Second Life is getting a second wind behind the firewall from its parent Linden Lab. The company Nov. 4 began selling the 3D virtual world software to enterprises that want to use it to let their employees work together in virtual meetings or simulations.
Second Life is a 3D virtual world technology that lets users create digital personas, or avatars, and mingle with others in virtual worlds that include streets, stores and buildings.
Initially launched for consumers in 2003, more than 1,400 businesses, government organizations and agencies have used Second Life to hold meetings, conduct training and prototype new technologies as a solution hosted by Linden Lab.
But some businesses, including some that are currently using the SAAS (software as a service) model of Second Life, prefer the control of hosting and managing applications themselves.
That's why Linden Lab created Second Life Enterprise, which includes the same user interface and features of the hosted version, including Voice over IP (VOIP), text chat and 3D collaboration to let workers add and share media files and documents.
Second Life Enterprise includes LDAP integration, intranet-grade authentication and central access controls for protecting proprietary information and managing content created in the 3D worlds, Chris Collins, general manager for enterprise at Linden Lab, told eWEEK.
Starting at $55,000 for a server (two 1U blades) loaded with the virtual world software, Second Life Enterprise comes with seven prepackaged 3D regions. These include a four-corners auditorium, two conference centers and sandbox regions, where users can test virtual items and practice building. To people these regions, Linden Lab is offering business avatars.
Moreover, Collins said existing Second Life customers can move the content they created in the hosted iteration over to the Second Life Enterprise beta environment, effectively saving their work. Second Life Enterprise can support up to eight regions simultaneously and 800 concurrent users in the same world.
Though just in an open beta, Linden Lab already counts IBM, defense contractor Northrup Grumman and the U.S. Navy among the 14 organizations using Second Life Enterprise.
IBM lets workgroups host virtual meetings in Second Life Enterprise. Northrop Grumman uses Second Life Enterprise to simulate the control panel on a bomb disposal device, allowing workers to safely learn how it works.
Linden Lab expects the beta program to run through the fourth quarter, with general availability in the first half of 2010.
Linden Lab is also building the Second Life Work Marketplace to let customers find, test and buy content from Second Life's third-party developers. This way customers can save the time associated with creating 3D applications, while Second Life developers can make money from their 3D work. Linden Lab will take a cut of the proceeds.