Firms should think twice about deployments in Second Life, Gartner says

Firms should think twice before creating a corporate presence in virtual environmentSecond Life, analyst Gartner has said.

Firms should think twice before creating a corporate presence in virtual environment Second Life, analyst Gartner has said.

The analyst said technical issues will cause consumers and consumer-facing businesses to seek alternatives to Second Life by the end of 2009.

"Second Life is acceptable for pilots and prototypes," said James Lundy, an analyst at Gartner. "However, current technical issues would have a significant impact on any organisation that wanted to use it in a production environment, and we are advising companies to evaluate alternatives."

Gartner has identified three key challenges that organisations face in using Second Life.

One of Second Life's issues is desktop support, said Gartner. Second Life widely supports Nvidia graphics cards and now certain ATI cards, but not all.

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 that organisations need to examine this as user experiences become more graphics-intensive.

Another challenge is Second Life downtime. Although Second Life now notifies users in advance of planned downtime via a Google shared calendar, that calendar has been found to be out of date, with limited warning of future planned outages or rolling restarts, Gartner said.

Any organisation that wishes to use the site 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.

Gartner said enterprises expected 24x7 access, scalability and reliable, bug-free operations within their virtual environments.

The third challenge to firms is that other virtual platforms are expected to emerge. Gartner expects that other, more scalable virtual environments will appear 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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