E for Enterprise, E for Entrepreneur

e article image E For Enterprise / E For Entrepreneur*
By Sitearm Madonna for SL Entrepreneur

“When you get past the hype it’s simple: SL Enterprise is aimed at LARGE COMPANIES with their own DATA CENTERS for their own MEETINGS in a 3D INTERNET environment to SAVE COSTS. Nevertheless, it provides huge OPPORTUNITIES for independent developers.”

The release of SL Enterprise Beta (“SLE”) was officially announced by Linden Lab on November 4th. Everyone knew a “behind the firewall” version of Second Life was coming and now the details have been revealed. As expected, questions and opinions abound. Some are afraid this means the selling out of Linden Lab to Big Corporations but others are seeing whole new opportunities to develop their businesses in both Public and (now) Private SL. Here are the basic facts as known so far, based on an SL DEV Forum held November 5th with Amanda Linden (Enterprise Marketing) and Glenn Linden (Developer Relations).

Not One But Two

For the full impact of SL Enterprise to be understood it is important to realize there are not one but two components of the overall program:
1. There is SL Enterprise Beta, available now
2. There is SL Work Marketplace Program, available early 2010

SL Enterprise Beta is a stand alone, completely disconnected immersive environment with all the capabilities of the main Second Life environment except it lives within a private network behind a firewall. It comes with a web based administration panel giving the owner full “god powers”.

For all intents and purposes, SLE is “SL In A Box” (or rather, two rack-mounted servers with pre-installed software in several boxes). But it does have to be installed in a real data center with cooling system, uninterruptable power, separate DNS server, etc.

SL Work Marketplace, set to launch in Q1 2010, will be a stand alone, completely disconnected virtual world application and solution marketplace with separate, enterprise-wide licensing. The SL Work Marketplace will give SL Enterprise Beta customers a variety of content out-of-the-box that they don’t have to develop themselves.

SL Work Marketplace also provides Solution Providers and SL Content Creators a new market for their products and services. Although it’s basically “SLX For SL In A Box”, it does have major differences such as enterprise-based licensing, delivery of product via regional download, support (sellers are expected to provide a minimum of one year support of whatever they sell), and enterprise-level pricing (e.g., 1,500 USD and up is the rumor). This means that SLE provides huge OPPORTUNITIES for independent developers.

“It’s confusing at first to get it: SLE is COMPLETELY separated from Public SL: You can’t get there – SLE –  from here – Public SL!”

Whom Does It Affect

When you get past the hype it’s simple: SL Enterprise is aimed at LARGE COMPANIES with their own DATA CENTERS for their own MEETINGS in a 3D INTERNET environment to SAVE COSTS. Sufficient case studies have been published to show the most skeptical CEO that this is a safe and proven use of Second Life.

SLE will affect “Company X” employees for any company that purchases and uses SLE. There are currently 14 companies using SLE of whom seven have gone public to share their experiences (see list below). SLE will affect Linden Lab by giving them “street credit” for having a documented, proven use of 3D Internet platforms, as well as additional income from sales of SLE.

SLE affects solution providers and independent developers because of the opportunity it provides for additional sales both in SLE (Private SL) and Public SL. Why? Because a LOT more people are going to be checking out Public SL now, including companies who prefer a cheaper solution than SLE. It’s completely possible to have private company meetings in Public SL – after all, that’s where all the Case Studies came from!

The differences between SL Enterprise (Private SL) and Public SL are:
1. SLE Gives Full God Admin Powers And Autonomy
2. SLE Gives Maximum Security And Separation From Public SL

It’s confusing at first to get it: SLE is COMPLETELY separated from Public SL: You can’t get there – SLE –  from here – Public SL!

A comparison chart helps show the differences:

Type Of User Access to Sell/Buy Xstreet SL Merchandise on Public SL? Access to SL Enterprise Regions?

