February 15, 2007 1:42am CST
An intranet is basically a private web based network. It uses all of the technology of the internet but is safe and protected behind a firewall that keeps unauthorized personnel out. Companies have been using them for years as a method of streamlining their internal communications. Because a web browser can run on any type of computer, the need to maintain multiple paper copies of documents that are constantly changing can be eliminated. Documents like training manuals, internal phone books, procedure manuals, benefits information, employee handbooks, requisition forms, etc. can be maintained as electronic documents and updated at almost no cost. The savings in paper and other material costs can be significant But the most powerful aspect of an intranet is its ability to display information in the same format to every computer being used. That allows all of the different software and databases a company uses to be available to all employees without any special equipment or software being installed on their systems.
15 Feb 07
An intranet is a private computer network that uses Internet protocols, network connectivity, and possibly the public telecommunication system to securely share part of an organization's information or operations with its employees. Sometimes the term refers only to the most visible service, the internal website. The same concepts and technologies of the Internet such as clients and servers running on the Internet protocol suite are used to build an intranet. HTTP and other Internet protocols are commonly used as well, especially FTP and e-mail. There is often an attempt to use Internet technologies to provide new interfaces with corporate 'legacy' data and information systems. Briefly, an intranet can be understood as "a private version of the Internet", or as a version of the internet confined to an organization.Intranets differ from "Extranets" in that the former is generally restricted to employees of the organization while extranets can generally be accessed by customers, suppliers, or other approved parties. There doesn't necessarily have to be any access from the organization's internal network to the internet itself. When such access is provided it is usually through a gateway with a firewall, along with user authentication, encryption of messages, and often make use of virtual private networks (VPNs). Through such devices and systems off-site employees can access company information, computing resources and internal communications. Increasingly, intranets are being used to deliver tools and applications, e.g., collaboration (to facilitate working in groups and teleconferencing) or sophisticated corporate directories, sales and CRM tools, project management etc., to advance productivity. Intranets are also being used as culture change platforms. For example, large numbers of employees discussing key issues in an online forums could lead to new ideas. Intranet traffic, like public-facing web site traffic, is better understood by using web metrics software to track overall activity, as well as through surveys of users. Intranet "User Experience", "Editorial", and "Technology" teams work together to produce in-house sites. Most commonly, intranets are owned by the communications, HR or CIO areas of large organizations, or some combination of the three. Advantages 1. Workforce productivity: Intranets can help employees to quickly find and view information and applications relevant to their roles and responsibilities. Via a simple-to-use web browser interface, users can access data held in any database the organization wants to make available, anytime and - subject to security provisions - from anywhere, increasing employees' ability to perform their jobs faster, more accurately, and with confidence that they have the right information. 2. Time: With intranets, organizations can make more information available to employees on a "pull" basis (ie: employees can link to relevant information at a time which suits them) rather than being deluged indiscriminately by emails. 3. Communication: Intranets can serve as powerful tools for communication within an organization, vertically and horizontally. 4. Web publishing allows 'cumbersome' corporate knowledge to be maintained and easily accessed throughout the company using hypermedia and Web technologies. Examples include: employee manuals, benefits documents, company policies, business standards, newsfeeds, and even training, can be accessed using common Internet standards (Acrobat files, Flash files, CGI applications). Because each business unit can update the online copy of a document, the most recent version is always available to employees using the intranet. 5. Business operations and management: Intranets are also being used as a platform for developing and deploying applications to support business operations and decisions across the internetworked enterprise. Disadvantages 1. Publication of information must be controlled to ensure only correct and appropriate information is provided in the intranet. 2. Appropriate security permissions must be in place to ensure there are no concerns over who accesses the intranet or abuse of the intranet by users. Planning and creating an intranet Most organizations devote considerable resources into the planning and implementation of their intranet as it is of strategic importance to the organization's success. Some of the planning would include topics such as: * What they hope to achieve from the intranet * Which person or department would "own" (take control of) the technology and the implementation * How and when existing systems would be phased out/replaced * How they intend to make the intranet secure * How they'll ensure to keep it within legislative and other constraints These are in addition to the hardware and software decisions (like Content Management Systems), participation issues (like good taste, harassment, confidentiality), and features to be supported . The actual implementation would include steps such as 1. Setting up a web server with the correct hardware and software. 2. Setting up web server access using a TCP/IP network. 3. Installing the user programs on all required computers. 4. Creating a homepage for the content to be hosted. Industry examples * KPMG moved all of its information assets to an intranet called KWorld. * “The success of Cisco Systems has been largely attributed to its innovative corporate intranet” * The People's Republic of China (PRC) is attempting to build a national intranet while limiting access to information forbidden by Chinese Internet regulations. If they are successful in their attempt, it will be the largest intranet. * Ford Motor Co has more than 175,000 employees in 950 locations worldwide, each of whom had access to the company’s intranet, called Myford.com. The intranet gave employees information about benefits, demographics, salary history, general company news and human resources forms. * The Australian National University uses an Intranet called Claromentis to maintain one of its external sites.