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Virtual Environments and their effect on the Network

On September 6th, we held our first Networkers TechTalk in Second Life, Virtual Environments and their effect on the Network. It was well attended and there were some very good questions from the participants.Some of the attendees reported problems with their audio streams during the event, so here is the mp3 archive of the event, as well as this pdf of the slides. As you will hear during the preamble to the presentation, this is all a ‘work in progress’, and we have plans to drill deeper into the virtual worlds listed as well as explore the network impact of other implementations. If you happen to run into Dannette CiscoSystems avatar in Second Life, you may want to thank her for painstakingly editing out all the ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ from this MP3.The executive summary of the entire talk is that the traffic of virtual environments is sporadic based on the architecture of the world (cache-intensive vs. minimal updates to a static world), and bandwidth is generally limited to around 500kbps with a few exceptions. The key learning is that the ‘network hygiene’ of most of these worlds, when it comes to security, is still ‘sub-optimal’ (borderline miserable). Cisco suggests that customers keep virtual world traffic on a separate guest wireless network until more secure and consistent implementations emerge. We’ll be elaborating on this recommendation in future blogposts, as well as developing a best-practices design guide as soon as our travel schedules subside a bit.

Serious Virtual Worlds

logo.jpgYesterday, I had the honor to keynote the Serious Virtual Worlds conference in Coventry. The conference is entirely focused on serious business applications for virtual worlds and there were an excellent number of presentations throughout with some very innovative applications and platforms. Here is a link to the slides I presented, and I’ll post the links to the video of the session when they post it in the next few days.

Announcing the Cisco Industry Solutions Partner Network

For those of you who did not see the announcement, Cisco has announced a new tool for our channel partners and application service providers to interact, the Industry Solutions Partner Network (ISPN). This is a 3D immersive environment for our channel partners to discover the wide array of solutions available from our ASP partners.To quickly dispel any confusion, this is not a user-created-content, avatar-customized, free-roaming experience as experienced on the Cisco Virtual Campus in Second Life, but a 24/7 3D tradeshow with easy navigation targeted specifically at our Channel partners. As you know (if you are reading this blog), there are a number of different species of virtual worlds, ranging from pre-scripted web-based flash worlds, walled and open ‘free-roaming’ worlds, and hybrids. Each species has it’s own best uses, as there is no ‘one-sized-fits-all’ solution.We’ll be releasing more details in the near future, however here is a sample screenshot of the environment because a picture is worth a thousand blog-words. ;-) cisco ispn.jpg

What defines virtual?

A question that we often hear is ‘why would anyone want to interact in a virtual world versus the real one?’ I used to go through a lengthy explanation about virtual worlds being one of many collaboration tools and suited for some use cases better than other tools. Then one day I just ran out of gas.Now I just ask them ‘how do you define virtual?’ Is having an avatar-to-avatar conversation virtual, but an IM session is not? How about videoconferencing? Do you watch television? Read More »

Sustainable Futures and Virtual Consumption

iStock_000003929311Small.jpgAt the World Future Society meeting in Toronto in 2006, Peter Hesseldahl, the excellent technology writer, made an offhand remark to me that I am reminded of almost daily. He quipped that, for most people, ‘the amount of resources you consume is an indicator of your social status’. Exempli gratia..a private jet trip to Paris for dinner equals a high status (and buckets of emissions).At the same time, individuals and corporations are increasingly focused on more sustainable futures for the planet. Clever programs like the University of Hawaii’s Futures Project seek to engage students to compete for which dormitory can be most energy efficient, hybrid-auto owners are fine-tuning their driving style to squeeze extra fuel efficiency and mileage, and collaboration technology is constantly providing us with new options that can help reduce our individual or corporate carbon-footprint by approximating the ‘magic of physical proximity’.Networked Virtual Environments provide an excellent example of a collaboration technology that has the potential to drastically reduce the need for travel and the resultant emissions. Read More »