RealTime IT News

Qwaq Open Source Meets Virtual World

Setting up shop in SecondLife might be all the rage, but it isn't necessarily an ideal place to actually share and collaborate on enterprise applications. On the other end of the spectrum is WebEx, which allows for sharing in a linear 2-D space that isn't as immersive as the SecondLife metaverse.

And then there's Qwak.

Qwaq Forums is a new effort built on an open source base to bring a fully 3-D immersive and persistent space to enterprise collaboration. Instead of just walking around in a 3-D world like SecondLife, users instead are able to plug in enterprise applications like SAP, Oracle, Salesforce.com, design and 3-D modeling tools, Web browsers and Microsoft Office applications.

The forums themselves are persistent in that a user can be in a virtual workspace, leave and then come back to the same workspace and see what they did and what changes may have been added by other users since the last visit. Text and voice chat are also part of Qwaq Forums, enabling users to interact with one another in real time.

Greg Nuyens, Qwaq's CEO, told internetnews.com that the plan is to offer Qwak Forums as both a hosted service and as a corporate version that could be installed behind an enterprise's firewall. Applications can be added and enabled by Qwak Forums simply by pointing to the application path.

Security and integration with existing enterprise assets is a key part of the Qwak offering. Nuyens noted that Qwak Forums can be integrated with enterprise authentication systems like LDAP and Active Directory.

Usually 3-D and real-time persistence is a difficult promise to keep across distributed environments. Nuyens has an answer for that problem as well. The way that Qwak Forums works is on a distributed peer model so that some of the computation occurs on every peer. As such, Nuyen noted that it allows Qwak to scale much better on the server.

Additionally if an individual user has high latency and lag it doesn't necessarily mean that the collaboration is slowed down for everyone. Rather what happens is that the lagging user just ends up seeing fewer frames.

The 3-D engine that Qwaq Forums is built on is the open source croquet engine. Croquet allows for the creation of virtual 3-D environments and is the basis for some of the persistence technology in Qwak.

Nuyen noted that Qwak is a key member of the Croquet consortium and contributes back their innovations into the open source base.

"People haven't yet seen an immersive environment that is extensible; that's what Qwak Forums is all about."