Linden Lab and Rivers Run Red launch Immersive Workspaces 2.0

Back in August, we talked about what we felt was an inevitability. A Second Life grid devoted to corporations and business collaboration, online 3D meetings and so forth. We figured that the agent-domain system that allows inter-grid teleportation would be a supporting factor in this effort. Also, earlier this week that the growing-yet-eternally-saturated Second Life economy would cause Linden Lab to announce a new revenue stream some day soon.

That day is today. All these things, it seems, may have now come to pass.

Rivers Run Red and Linden Lab (after a bit of a shaky time with their initial announcements for Immersive Workspaces 1.0), have launched Immersive Workspaces 2.0. The clean, sanitized, and focused leveraging of Second Life for your corporate collaboration needs.

Linden Lab and Rivers Run Red have confirmed a strategic partnership to sell and market each other's products, either individually or jointly, and to explore developing and deploying additional offerings for Linden Lab's growing base of enterprise customers.

All of this enterprise product is a combination of Linden Lab's Second Life Grid technology, and a comprehensive set of management and collaboration tools provided by Rivers Run Red.

What, exactly, is the Second Life Grid? Technically, it is the confusingly-named virtual environment platform which underpins Second Life. Second Life itself is just one of the applications built on the Second Life Grid. Technically those applications are called Second Life grids.

You can see where the confusion arises from -- the Second Life Grid is technically comprised of multiple Second Life grids adapted for various purposes, one of which is the Second Life which you have experienced, or have heard so much. We're not really sure who came up with the Second Life Grid name, but it represents a consistently confusing usage.

In PR terms, 'The Second Life Grid is a technology platform for constructing and experiencing virtual world environments and applications. A series of advanced content creation and transaction tools enable individuals and organizations of all sizes and types to build unique virtual environments or buy pre-configured solutions such as Immersive Workspaces.'

Access to Immersive Workspaces appears to be a one-way affair. Your employees may, if you permit it, visit the Second Life grid and return, but your workspace remains inviolate to rude strangers or from contamination with assets and objects from Second Life itself. At least, that's how it is implied in the release: 'Organizations ... have the option of a completely exclusive and secure experience, with no connectivity to the Second Life mainland [that's the grid --ed], or a connected experience that enables employees to traverse the two domains without having to log on or off.'

There is the alternative possibility that what is being used is Linden Lab's behind-the-corporate-firewall solution. In this scenario (used by the IBM pilot) the server at the Linden Lab data-center is placed onto a custom network subnet, instead of among the rabble, but remains on the main Second Life grid. We've not been able to get confirmation of this particular technical detail. If it is the case, this would appear to represent the first monetized use of that scheme.

'Immersive Workspaces enables organizations to construct custom virtual work environments -- including meetings rooms and design centers -- that can dramatically change the way they collaborate and communicate,' says Rivers Run Red, 'A set of tightly integrated Web-based applications and the ability to seamlessly upload and integrate real world content -- e.g., PowerPoint -- brings enterprise-level efficiency and flexibility into a virtual world.'

And not just PowerPoint -- you can stream your whole desktop into Immersive Workspaces for application training.

All in all, taking into account the considerable value-add of the Web-site/Web-services component, the whole thing looks pretty darn complete. 'This "web presence" is essentially a website, which has various functions like media (where you store all your multimedia), meeting setup, news feeds, record of meeting transcripts, journal/blogging, stats, team profiles, a "go 3d" tab that takes you directly to your company's virtual space (so you're where you need to be, avoiding Second Life altogether), and then there are a number of functions for "admin" users.'

'They can handle their billing straight from the site, add/delete users, create teams, post news announcements on the front page, create polls, and configure the 3D space itself. Think of the Immersive Workspaces Web-presence and the complementary 3D virtual space linked - you can participate in meetings from the website (convenient for someone who can't log into second life), you can start/schedule meetings in the 3D space and all the chat would still get recorded on the website, and you can look up the profiles of your colleagues in the 3D virtual space in addition to the website.'

This is usually the point in product launch announcements that the respective company CEOs get a chance to sell the product with some quotable copy, and we're not going to break that tradition today.

'With the release of Immersive Workspaces 2.0, the enterprise is now presented with a premium, one-stop solution for collaboration, communication, and training that provides them with tangible ROI,' said Justin Bovington, CEO of Rivers Run Red.

Mark Kingdon, comparatively new CEO of Linden Lab said, 'In today's financial climate, every enterprise regardless of size or industry is looking for ways to increase productivity, reduce costs, and boost overall profitability. With documented benefits and use cases and enterprise-ready applications such as Immersive Workspaces from partners such as Rivers Run Red, the Second Life Grid is the ideal platform for enterprises looking to add a virtual element to their operations.'

Both are sound arguments with a topical focus on economy, of course.

Rivers Run Red will be showing off Immersive Workspaces 2.0 on Monday and Tuesday (20 and 21 October) at Virtual Worlds London, at their own booth (#216). We don't have any pricing information, though it appears to be subscription-based, on several models and time-scales. Rivers Run Red will doubtless have some sales and marketing information on their own Web-site later today -- and we expect the same over at Linden Lab's Second Life Grid Web-site.

For Rivers Run Red's part, the company has been developing Second Life brand solutions since 2003. Rivers Run Red has run a variety of campaigns in Linden Lab's virtual world. Some have been quite successful, while others have fallen quite flat. Bovington's team have more experience than most, however, and it isn't unusual for the best developer to be waylaid by ill-thought-through demands from customers. On the whole, we feel Rivers Run Red has been more successful than not.

And now they have Linden Lab watching their back, and the Lab's collaboration with Immersive Workspaces 2.0. Rivers Run Red has a hell of an industry edge in its favor, all things considered. Potential competitors like 3Di may have their work cut out for them.

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