Reuters is reporting that IBM and Linden Labs have struck a deal that lets IBM host its own Second Life regions:
NEW YORK (Reuters) - IBM said on Wednesday it would become the first company to host private regions of the virtual world Second Life on its own computer servers.
The project is in testing and will go live within several weeks. It marks a new focus by Second Life's parent company, Linden Lab, on providing software and services to corporate customers who want to use the virtual world for collaboration and teleconferencing.
This is bigger news than it might appear on the surface. This is the beginning of creating a grid of interconnected and interoperable servers. Just like the Web. The World Wide Web consists of 165 million servers, and continues to grow. If virtual worlds are to follow the same path, and I believe they will, then today's move by Linden and IBM is a significant step in that direction.
Linden has already open-sourced the client-- think Firefox. They have indicated their intentions to open-source the server software-- think Apache. This move today is a massive step towards solving the interoperability issues, and is a first move towards massive scaling. When these two issues are solved, the demand for virtual worlds is going to explode to a level comparable to what we have seen with the Web. This agreement between Linden Labs and IBM is a big deal.