for front-end systems that ran its gaming service, Sony Online vice-president, business and legal affairs, Rick Herman, said.

EnterpriseDB's software would replace some databases from Oracle, Sony Online's main supplier today, Herman said. The company decided to switch primarily to reduce its software licensing costs, and picked EnterpriseDB because it offered Oracle compatibility, making it easier to migrate applications.

"As we add more features and support services the data problem we've got just gets bigger," he said. "Our needs and costs were scaling in parallel and it became clear we had to start thinking along the lines of an alternative solution."

He wouldn't say how many database servers will be switched or talk about the company's storage needs in detail. Sony Online committed to buying a very large number of [EnterpriseDB] database licenses up front, and to follow on with another extremely large number at a later time, he said.

The migration has only just started and Sony Online will continue to use Oracle software for the foreseeable future, according to Herman. "What we're hoping is, as our needs scale we'll implement more and more of the EnterpriseDB stuff we purchased," he said.

The company liked the ability to buy EnterpriseDB's software in a more targeted way, Herman said.

"If you look at some of the big existing players, you're buying bundled products that have a lot of software you may or may not need, but that you pay for anyway."

He declined to say how much Sony Online expects to save in license fees, but said it was a substantial amount of money.

Oracle's database has a list price of $US40,000 per processor for the Enterprise Edition. EnterpriseDB charges an annual subscription of $US5000 for its database with the top-end Platinum support package. Oracle recently launched a free version of its database that carries usage restrictions.

Oracle spokespersons declined to comment for this article.

Sony Online was concerned initially about EnterpriseDB support services. It eventually decided its support network, which includes offices in the US and Asia, and one to open soon in the U.K., was sufficient.

Sony Online considered MySQL AB, the most popular open-source database, but liked EnterpriseDB's Oracle compatibility, Herman said. The company ran its databases on Red Hat's Enterprise Linux AS.

Open-source still gave IT executives heartburn but has evolved a lot in recent years, Herman said.

"If you'd told me five years ago we'd be looking at open source I'd have said you were insane," he said.

EnterpriseDB's chief executive, Andy Astor, said the deal might prompt other Fortune 500 companies to use his company's software, which is based on the open-source PostgreSQL database.

"I think it's going to send a message to the other Fortune 499," Astor said.

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