Technical Issues Will Cause Consumers and Consumer-Facing Businesses to Seek Alternatives to Second Life by the End of 2009
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.
"Second Life is acceptable for pilots and prototypes," said James Lundy, managing vice president 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 organizations face in using Second Life and offered the following advice to businesses considering deploying virtual environments:
Challenge One – Graphics Card Issues
One 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 – Downtime
While 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notifies users in advance of planned downtime via a Google shared calendar, that calendar has been found to be somewhat out of date with limited warning of future planned outages or rolling restarts.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 Emerge
Gartner 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.
"Second Life is a positive tool for learning, and as a pioneer in the market it deserves credit for that," said Carol Rozwell, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. "However, we urge organisations to look beyond marketing hype when evaluating virtual environments. Platform uptime is a critical success factor, and Second Life has a questionable track record in this metric."
Gartner analysts will provide additional analysis on virtual worlds at the upcoming Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2008: Emerging Trends, to be held from April 6 through April 10 at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. Gartner Symposium/ITxpo: Emerging Trends is Gartner's premier event focused on the emerging trends, technologies, business models and new management thinking poised to have a dramatic impact on business, the economy and society. Thousands of IT professionals from the world's leading enterprises rely on Gartner's Symposium/ITxpo: Emerging Trends event to gain insight into how their organizations can use technology to address business challenges and improve operational efficiency. For more information, please visit www.gartner.com/us/emergingtrends. Members of the media can register by contacting GartnerEvents@text100.com
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