Virtual Reality

Organizations Should Carefully Consider Deployments of Virtual Environments – Gartner
by: Jerry Liao

Technology is really fast becoming a vital part of every company’s operations. One can’t imagine running a business with the help of information technology. But companies are very use to having the physical infrastructure like PCs, storage, servers and others. How about virtual environments? Will it work? What advantages will it bring? and What issues are involved?

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notifies users in advance of planned downtime via a Google shared calendar, that calendar has been found to be somewhat out of date with limited warning of future planned outages or rolling restarts.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”.

The hard and fast rule of I.T. deployment is always to consider all angles (pros and cons) before taking the plunge. Better be sure than sorry.

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