“We have partnered with Metal Toad for over half a decade and consider them a vital extension of our platform engineering team.”
Sony is a company that inspires and fulfills our curiosity with groundbreaking technology, services, and content. This commitment has expanded Sony from an electronics business to a visionary music, movies, games, devices, and network services company.
Initial Enterprise Hosting Engagements
In 2008, Sony needed a partner to help them geo-replicate their vast international hosting platform. Metal Toad was engaged for a managed services contract at our hosting co-location facility in Downtown Portland.
Over the next decade, Sony and Metal Toad have collaboratively constructed a robust internal cloud infrastructure. Our cloud engineers ensured that all cloud architecture and hosting requirements were built with security, risk mitigation, and reliability in mind.
In early 2016, Metal Toad moved our co-location (and accompanying server stack) into Sony's internal platform and, with over 100 Sony sites under our purview, routine maintenance and upkeep has become the focus. A large international web portfolio necessitates constant evolution to conform to the irregular and unpredictable compliance landscape and Sony’s internal IT team entrusts this work to Metal Toad.
From version upgrades to health checks to ongoing feature development, Sony’s web infrastructure is in good hands. Metal Toad has provided nearly a decade of highly responsive and expert support to diverse international web ecosystems.
Enterprise Search Across 16 Business Units
The intensity of Sony's innovation and growth proved too great a challenge for the search feature of Sony.com, the company's portal to 16 websites and tens of thousands of pages. Search results were stale, poorly ranked, and simply not delivering the content that users demanded. Exacerbating the challenge was the end-of-life of Sony's third-party enterprise search solution.
After years of a successful cloud and development operations partnership, Sony engaged Metal Toad — and our outstanding design partners at Sisu — to undertake a competitive analysis of enterprise search solutions. While there were powerful products in the market, their closed-source and blackbox nature conflicted with Sony's objective of rich, meaningful, and finely-tuned search results.
Ultimately, Metal Toad recommended a massively scalable stack build on Apache Solr and Nutch. This solution offered Sony full transparency into every line of code and every configuration file. The modularized code would enable years of sustained, iterative improvements. The custom enterprise search stack starts with a finely configured implementation of Apache Nutch, a highly extensible and scalable search crawler. Nutch harvests websites into Cassandra, a distributed database system originally developed at Facebook. From Cassandra, relevant metadata is isolated and stored with multiple indices in Apache Solr.
To enable a degree of manual curation on top of the organic results, Metal Toad engineered a gorgeous Django-driven administrative enterprise UX empowering Sony employees to promote keywords based on corporate marketing strategy while curating the organic search results for years to come. The final step was to create the customer-facing Django interface that enables the site visitors to extend their searches across the entire breadth of Sony’s 16 business divisions.
Due to the increased relevancy of the search results to given keywords, members of Sony’s analytics team reported a 40% increase in successful hit rates within the first week of launch. The subsequent increase in qualified traffic to specific products within Sony’s online store contributed to overall improvements in visitor satisfaction. Visitor experience went from search result load times of 10-15 seconds down to a fraction of a second.
Now years after launch, the system has proven to be consistently stable with an untarnished uptime record and reduced maintenance overhead.
Sony.com Enterprise Homepage Curation
Following the successful search project, Sony reengaged with Sisu and Metal Toad for a redesign of Sony.com to offer their users fresh content, social media integration, and an engaging showcase of the full product suite.
Initial discovery dove into the many stakeholders across the Sony brand to determine individual business unit needs and a consistent web presence of the brand. Meeting each and every stakeholders' needs quickly became the overarching goal.
To accomplish this, Metal Toad provided a robust, flexible, and customized CMS. Content could be rapidly created and arranged into the homepage layout to be published upon demand by content managers across the business units.
Metal Toad topped off the project by enabling content managers to create basic pages and implementing the Sony.com search redesign. Building a user-friendly format for the content generators offered Sony the flexibility and responsiveness it required in order to reach its consumers with fresh content through multiple channels on a regular basis.
Ongoing Projects & Cloud Architecture
Currently, Metal Toad is engaged in two enterprise-class development projects to help Sony continue to build its international brand. We are in a constant state of readiness to help Sony achieve any and all of its far-reaching international business objectives.
From consulting to web to mobile to cloud, Metal Toad is truly Sony’s long-term technological partner.