Mozilla today announced the launch of Hubs Cloud, an AWS-hosted service that allows organizations to run their own private virtual spaces that can be customized to their needs.
You may have heard of Hubs already; it’s Mozilla’s web-based social VR platform which makes it easy for participants across mobile, desktop, and VR to join together in virtual spaces directly through the web browser.
While anyone can make and join rooms for free in Hubs, Mozilla is now giving away the foundation of the platform so that organizations can use it as a basis for their own, self-hosted virtual spaces that can be customized and extended to their needs.
Hubs Cloud, available as of today in ‘Early Access’, can be spun up on an AWS server so that organizations can operate their own virtual spaces on their own domain and their own terms. It’s sort of like WordPress—a popular content management system that’s the foundation for many websites, from travel blogs to ecommerce stores—but instead of creating a flat website, Hubs Cloud creates virtual spaces which are fully owned and controlled by the host.
Mozilla says that Hubs Cloud allows for high-level customizations, like enabling organizations to run instances on their own domains and customize branding, avatars, and environments. For those looking to do even more, Hubs Cloud also opens the door for organizations to write their own expanded features and functionality, which is where things really get interesting.
For instance, an e-commerce company could adapt their payment system to their version of the platform to allow users to purchase goods directly from the company’s virtual showroom. Or maybe another company wants to use Hubs Cloud as their own private corporate meeting rooms—they could tie into their enterprise account system to require company credentials to access the rooms. Given that the Hubs code is open-source, the sky is the limit for organizations that want to extend the platform any way they see fit. And there’s also the opportunity for organizations to contribute code back to the project to make Hubs Cloud an even better starting point for others.
Mozilla is making Hubs Cloud available on AWS in both Personal and Enterprise versions; while they have the same features, the company says that Personal is designed to run smaller instances to keep costs low, and has limits on system-wide scalability. While AWS is the first cloud provider to run Hubs Cloud, Mozilla says it’s working to bring the platform to DigitalOcean next.
It’s a powerful move on Mozilla’s part because the company is acting as an enabler for virtual spaces on the web rather than trying to ‘own’ such spaces as part of its own closed ecosystem. Hell… you could even use Hubs Cloud as a basis for your own closed social VR ecosystem.
And that’s the point, actually. Mozilla’s goal with Hubs Cloud is to decentralize social virtual spaces by giving people the foundation to easily build and host their own, just like it’s easy to build and host your own website. The company explained as much in the Hubs “master plan” which we wrote about last week when it was first revealed that Hubs Cloud was soon to launch.