When Sony Corp. needed a new Web presence for its professional services division, it turned to Microsoft Corp.s .Net Framework and Visual Studio tools to build a secure site for customers ordering software, parts and services.
Sony chose a Microsoft-based solution over a Java-based platform, even though most of the companys applications run on J2EE (Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition), said Jim Bilchak, director of new business and technology at Sony Professional Services, a division of Sony Electronics Inc., in Park Ridge, N.J.
Flexibility and ease of integration are the key reasons for the selection of Microsoft technology, said Bill Swift, senior vice president and chief technology officer at Brierley & Partners Inc., a Dallas-based consultancy that helped Sony update its professional services site.
Completed in April, the site, called ServicesPlus, lets users access 700,000 Sony products, with real-time pricing and availability information.
.Net Frameworks security features played into the selection process, as the Sony solution includes a secure module, SIAM (Security Internet Application Manager), which is built in C#, Microsofts Java-like language. SIAM provides authentication and authorization for ServicesPlus.
Swift said that early in the process, Sony created a proof-of-concept application with Microsoft because it was "trying to come up with the best way to use Web services." Sony was looking at Web services as an integration technology. "That was a key driver because they had a legacy system that had been around since the 70s," he said. "The parts information was on a mainframe, and they needed to expose it."
Meanwhile, "the security system, they decided, should be separate ... so other groups within Sony could eventually use it" and the company could recoup its development costs, Swift said.
Bilchak said .Net Framework established a basis for Sony to continue to cut costs by enabling it to reuse components built on the technology, such as SIAM.
By creating the SIAM module, Sony will be able to save the $300,000 a year it was paying to license security certificates for business-to-business commerce with its customers, Swift said. "The key challenge with SIAM was an authentication service that acts like a broker, so the system can identify you based on your user type to log you on."