An intranet is a private computer network that uses Internet protocols and network connectivity to securely share any part of an organization's information or operational systems with its employees. Sometimes the term refers only to the organization's internal website, but often it is a more extensive part of the organization's computer infrastructure and private websites are an important component and focal point of internal communication and collaboration.

An intranet is built from the same concepts and technologies used for the Internet, such as clients and servers running on the Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP). Any of the well known Internet protocols may be found in an intranet, such as HTTP (web services), SMTP (e-mail), and FTP (file transfer). There is often an attempt to employ Internet technologies to provide modern interfaces to legacy information systems hosting corporate data.

An intranet can be understood as a private version of the Internet, or as a private extension of the Internet confined to an organization. The term first appeared in print on April 19, 1995, in "Digital News & Review" in an article authored by technical editor Stephen Lawton. [Stephen Lawton's "Digital News & Review" article "Intranets Fuel Growth of Internet Access Tools." [] ]

Intranet-Site content is almost always private and requires authorization for each web viewer, provided either through specific user authentication or by default, based on the location of the viewer's computer on the private network.

Intranets differ from "extranets" in that the former are generally restricted to employees of the organization while extranets may also be accessed by customers, suppliers, or other approved parties. [Callaghan, J. (2002), "Inside Intranets & Extranets: Knowledge Management AND the Struggle for Power", Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 0-333-98743-8] Extranets extend a private network onto the Internet with special provisions for access, authorization and authentication (see also AAA protocol).

An organization's intranet does not necessarily have to provide access to the Internet. When such access is provided it is usually through a network gateway with a firewall, shielding the intranet from unauthorized external access. The gateway often also implements user authentication, encryption of messages, and often virtual private network (VPN) connectivity for off-site employees to 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 Customer relationship management tools, project management etc., to advance productivity.

Intranets are also being used as corporate culture-change platforms. For example, large numbers of employees discussing key issues in an intranet forum application could lead to new ideas in management, productivity, quality, and other corporate issues.

In large intranets, website traffic is often similar to public website traffic and can be better understood by using web metrics software to track overall activity. User surveys also improve intranet website effectiveness.

Intranet user-experience, editorial, and technology teams work together to produce in-house sites. Most commonly, intranets are managed by the communications, HR or CIO departments of large organizations, or some combination of these.

Because of the scope and variety of content and the number of system interfaces, intranets of many organizations are much more complex than their respective public websites. Intranets and their use are growing rapidly. According to the Intranet design annual 2007 from Nielsen Norman Group, the number of pages on participants' intranets averaged 200,000 over the years 2001 to 2003 and has grown to an average of 6 million pages over 2005–2007. [Pernice Coyne, Kara; Schwartz, Mathew; Nielsen, Jakob (2007), "Intranet Design Annual 2007", Nielsen Norman Group]

Benefits of intranets

#Workforce productivity: Intranets can help users to locate and view information faster and use applications relevant to their roles and responsibilities. With the help of a 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 within the company workstations, increasing employees' ability to perform their jobs faster, more accurately, and with confidence that they have the right information. It also helps to improve the services provided to the users.
#Time: With intranets, organizations can make more information available to employees on a "pull" basis (i.e., employees can link to relevant information at a time which suits them) rather than being deluged indiscriminately by emails.
#Communication: Intranets can serve as powerful tools for communication within an organization, vertically and horizontally. From a communications standpoint, intranets are useful to communicate strategic initiatives that have a global reach throughout the organization. The type of information that can easily be conveyed is the purpose of the initiative and what the initiative is aiming to achieve, who is driving the initiative, results achieved to date, and who to speak to for more information. By providing this information on the intranet, staff have the opportunity to keep up-to-date with the strategic focus of the organization.
#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.
#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.
#Cost-effective: Users can view information and data via web-browser rather than maintaining physical documents such as procedure manuals, internal phone list and requisition forms.
#Promote common corporate culture: Every user is viewing the same information within the Intranet.
#Enhance Collaboration: With information easily accessible by all authorised users, teamwork is enabled.
#Cross-platform Capability: Standards-compliant web browsers are available for Windows, Mac, and UNIX.

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:
* The purpose and goals the intranet
* Persons or departments responsible for implementation and management
* Implementation schedules and phase-out of existing systems
* Defining and implementing security of the intranet
* How they'll ensure to keep it within legal boundaries and other constraints
* Level of interactivity (eg wikis, on-line forms) desired.
* Is the input of new data and updating of existing data to be centrally controlled or devolved.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 [University of South Carolina [ Making the most of inhouse communications] ] .

The actual implementation would include steps such as
# User involvement to identify users' information needs.
# Setting up web server(s) with the appropriate hardware and software.
# Setting up web server access using a TCP/IP network.
# Installing required user applications on computers.
# Creation of document framework for the content to be hosted. [ [ Intranet: Table of Contents | Macmillan Computer Sciences: Internet and Beyond ] ]
# User involvement in testing and promoting use of intranet.

ee also

*Enterprise portal
*Local Area Network
*Wide Area Network
*Web portal


External links


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Look at other dictionaries:

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