The Kitely Revolution: An Easy, Cheap, Cloud-Powered Virtual World Hosting Service the "WordPress of OpenSim"
- It's extremely quick and easy to use. Facebook Connect creates your account in seconds. A small plug-in downloads in a few more seconds, then when you want to enter a Kitely-hosted world, one button launches a Second Life-compatible viewer (or in my case, an official SL viewer.) I was able to create and enter the mini-world pictured above in under 3 minutes.
- It's very cheap. Kitely hosts and deploys OpenSim-based virtual worlds on Amazon's cloud service, which means for most use cases, it's many times cheaper than buying and running a Second Life sim. As a cloud-based service, you pay only for use, now billed at 20 cents an hour per user. So, for example, if you ran an in-world event for 50 people for an hour, that'd cost you just $10.
- It's easily shareable: You can share worlds as easily as you would a URL. So for instance, you can click this Kitely link and go directly to Andrek Lowell's world. (Where he has already figured out how to upload meshes.) Essentially, it's now as easy to share and enter an OpenSim-compatible world as it is with Second Life SLurl links.
- It's compatible with OpenSim files. When you create a world on Kitely, you can upload an OpenSim Archive (or OAR) file and instantly make that your world. "[I] uploaded an OAR and was standing on my own sim in under 2 minutes," architect Jon Brouchoud tells me. "I'm not aware of any other service quite so fast and easy for setting up a new sim... It's like being able to turn to a fresh page in a sketchbook any time you want to start brainstorming a new idea or project, with no waiting period or technical know-how required."
Brouchoud, who is a leading innovator in using virtual worlds for architecture, tells me he thinks Kitely is a big deal indeed:
Andrek Lowell uploads meshes into Kitely, as Bettina Tizzy looks on (Image source)
"I think this could be a good thing for the wider OpenSim ecosystem/community," Jon tells me. "I heard quite a bit of back-chat from people who had previously been somewhat intimidated by OpenSim, but were now able to set up their own sim and invite friends over in a matter of minutes. In that way, it seems like Kitely somehow demystifies, simplifies and speeds up the sim creation process, which I think will, at the very least, serve as a kind of gateway toward driving even more interest toward greater OpenSim adoption in general."
This isn't to say Kitely is the ideal solution for all instances. If you have a highly popular, well-monetized Second Life sim, for example Kitely is probably not for you (least not yet.) Jon Brouchoud puts it this way: "If hosting providers are the GoDaddy of OpenSim, it seems like Kitely is like the Wordpress. You can get a sim up quickly and easily, but if your project requires more back-end access and control, or you wish to incorporate your sim into a larger existing community/grid, then you're probably better off going with a hosting provider that can offer more personalized support and assistance."
I've often thought that OpenSim was a niche of a niche, but with Kitely, that may not be the case. It's easy to see more and more Second Life users willing to try OpenSim via Kitely -- or even move over to it from SL entirely. That in mind, I imagine New World Notes will be writing more about Kitely soon. Meantime, read this in-depth interview with Kitely CEO Ilan Tochner, from Hypergrid Business, and more analysis from SL/OpenSim developer Ener Hax.
Hat tip (and hug): Bettina Tizzy.