Basics of Internets and Extranets
An intranet is a common term used to describe a private network or multiple networks of computers, typically within an organization like a business or a school. It is meant to be a secure communication tool between people or workgroups using a network infrastructure to share information between members of an organization. You may be familiar with intranets at your local college or office. Intranets usually allow for internet access but are typically firewalled to keep the network safe from outside threats and unsafe sites. Intranet applications can include websites, message boards, forums, email applications and much more. Though first used within larger corporations, the affordability of simple intranets now allows small companies, non-profits and academic organizations to provide access to a wide array of employees, students and key users. Examples include posting work schedules for employees or other internal news that is only accessible through a username and password. Once you start extending your intranet to outside parties through specific channels, then we are talking about extranets.
An extranet is essentially an extension of an intranet for outside people or organizations to access information. Common terms for extranets are web portals, which provide controlled access to privileged web pages. Odds are you have accessed many extranets yourself by logging into an e-commerce storefront to place an order.
If you are planning to develop an intranet or extranet, it is important to ask yourself specifically what you would like to do with that network. Here are some helpful questions to get you started.
*What private information do you feel would be relevant to your organizations employees, members or students?
*Are there outside applications that you would like to build into your intranet?
*Who will be accessing your intranet?
*What kind of kinds of data or information would you like your intranet to display?
*What kind of administrative tools do you or your employees need to manage intranet accounts, settings and more?
*Will you need private label portals, or extranet applications, built to support outside users?
Database development and APIs (application program interfaces) can also be incorporated to allow for a wide range of applications for your users. If you have ideas, and want to put them into action, feel free to ask the experts at Forix (www.forixusa.com) as intranet and extranet development are a daily activity. Another common application is private label portals. Many companies conducting business online frequently provide private label portals for many business products and services.
Let s assume we ran a uniform company and did much of our business with franchise restaurant chains. We could create a branded web portal (extranet) that might allow XYZ Company s franchisees to order shirts, hats and any other XYZ clothing we sold, which would only be accessible through login information provided by XYZ Company. Each franchise company could have exclusive access to online stores exclusive to them, dictated entirely by extranet management.