In-Depth

Sony

On the World-Wide Web, there are sites and there are supersites. Such a supersite is www.sony.com which includes Web versions of classic quiz shows like Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, and a hugely popular electronic game site called ‘Station.’ In fact, just as the top Web sites blazed the trail of Web authoring, so have they become first to confront the big issues of reliability and load balancing of Web servers.

Mark Benerofe, Sony senior V.P. of programming, confronts the ‘megaWeb’ issues. He forged a close working relationship with Art Technology Group, Boston, early on, and has continued with that firm’s Dynamo server product as it has grown. Among the tasks it has handled are ad administration and user authentication. A move to Dynamo Application Server 3.0 is now in process, said Benerofe, which provides greater capacity handling, better load balancing, better failure recovery, better communications with databases, and more concurrent user sessions.

"We have had scale issues. When you are playing a game it’s a lot more intense that just calling up a news story. In games, one keystroke could require five calls to databases. But you only learn by doing," said Benerofe. "You can sneer at the [big players] like Yahoo and AOL, but you never see it ‘til you live it. We have been more informed by our experience with Station than by any other experience -- and that’s cool."

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