You know that new things are getting serious when the big names in any market start to take a real interest in adding the new to their current position. It seems that some of the new Web 2.0 technologies have reached that tipping point with some of the biggest names in the IT industry. Overall the most interesting part of this is how they see the new ‘non IT’ Web 2.0 stuff connecting to, and functioning with the existing IT stuff.
First up is SAP, who deservedly, or not, are often thought of as being pretty staid, but are right out there in the forefront of Micro Blogging with Twitter. Actually, SAP are doing pretty well in the use of ‘interactive’ technologies to support their customers, partners and their own staff, and have brought into their in-house team some hot expertise from some well known Web 2.0 leaders. My SAP colleagues are active in this for the simple reason that they tell me it works for them in making ‘sharing’ of information, expertise, etc easier. However Twitter is a long way further on from the now fairly mature use of the basic capabilities that ‘Wiki’ and ‘Blog’ based collaboration provides so to find ESME, Enterprise Social Messaging Experiment, a behind the Firewall version of Twitter running on Netweaver was pretty interesting.

Next up is Microsoft Developer Network Evangelist Zain Naboulsi encouraging the wider use of Virtual Worlds technology after some very successful product launch sessions in Second Life. The economics quoted are interesting, 500 people event for the day costing Microsoft $4000 or approximately one third of the normal cost, but then there is all the savings in time and cost for the attendees, not to mention any ‘green’ side to this. This has led to a group working on developing in OpenSim a ‘heavy duty’ virtual environment which is integrated with Microsoft Office and Productivity software.
I suspect OpenSim will figure more often in the development of the use of Virtual Worlds. It is an Open Source initiative to reverse engineer some aspects Second Life technology with the aim of making 3D more widely usable. Linden Labs the owners of Second Life have already opened up quite a number of APIs, but I guess this may be a step too far for them to support as it undermines their core commercial property. OpenSim is currently about to move to www.opensim.com but more information currently you need to go to their original site at.
Of course mentioning Open Source brings in the latest IBM moves. They have been a long time supporter of Second Life holding events there, encouraging internal use etc, but the latest news is that in working with Linden Labs they have been able to make Avatars ‘teleport’ between Second Life, and of course, OpenSim world. This interoperability is pretty important to the whole concept of Web 2.0 and its focus on people and collaborative working practices so this is big news, even if it is only at an early stage of proof.
I have left the Google moves in virtual worlds till last as I just want to introduce Google Lively in this blog to show their participation, but I plan to have more to say on how I think this may be as significant step forward in usability of Virtual Environments as was the introduction of Google Earth and Google Maps. Those used to the fully fledged and full on environments of Virtual Worlds tend to be a best puzzled and at worst dismissive of Lively with its limitations to a single room, a sort of poor mans version of a Virtual World. You want to to take a FAQs route to learning more about it or watch a video on YouTube to get to know more.
Most of the other big names are in the space too, Cisco have a usefully informative site and created a virtual world for their resellers last year, as an example, so you can do some hunting around to see how wide spread not just the interest but the actual involvement and projects are. My personal surmise is that this is where Web 2.0 will really end up taking us over the next few years. How could you use Virtual Environments practically with existing business and technology requirements? That’s what I want to cover in my next blog!