Organizations need to think carefully before they deploy virtual environments such as Second Life, because of issues with access and use, according to Gartner Inc. Gartner said that the allure of environments such as Linden Lab's Second Life can be intoxicating for users and, in some cases, for organizations, but IT managers need to exercise caution and consider other options.
Gartner has identified three key challenges that organizations face in using Second Life and offered the following advice to businesses considering deploying virtual environments:
Challenge One – Graphics Card IssuesOne of Second Life's issues is desktop support. Second Life widely supports NVIDIA graphics cards and now certain ATI cards (but not all). This circumstance puts severe pressure on IT departments when a business unit decides that it wants to use Second Life. Not all business users will have access to a PC that is considered "gaming class." Gartner said that even in the same PC model from the same manufacturer, graphics cards can differ, and organizations need to examine this reality, especially as user experiences become more graphics-intensive.
Challenge Two – DowntimeWhile Second Life now notifies users in advance of planned downtime via a Google shared calendar, that calendar has been found to be somewhat out of date with limited warning of future planned outages or rolling restarts. Although casual users of Second Life have become used to this downtime dilemma, any organization that wishes to use it for business purposes, such as running training sessions, may have to delay or reschedule those sessions if loss of service occurs during these rolling restarts. These issues are usually intolerable for enterprises that expect 24/7 access, scalability and reliable, bug-free operation from their virtual environments.
Challenge Three – Other Platforms EmergeGartner expects that other, more scalable virtual environments will emerge to challenge Second Life in the consumer-facing segment and that Sony's forthcoming Home could be one of these challengers. By the end of 2009, Gartner predicts that because of continued technical issues, consumers and consumer-facing businesses will seek other virtual environments as alternatives to Second Life.
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