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My Earth Day Visit To IBM’s Green Data Center


Source: IBM Green Data Center in Second Life

Source: IBM Green Data Center in Second Life

To commemorate Earth Day 2009, I decided to head off this morning and visit IBM’s Green Data Center.  However, to ensure that my visit was carbon neutral, I left my car keys on the coffee table, grabbed my coffee mug and visited the data center in my pajamas.  My visit took place in the virtual world of Second Life, in which IBM has built an impressive Virtual Green Data Center.  The screen capture that you see above shows my visit to the data center lobby, with an interior design around a green (colored) theme [of course].

My interest in IBM’s Virtual Green Data Center was based on an article in Virtual Worlds News, which describes IBM’s partnership with Conversive on the deployment of automated avatars that “will greet users, answer basic questions, and direct them to other locations. The avatar also offers a guided tour”.  I did receive a welcome from the avatar and here’s the transcript of our chat session:

Source: Transcript of author's chat

Source: Transcript of author's chat

I’ll have to try again, but on this visit, the IBM Concierge did not respond to my inquiries.  My journey continued, nonetheless – upon opening the door to the data center’s mantrap (“a small room with double doors used to control entry to the data center and temperature levels”), I walked through the mantrap and into the data center.  Here’s the view from the first floor:

Source: First floor of IBM's Virtual Green Data Center

Source: First floor of IBM's Virtual Green Data Center

After walking past several racks filled with servers, I decided to teleport to the second floor.  Upon arriving there, I skimmed through a number of information kiosks placed there by IBM.  On a small display monitor mounted to the wall, I clicked to view some video footage from IBM executives.  I then walked over to additional information kiosks that provided customer case studies – highlighting success stories of IBM data center customers.

Interestingly, clicking on a kiosk that asked for feedback on my visit launched an external web page, on which IBM provided the survey questions.  I thought it would have been neater to capture my feedback in-world – but perhaps this capability (and the associated tracking and reporting) isn’t yet available in Second Life.

All in all, I was impressed with the layout of the data center, along with the information available.  I think that 3D virtual worlds are effective vehicles for explaining and promoting a company’s products and services.  That being said, I found it interesting that on Earth Day, I did not come across any other visitors – and, while the data center is supposed to be staffed 7×24 by live sales assistants / avatars, I did not see any of those, either.  I’ll return in a week or two to try again.

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