IBM is using its own servers to host a private area of virtual world Second Life, allowing staff to collaborate within the online environment.
The computer giant is the first company to use a customised version of Second Life in this way, protecting the region with its own firewalls. The fenced-off cyberspace will allow IBM employees to discuss business and conduct co-operative work, without the need for data to pass through external systems.
Second Life was launched by San Francisco firm Linden Lab in 2003, allowing users to explore a simulated world by controlling a personalised avatar. IBM's announcement follows an increased drive from Linden Lab to attract businesses to the online application.
The new arrangement will be beneficial to both parties, said Ginsu Yoon, vice president of business affairs at Linden Lab.
"We share a vision that virtual world technologies and collaboration represent the future of business communication," said Yoon.
"Deploying regions of the Second Life grid behind IBM's firewall is a major milestone in the evolution of the internet and will help accelerate the growth and adoption of all virtual worlds."
IBM's Second Life environment is in the testing phase and is expected to go live in the next few weeks.