Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Unity verses OpenSim

Over the past couple of months Second Places has been looking at using Unity rather than OpenSim for a few of our clients.

We've always favored OpenSim, lets be honest, its free and wonderful tool.

However it has many "problems" and I do mean problems with quotation marks around it. These problems are not really problems per say but barriers.

Never once have I met a IT Manager after the boss has said "OpenSim" who has just gone, "I'll away and open the firewall ports just now!". As an X IT Manager I know the crap that gets put on their plate. I remember the power being cut and the CEO coming into my office demanding to get his emails (these were the days before remote working and iphones) he was serious.

So its in-bred that when ever a job lands on the IT Managers desk s/he will go out of their way to point out the security issues, the possible loss of data, and so on. Even though any one with half a decent firewall (really any Cisco) knows that you can only the ports if communication has been started from inside.

So if I were a hacker, I would need to break in to the network, log in to one of their machines, run the software, that would open the port to that computer, leave the computer running, leave the building and then I could hack the system!

But wait! I'm already in the system why in gods name would I then leave?

But as soon as the boss hears "Security" and the famous "I can't be held responsible" the boss falls in line with the IT Manger and its game over for OpenSim.

I can list nearly 30 companies that have been so keen to use it, but alas their IT says no and they lose their virtual world.

So Unity comes along. Well not just Unity, there has been other game engines out there we have looked at, but we have finally cracked Unity.

The graphics are much much better than OpenSim, it uses port 80 (apart from voice which is what we are working on now, /me waves at Olli). And it installs just a plug in for the browser.

So Mr IT Manager has no need to worry, you still get a virtual world (in fact an even better one) the only thing lacking is the ability for people to build easily.

I'm going to do a table to compare what we can do (for sure and we think we can) with OpenSim and Unity and hopefully those 30 or so companies who were put off by their IT Manager can come back to the Virtual World table.

I know were not the first OpenSim developer to look at using Unity, and I don't think we'll be the last. And I'm very impressed with what Reaction Grid are offering. And I think we're looking at two different markets now, which is also a relief.

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