Kitely offers flat-rate regions for $40

Kitely announced a flat-rate hosting option today, at $40 per region per month.

Kitely is an on-demand, cloud-based OpenSim grid that is best known for charging users for the time they spent in-world. Customers will still be able to use the previous, metered, billing option for their regions.

But those who want to have a large number of visitors — and don’t want to have to worry about charges adding up for anybody — can now opt to pay a flat $40 monthly price and then both they and their visitors can visit that world for free.

The fixed-price regions do not count against the free region total for those Kitely users who subscribe to a plan.

The new pricing plan is accessible through Kitely’s online region management panel. (Image courtesy Kitely Ltd.)

Each $40 region can support 100 avatars and up to 100,000 prims.

Megaregions are also available. A four-region megaregion is $60 a month, or just $15 per region. A nine-region megaregion is $80 a month, and a 16-region megaregion is $100 a month, or just $6.25 per region.

“We’re able to offer such low prices because our virtual worlds are only active when someone is visiting them,” said  Oren Hurvitz, Kitely Ltd.’s vice president for research, in the announcement. “When the worlds have no visitors they are taken offline, at which point they cost us almost nothing.”

However, each megaregion can still only hold up to 100 avatars and 100,000 prims. So a 16-region megaregion will not be able to hold 1,600 avatars or 1.6 million prims, as it would if you had, say, bought each region separately.

The prim and avatar counts are shared across all the regions in a megaregion. So, for a four-region megaregion, each region can have 25,000 prims, or all 100,000 prims can be in one of the regions, and the other three regions could be empty landscape.

As part of the flat-rate pricing rollout, Kitely customers will no longer have the choice of whether or not to disconnect idle users. When a visitor has been inactive for 30 minutes, they get a message, and are disconnected if they do not respond.

“Our low prices depend on the fact that sometimes worlds become empty and can be deactivated,” said Hurvitz. “If people can ‘camp’ in a world then it will never become empty.”

Previously, when only metered pricing was available, region owners could choose whether or not to enable the automatic disconnect option.

With metered pricing, the region owner can choose to have the visitors pay for their own time on the region, or the region owner can opt to cover the cost, at around 20 cents per user per hour. The basic free plan includes one free region and two hours of usage a month — six hours the first month — and the top paid plan, at $35 a month, includes unlimited usage and 20 regions.

Hypergrid readiness

The new pricing model will make it easier for Kitely customers to host hypergrid visitors, since there will be no need to pay for the visitors’ time — or have the visitors sign up for their own Kitely accounts.

Currently, Kitely is not accessible via hypergrid teleport from other grids. All Kitely visitors must create accounts and avatars on the grid.

Kitely CEO Ilan Tochner has said that the grid will become hypergrid enabled once there are sufficient content protection measures in place.

Many people had been hoping for fine-grained content protection measures to be included in the next version of the hypergrid protocol, HG 2.0, currently available as an experimental release and expected to be part of the next general distribution of OpenSim around the end of the year.

However, HG 2.0 will not include that level of content protection, which was expected to have a new “Export” permission for content that creators could use to indicate whether their content was allowed to leave a grid or not.

Kitely will have to decide whether to wait for this level of content protection, now expected in HG 2.5, or build their own system.

Ilan Tochner

“We’ll decide whether to add automatic content filtering functionality to hypergrid access after HG 2.0 has come out and we’ve had time to assess the complexity of augmenting it,”  Tochner told Hypergrid Business.

For example, Kitely built their own method for filtering OAR region exports. Previously, grid owners could either have their users export full regions — and all the content on them — or manually filter out proprietary, protected content. Kitely created an automated method to check permission settings before saving an item to an OAR file, and donated the code to the OpenSim community. For example, a grid could decide to allow users to export all “full perm” items but not anything with restricted permission settings.

On Kitely itself, users can only export their own content, or items that have both “Transfer” and “Copy” permissions. Content creators who don’t want their objects to travel can simply set their products to “No Transfer” or “No Copy” and be sure that they stay on the grid.

Kitely might apply a similar filtering mechanism to hypergrid travel.

“This would be consistent with how we handle OAR export — and how we will handle IAR exports when we add that functionality to our control panel,” said Tochner.

Whether or not Kitely will donate the new hypergrid filtering code will depend on how extensive the programming has to be, he said.

Currently, Kitely donates bug fixes and some improvements, but keeps code proprietary if it involves Kitely’s cloud-based grid architecture or Web-based management system.

maria@hypergridbusiness.com'

Maria Korolov

Maria Korolov is editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business. She has been a journalist for more than twenty years and has worked for the Chicago Tribune, Reuters, and Computerworld and has reported from over a dozen countries, including Russia and China.

  • “16-region megaregion is $100 a month, or just $6.25 per region”

    holy crap, that is a great price!!!

  • so Ilan (i know he’ll see this and answer) =)

    how would you anticipate a 60,000 prim 16 region grid with 80 concurrent users to run?

    apart from awesome, would it be a fair, good, or great user experience (assuming average broadband of 6Mbps and ping times of 20 ms)

    • Hi Ener,

      A lot of it would depend on the amount of scripts and physics being used and on whether people already have the sim’s assets cached in their viewer. A sim with 80 avatars wearing many scripted items constantly moving around would behave very differently from one where avatars don’t wear a lot of scripts and stand in place most of the time. Avatars that need to download assets for 60,000 prims will see more viewer lag than ones who’ve already rezzed them. Your mileage will therefore vary depending on how much stress you put on the sim and whether you’ve already visited it in the past.

