Second Life News : Big Blue and Linden Lab Announce “Corporate Worlds” Project

April 6th, 2008  |  Published in Second Life News  |  2 Comments

By Sigmund Leominster

Imagine your boss asking you to spend more time in Second Life at work. For full pay. This may sound like a fantasy for SL devotees who risk the occasional trip in-world while huddled in an office cubicle. But a new joint project between “Big Blue” and Linden Lab may offer these kinds of opportunities.

In a recent press release, Ginsu Yoon, Linden Lab’s vice president of business development, revealed that research is underway to create corporate Second Life servers running on IBM servers and protected by Big Blue firewalls.

Past forays by big corporations into Second Life have been spotty and generally unsuccessful. From a marketing perspective, SL’s relatively small population cannot realize the sales of goods offered by real world companies like BMW, Toyota, and others. Another potentially exciting use involves fostering SL as a location for holding virtual collaborations, such as international business meetings, corporate training sessions, R&D modeling, and so on. Speedy advances in this realm have been slowed by security fears. Discussing your Brazil marketing strategy for your new Widget 2008 is unlikely to be successful if a group of griefer penis avatars start dancing around the conference table.

According to IBM’s Neil Katz, Chief Technology Officer, the demand for virtual worlds from corporate bodies is there. “We talk to customers all the time who want to use this technology in their companies, but they worry about keeping the conversations and information secure.”

The aim appears to be to provide the intranet-equivalent of Second Life behind a company’s firewall where employees can interact. If a company’s intranet is global, the SL server could offer a collaborative opportunity above and beyond the traditional “share desktop and phone conference” model. Departments could have their own SL buildings, international distributors could have SL-equivalent offices, global strategic meetings could take place at virtual conference centers with SL junkets to popular locations. And once secure access is achieved between corporate servers and the public domain, the possibilities increase dramatically.

The current goal is to have something in place before the end of 2008. This seems like an aggressive schedule considering the generally encountered instability of the current Linden Lab Second Life server/client system. But if IBM is prepared to invest significant amounts of research time into server security and stability, early 2009 would not be an unreasonable real target.

Two factors are at work helping to drive this project. The first is the now-obvious move by Linden Lab to gear towards expansion and a future IPO. An overt partnership with Big Blue can’t fail to have an upward effect on any IPO prices. The second is the potential threat from other sims, such as the OpenSim platform. It would serve Linden Lab well to become the virtual world of choice for business.


  1. Mony Markova says:

    April 8th, 2008at 11:58 am(#)

    Hello Sig!

    I think what IBM annouced is a natural shift from our open world, they will move into closed spaces, LL software will be run by IBM and behind closed doors in order to obtain a “propietary” collaboration platform.

    That has to be the answer for their work and safety requierements, and by the way moving out of SL allows them to elude certain distractions and side-effects, as well as temptations.

    I bet we will see plenty of IBM avatars coming into the regular SL just for fun and of course under different names, like regular folks spending lindens in a free afternoon.

    I think is a natural and smart move for companies looking for a serious collaboration platform, I hope Sun, Cisco and others follow IBM’s example.

    This might mark the beggining of the end of time when large companies sent employees into SL to explore, without preparation and without awareness of the ups and downs of the platform, at least as I hope.

    Bye bye!

  2. Second Life Business: Only 10% of Real Life Businesses Succeed in Second Life says:

    May 21st, 2008at 6:41 am(#)

    […] have greater success due to lower expectations, clearer objectives, and better constraints. The recent partnership between Linden Lab ® and IBM ® is a good example of how this might […]