Access to Sell/Buy SL Work Marketplace Products?
Public SL Residents Yes (No Change) No No
Public/Independent SL Developers Yes (No Change) As Given by Company X Administrators(1) Not Applicable
Company X Administrators Not Applicable Yes Yes (Buy Only)
Company X Employee Residents on SLE No As Given by Company X Administrators Not Applicable(2)
Solution Providers and “Recommended” Developers Approved By Linden Lab(3) Yes (No Change) As Given by Company X Administrators Yes (Sell Only)

(1) Independent SL Developers (if retained by Company X) may be given accounts by Company X Administrators to log in to the SL Enterprise Region and create products directly. However, any such products created within Company X may NOT be distributed or resold outside Company X.
(2) Products on SL Marketplace are purchased and installed for Company X use by Company X Administrators only, not Employee Residents.
(3) As an enterprise-class product, SLE and SLM require substantial business paperwork with real names documenting tax and intellectual property rights status.

How Much Does It Cost

Linden Lab has quoted an initial price point of 55,000 USD for one year of licensing of Second Life Enterprise for up to 100 accounts.

The $55K includes Shipping, Setup, Installation, Software, Hardware (both Second Life Server and Voice Server) and Support (One Year). There is additional pricing available based on additional accounts needed. You have to contact Linden Lab directly for additional pricing information.

The viewer for SLE is based on the same code as the Public SL viewer, but has been modified to point to the SLE server instead of SL. Education/non-profit organizations are eligible for a discount.

What Comes With It

SLE comes with several pre-built regions, meeting spaces, business avatars, and clothing. Also the ability to download additional material purchased separately from SLM. Also a maximum concurrency of 800 users.

Using the SLE web administrative page, a company can bulk-create accounts, create regions, rollback regions, bring regions up and down, and so on. A company can give avatars any names it wants including REAL NAMES and of course the users can be any age in accordance with the company’s usage policy. And the company can share proprietary company information safely.

Current Beta customers include, Northrop Grumman, New Media Consortium, IBM, Intel, Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Case Western Reserve University, and DefenseWeb Technologies. Case Studies on SL Enterprise are expected to be published early 2010. Several employees of SLE users have Public SL accounts and have been sharing information on the Second Life Blog.

What If You’re Not A Large Corporation

Brainstorming has already begun on other uses for SL Enterprise besides (boring) company meetings. Could a tribe install SLE on a data center on its own land and offer online gambling? Could an aspiring entrepreneur set up an SLE site and run their own version of Second Life, with their own rules for who can have an account and what they can do there?

What if you’re not a Gold Solution Provider (the only group currently authorized for SL Work Marketplace) or even a Solution Provider (supposed to be given SLM access early 2010)? Well, you can offer your services directly to a company using SLE. All they have to do is give you an account on their platform and you can create custom products for them directly.

Also, it’s no secret that many solution providers provide a secondary market for independent developers who don’t want to go through the hassle of extra paperwork, or losing anonymity and autonomy, to work with RL companies. Simply sell instances of your work to SP’s with a full rights license and let them deal with the rest. Charge a suitably high price and be aware you will have to sign at least ONE piece of paper per SP for their protection. So pick SP’s you trust (check their references!) and build an enjoyable, profitable relationship to work with them over time.

And these are only initial ideas.

Has Linden Lab Sold Out to Large Companies

In a word, No. Linden Lab has geared up staff for SLE over the last 1-2 years and the executives in charge of development, such as Judy Linden, will already be looking at what’s next to be addressed. Because of the Five Second Life Competitive Advantages, the larger resident community and resident designer base remain high priority.

Be sure to follow the blogs and media: both the “official” Second Life Blog and private media such as SL Entrepreneur.

SL Enterprise Public Information: work.secondlife.com
Linden Lab Developer Relations: sldev@lists.secondlife.com.

©Copyright 2009 by Sitearm Madonna for SL Entrepreneur
Sitearm Madonna is Strategist and Expeditor for Virtual Worlds Projects in Business, Music, Tourism, Arts; www.siterma.com

Now that this is officially published I’m posting a copy here to help get the word out…

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