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
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.”