      • lol, diplomatic answer. very few scripts (90% are sit scripts, 10% Omega rotation) and no attachments for visitors and no building allowed – as close to view-only as possible

        i know our performance on our server and 40,000 prims and 40 visitors gets heavy

        i’d like to add more detail like trash cans and other minor prim things (only 30,000 prims in actual static build) but am concerned with RAM

        how is that monitored with Kitely? can i see that type of load info like i can on a server?

        since you have firm limits in place, is there a firm number for the amount of RAM and cores that a 16 region setup can access?

        being able to see the Task Manager is helpful form me and something I am used to

        thanks!

        • If your world’s user concurrency remains high a sufficient amount of time then the sim hosting it will get an entire Large Amazon EC2 instance all to itself. Those types of servers are multi-core and have 7.5GB of memory. They host the sim(s) containing the world(s) and some additional services, while the grid services are located on our control servers and the assets themselves are stored in Amazon’s S3 cloud storage (with multiple cache levels on our other servers). This means that a lot of the load that your existing dedicated server needs to deal with is distributed to other servers when you use our solution. Given what you described you should be fine adding more prims but I’d recommend minimizing texture usage as rezzing textures can make viewers slow down to a crawl (nothing to do with Kitely, just the reality of how the viewers work).

          One thing worth noting is that the viewers people use can have a very big effect on your server load. Specifically, using v3 viewers will allow using HTTP textures instead of UDP ones, thus enabling your sim to offload texture delivery to our Apache servers instead of delivering them to viewers directly (this is part of Kitely’s cloud-based asset service optimizations). v1 viewers, unfortunately, don’t properly support HTTP redirection which prevents this optimization from working thus forcing the sim to handle texture transfer via UDP, which creates a drain on both RAM and CPU.

          You can see all the info that is delivered by OpenSim to your viewer but you don’t get admin access to the server running the sim your world is using.

          • o_O nice! dang, kind of a slam dunk eh? kudos to you and Oren!

            so, here’s another question – can you flip flop between both billing types?

            let’s say someone had a project like ours and the first phase of the project was development of their virtual world – could that initial phase be done under your per minute model – ie, only a few people (or one overly worked french canadian with wings and pink hair – i’m just sayin’) develop the world, so $35 a month would be peanuts in this case (gold plan)

            development would be nearly as cheap as using sim-on-a-stick!

            then once it was ready to rock and roll, switch over to the monthly plan?

            seems like such an awesome workflow!

          • Hi Ener,

            You can switch back and forth as many times as you like on a world-by-world basis (it’s all done via our control panel). Payment for the fixed-price option is monthly . This means that if you switch back during a month for which you already paid for that world then you will remain with unlimited free access for the remainder of the month then be automatically switched to time-based billing on the 1st of the following month. You will be notified by our control panel if/when you do so.

            Also, if you switch a world from time-based billing to fixed monthly price during the month then you will only have to pay a pro-rated charge for the remaining days in the month.

            Flexible, isn’t it? 😉

          • Minethere

            Let me ask a question if I may.

            Is there any thought being given to a future option to change billing dates? Such as when one actually buys into the program?

            Many ppl receive monies at different times of the month.

          • Hi Minethere,

            While I understand the need and would like to say we plan on adding that capability, I simply don’t see us doing this any time soon. Kitely’s billing system automates handling of complex billing scenarios for multiple plans and services paid for using pro-rated charges in two currencies (USD and Kitely Credits).

            To give a recent example, one user who was on the Silver Plan, wanted to cancel her PayPal account after she had already been charged for the month. She contacted us requesting to connect her Kitely account to another PayPal account, upgrade to the Gold Plan and be charged just the difference pro-rated for the remaining days of the month. Our automated billing system enabled us to simply instruct her to use our control panel to downgrade to the Free Plan (to cancel her existing PayPal subscription) then upgrade to the Gold Plan and pay, when prompted, using her new PayPal account. Our system charged her the exact amount she was supposed to pay and configured her future payments to use the new PayPal account.

            The fact that our system automatically handles all our billing issues is part of what enables us to keep our prices low. Making changes to such a complicated system requires a LOT of time and testing. I’m sorry but changing the system to support more than one billing date will require extensive changes which we can’t currently justify spending time on making given the other higher priority items on our roadmap.

          • Minethere

            ty for the very good explanation-))

          • Minethere

            hmmm..i had replied but it seems to be gone now…so, again, ty for your very informative response.

          • Thank you Minethere, I look forward to seeing you on Kitely.

            If you have any additional questions you’d like to ask me, then please feel free to contact me directly: http://www.kitely.com/#!contact

          • Minethere

            “PPS – Maria – you should change the article title to Ilan and Ener discuss Kitely!!!) =D”

            That’s funny..ty for the morning laugh!! I am just enjoying reading all this tho myself.

            I am finding kitely to be most interesting in it’s uniqueness.

            As soon as I refine MYCLONERL.V5.13 I really need to look into this. In the meantime I am reading a lot…and ty for this article and for being interesting.

  • Hi Ilan I left some new ideas for you inworld. I placed Gulliver’s Travels again and I did leave you a IM inworld.

    • Thank you Alex, I’ll take a look at what you wrote later today.