Inside Second Life's Data Centers - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
News

Inside Second Life's Data Centers

As Second Life strains to keep up with recent popularity, InformationWeek looks at the real-world technology foundations of the make-believe world and developer Linden Lab's plans to stay on top of growth.

Even while Second Life struggles with its explosive growth and new popularity, the developer, Linden Lab, is redesigning the service to handle hundreds of times as much traffic as it's dealing with today.

Second Life is seeing 20% monthly growth in the number of concurrent users, going from a then-record 18,000 users logged in at once in December to a record 36,000 on Sunday. The maximum capacity of the current network is 100,000 simultaneous users, says Joe Miller, VP of platform and technology development for Linden Lab.

Rapid growth has led to problems for Second Life users, who often complain about slow response times during peak periods. Users also see problems with screen graphics, moving around between regions of the virtual world, and discrepancies in transactions involving the in-world currency, called "Linden Dollars." Search results are becoming out of date quickly.

To help deal with current and future growth, Linden Lab is looking to redesign the network. Linden Lab is looking to increase capacity from 100,000 simultaneous sessions to tens of millions of simultaneous logins. Linden Lab also needs to manage that upgrade without interrupting service to existing users.

"We're swapping engines out at 40,000 feet while still flying," Miller says.

Second Life runs on 2,000 Intel and Advanced Micro Devices servers in two co-location facilities in San Francisco and Dallas. The company has a commitment to open source, with servers running Debian Linux and the MySQL database. Linden Lab chose Debian Linux because the software is suited to scaling massively with a small IT staff, say Linden Lab CTO Cory Ondrejka. MySQL allows the server farms to scale horizontally, by adding large numbers of low-power servers as needed, rather than vertically, which would have required Second Life to run on a few, powerful systems, Miller says.

The architecture of Second Life is based on the illusion of a virtual world, built out of virtual land. Each geographic area in Second Life runs on a single instantiation of server software, called a simulator or "sim." And each sim runs on a separate processor on a server. So, when an avatar walks or flies or swims or drives from one sim to an adjacent sim, it's actually moving from one processor or server to another.

Users in Second Life -- who are known as "residents" -- buy virtual land to house their buildings and virtual furniture, vehicles, and other stuff. In real-world terms, what the residents are doing is leasing software capacity on a server. Nearly everything in Second Life, all the buildings, clothes, vehicles, furniture, avatars, and other objects, was built by residents and operates on resident-owned land.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Previous
1 of 4
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
State of the Cloud
State of the Cloud
Cloud has drastically changed how IT organizations consume and deploy services in the digital age. This research report will delve into public, private and hybrid cloud adoption trends, with a special focus on infrastructure as a service and its role in the enterprise. Find out the challenges organizations are experiencing, and the technologies and strategies they are using to manage and mitigate those challenges today.
Commentary
Who Should Own RPA?
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  2/18/2020
Commentary
IT Salary Report 2020: Get Paid What You Are Worth
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  2/12/2020
Slideshows
10 Analytics and AI Startups You Should Know About
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  2/19/2020
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
IT Careers: Tech Drives Constant Change
Advances in information technology and management concepts mean that IT professionals must update their skill sets, even their career goals on an almost yearly basis. In this IT Trend Report, experts share advice on how IT pros can keep up with this every-changing job market. Read it today!
White Papers
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll