Looking for an immersive platform for your company, non-profit, educational institution, or government agency?
Start with the following list of vendors, all of which have a successful history of serving enterprise customers.
Running a virtual world in a browser does impose some limitations on the environment. But, on the other hand, your users don’t have to install and learn complex virtual world viewer software. They will have to install Java, Unity, or another plugin, however. HTML 5-based viewers are on their way, but not yet ready for prime time.
Some of these environments will even run on a mobile device — this changes rapidly, so check with the vendor.
- Venuegen: Easiest to gets started with, but has the fewest customization options.
- AvayaLive Engage: Biggest vendor in this category. Full set of customization features, including uploads of custom mesh environments.
- 3Dxplorer: Uses Java, so no plugin required if users already have Java installed.
- ReactionGrid’s Jibe : Strong experience with the education market, requires Unity plugin.
- Second Places’ Unifier: Also strong in the educational market, requires Unity plugin.
- TPLD’s Host A Virtual Event: A Unity-based virtual meetings and events platform, used byÂ The Kiski Virtual School for Boys.
Browser-based virtual environments are great for quick meetings, sales training, facility tours, and marketing games and simulations.
These environments are hosted by the vendors, and pricing typically starts at around $50 per month and increases with the number of users.
Traditional proprietary platforms
In the old days, companies had to download and install server software, hire 3D modelers and simulation designers to create the environments, and install special viewer software so that users could access the worlds.
For some vendors, those days are still here.
The benefit of doing it this way is that you get maximum security, since everything is behind the enterprise firewall. You also get a battle-tested, solid environment and the most robust feature sets.
- Protosphere: Best known for life sciences simulations.
- VastPark: Popular with government customers. Open source version of VastPark is also available.
- SAIC’s Olive: Popular with the defense industry.Â
- 3D ICC’s Terf: Built on top of the open sourceÂ Open Qwaq platform, which was formerly Teleplace. Newest vendor in this space.
- vAcademia: Created by a Russian company specifically to serve educators. Includes ability to record 3D events and play them back.
These environments are well suited to high-end corporate training programs, disaster simulations, and 3D modeling, but require professional developers with expertise in 3D graphics, animation, training, and scripting. Expect deployment costs in the five to six figures.
OpenSim enterprise vendors
OpenSim stands apart, however, by the fact that it is already used in hundreds of virtual worlds — both private and public — and is supported by dozens of different vendors offering hosting, consulting, and design and development. In addition, because it uses viewers compatible with Second Life, there are already millions of people familiar with the user interface and the in-world building tools. OpenSim also has a vast array of low-cost or free pre-made content available for organizations setting up new grids.
- Dreamland Metaverse: Â Hosts hundreds of private grids for companies and educational institutions. Run by an OpenSim core developer. Reputation for excellent customer service, easy Web-based management tools,Â
- SimHost: Founded by an OpenSim core developer. Partner runs OSgrid, the largest OpenSim-based grid and main testing platform for OpenSim development. Vendor is known for customer service and custom development.
- 3D Hosting:Â Offers private grid hosting, with support in English and German. Founder is an OpenSim core developer. Best known for managing the Avination grid.
- Virtyou:Â Offers private grid hosting, with support in English and German.
- Talent Raspel: Offers private grid hosting, with support in English and German.
- Kitely: Kitely is actually a single large OpenSim grid, but the easy-to-use management and access tools make it popular with enterprises and educators. Kitely is also unique in that it uses the Amazon cloud to run its regions, and puts them to sleep when they’re not used, allowing the company to offer extremely high capacity regions for extremely low prices.
- Zetamex: The newest vendor on this list, offering private grids on both shared and dedicated servers.
Also see our full list of OpenSim hosting vendors, including those offering land on commercial social grids.
With the exception of Kitely, all these vendors offer private, managed OpenSim grids, and also provide support for behind-the-firewall OpenSim deployments.