Remember Second Life? Avaya is now taking the same concepts of avatar based collaboration and interaction and applying them to business collaboration.
Avaya today officially launched web.alive, a new platform that enables users to collaborate as avatars in a virtual environment. The technology behind web.alive had its first life as a project at Nortel which began in 2008. Avaya acquired Nortel's enterprise business unit in 2009 for $900 million.
During a virtual event held in the Avaya web.alive environment, Mohamad Ali, senior vice president of corporate development and strategy, said that over the last two years Avaya has reduced costs by $1.6 billion and has redirected part of the savings into development. According to Ali, in 2010 Avaya launched 50 new products and pushed development forward. The web.alive effort is one such benefactor of Avaya's focus on development in 2010.
Ali explained that with web.alive, Avaya is aiming to tap into a new generation of users that are comfortable with virtual environments. He added that web.alive allows for a different type of collaboration that isn't possible with traditional technology. The key differentiator is the social interactions that typically don't occur with regular conferencing solutions.
The web.alive technology can also leverage Avaya's Aura SIP technology for integration with existing communication assets. The system can also enable desktop sharing as well as cooperative web browsing.
In addition to the actual virtual environment, the web.alive service also provides reporting mechanisms that can help track engagement. The system can also be tied into existing enterprise authentication system.
Avaya isn't the first company to try its hand at using an avatar based virtual environment for collaboration. Back in 2006 and 2007, IBM tried to use Second Life as a platform to engage customers and developers.
Avaya, doesn't see web.alive as just another version of Second Life.
"Web.alive is an immersive web collaboration solution," Avaya spokesperson Nicholas Sauriol told InternetNews.com. "While web.alive does share the use of 3D graphics technology with Second Life, the same is true with gaming (Xbox, etc.). However, web.alive is laser focused on enabling real time web based immersive collaboration."
Moving forward Sauriol noted that additional platforms, mobility solutions and further integration with the UC portfolio will continue to drive web.alive into the future.
Avaya is offering web.alive as a cloud hosted service that uses the Amazon EC2 infrastructure as its back end. The service is being priced at $49 month for a host that can handle up to eight participants per session.