Second Life creator Linden Lab has launched a beta programme that will offer a behind-the-firewall virtual world for enterprises.
Second Life Enterprise will be launched in the first half of 2010, and will let customers extend their businesses to virtual world environments, the firm said.
The beta version will run completely within the enterprise network, and will be supported by enterprise levels of security much like an intranet. Linden Lab said that this will allow the secure sharing of confidential and proprietary information.
Other features include Second Life staples such as customised avatars and visual, audio and text collaboration. Seven virtual regions are offered, including an auditorium for company meetings, two conference centres, and 'sandboxes' where users can build their own virtual items and buildings.
Beta users will be able to create their own avatars and give them their own names, while ready-built avatars will make it easy for companies to start using Second Life Enterprise straight out of the box.
"We have worked very closely with our enterprise customers to develop a solution that fits seamlessly within their existing networks while also solving real business challenges," said Mark Kingdon, chief executive at Linden Lab.
"Second Life Enterprise users will be able to take the single biggest advantage of working in Second Life - the breadth and quality of content - and use it in environments hosted behind their firewalls.
IBM currently offers a secure version of Second Life, and claims that almost 14,000 customers are using the service.
Pricing for the Second Life Enterprise server appliance starts at $55,000 (£33,000).
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