Wednesday, April 8, 2009

IBM Virtual Worlds Conference

I just got back from a two day conference that IBM hosted on Second Life called Beyond Blogging which is a conference billed as by IBMers primarily for IBMers but also open to the public. I believe that this conference was organized by IBM's Seeking Business Value from Investment in Virtual Worlds on the 3D Internet group.

The first day of the conference was more about how cool Second Life is for consumers. My own interests in Second Life are more towards how the enterprise can use virtual worlds as an affordable way to telepresence for remote teams to web seminar with a back channel, all in an easy to use HUD. That is why the second day of the conference held more interest to me. They billed this as "virtual worlds behind the firewall."

The first speaker of the second day was Neas Bade (Sean Daque) who is a developer for OpenSim which is a 3D Application Server that can be used to create a virtual world which can be accessed through a variety of clients and on multiple protocols.

He talked about the Open Source Metaverse where you can create your own simulator and connect it to a public grid for free. He talked about some EAI for OpenSim such as LDAP and web integration. When asked about integrating virtual worlds with cloud computing, he referred to a small group of analysts called RedMonk.

The second speaker for the second day was Rufus TT Horsefly (Neil Cats) who talked about how IBM asked Linden Labs to bring up an instance of Second Life within the IBM firewall on their blade center hardware (they had 250 users per session) in order to host their AOT Conference. Some of the lessons learned here was the importance of identity for attendees including the use of realistic avatars and the need for helpers and for training including help with installation of the HUD and with getting voice chat to work. He also talked about integration with their Domino product and an offering of theirs called Sametime 3D.

From this conference, I definitely get the sense that IBM is anticipating increasing corporate interest in virtual worlds as a way of mitigating travel expenses for remote teams to work together and as a way to reach out to customers in a way that is more affordable than the traditional conference model.

June Update: Now it's official. IBM's New Meeting Platform is Based on Open Sim.

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