IBM, Second Life create business-friendly virtual worlds

IBM and Second Life creator Linden Lab are teaming up to build enterprise-ready virtual worlds that can be deployed behind a customer’s firewall, the companies announced Thursday.

IBM is piloting a virtual world behind its own firewall using its BladeCenter servers and Second Life’s content creation tools, in a project demonstrated at the Virtual Worlds 2008 conference in New York City. Ultimately, IBM and Linden Lab plan to sell customers the tools they need to do the same thing behind their own firewalls.

Just as employees use the same Web browser to access corporate intranet pages and the World Wide Web, with this technology they will be able to access their employer’s custom-built virtual world as well as the public areas of Second Life’s “mainland.”

IBM’s pilot virtual world will let Big Blue employees use chat, instant messaging and voice communication programs while also connecting to user-generated content in the public spaces of Second Life.

IBM and Linden Lab have been collaborating for a while, having announced last October a plan to “develop open-standards based technologies and methodologies to enhance the Internet’s various virtual worlds and build interoperability between them.”

IBM also opened a virtual sales centre in Second Life last year and, separately from the Second Life partnership, is building an internal virtual world where work groups can have meetings.

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