IBM has long been fascinated with the potential of 3-D virtual worlds and has now taken the next step and created actual 3-D virtual worlds that enterprise companies can use to manage their existing data centers or design new ones, as announced today by the company.
IBM’s new 3-D Data Center software can create a 3-D replica of servers, racks, networking, power and cooling equipment that communicates with real-world equipment to provide managers with a centralized view of IT operations. The environment is based on the OpenSimulator project and IBM middleware known as the Holographic Enterprise Interface (HEI), which can communicate with building automation systems to replicate physical data center operations in the virtual world.
Is this another novelty experiment in virtual worlds by corporate America, or has IBM found a killer business application for 3D gaming technology? IBM notes that the 3-D Data Center (PDF) can recreate two or more remote data centers, but is a multi-user virtual world, complete with in-world 3D messaging.
“Viewing information about your data center in 2-D text – even in real time – only tells a data center manager part of the story, because our brains are wired for sight and sound,” said IBM Researcher Michael Osias, who architected the 3-D data center service. “By actually seeing the operations of your data center in 3-D, even down to flames showing hotspots and visualizations of the utilization of servers allows for a clearer understanding of the enterprise resources, better informed decision-making and a higher level of interaction and collaboration.”
IBM has given data center managers the ability to replicate their data center assets in an environment much like World of Warcraft, and then work together to manage the environment – kind of like conducting a raid on a heating and cooling challenge. The technology has arrived. Do data center managers want this?
IBM is ready to find out (although it’s not announcing pricing). It will be interesting to track the progress of the 3-D Virtual Data Center and see if new client announcements follow.