Intranets and Extranets in e-Business


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The tools of the Internet are not just for external use. It is relatively
easy for us to take the architecture of the "big" Internet and scale it to
use in an internal environment. The following items will allow you to
create your own "internal Internet:"

TCP/IP network
Electronic mail
Server
Browser or client software application
Chat
FTP

This is the essential shopping list of what is needed to create an
intranet. An intranet is your own organization's Internet. Here you
have all the advantages of the Internet but customized to your own
internal requirements.

Intranets have advantages over forms of groupware and once
communication systems that theey co-exist with. These include:

~ browser-based (everyone can be a user)
~ people-friendly
~ easier to develop (than previous generation systems)
~ easy to change
~ lower cost than traditional development alternatives
~ very high payback
~ based on standards that every one should support
~ easier to update
~ easily customized
~ perform well
~ scale better than most applications

The development of an intranet has become a major component of
many organizations' e-business strategy, intranet systems evolve from
many starting points. These run the gamut from strategic initiatives with
enterprise support, to development at the departmental level, to some
that have been opportunistic, based on speed and cost constraints.
Whatever the reasons, intranets have established themselves at the
core of many IT strategies. Even organizations that have resisted the
gravitational pull of the technology, are adopting intranet strategies.

In the beginning, intranets were either situated in data centers or
out in the departmental computing locations. In recent years, intranets
within organizations have become very common and have expanded
dramatically. This has treated a need to integrate content, maintain performance, share information, control access, and deal with intranets
in differing locations. Multiple intranet servers, connected by local and
wide area networks, provide the foundation for distributed intranets.
Many of these systems are now linked to a portal strategy for the
organization.
Today most organizations have moved away from the view that
intranets are a separate component of their IT strategy. Intranets
are a flexible way of organizing information where the content can be
shared with others in a controlled and expandable way. This philosophy
provides the foundation for the development of distributed intranets.
In addition, as intranets become richer in content, and this content is
extended to partners and customers, more extranets are born. From the
architectural point of view, the extranet is merely a protected section
of the intranet.
Many firms develop intranets to improve productivity and increasing
the speed with which information is delivered inside their organizations. In environments that have a great need to provide accurate
information in more timely and distributed ways. the intranet and its
natural ability, to expand has made it the technology choice of many,
Intranets often provide the basis for the delivery of information that is
needed by internal staff.
This evolution is not limited to pure intranet solutions, it also
includes groupware, office, and workgroup applications that either are
or will become Internet-based. Microsoft's .net strategy is a typical
example of this move. These solutions are becoming more intranet-
based, with browser based interfaces, compatible with Web servers
and supportive of Web standards. However the underlying databases
and data structures vary according to application and platform focus.
The extranet therefore becomes the key external part of e-Business
strategy, the component of your computing systems that will communicate with your business partners and clients. Companies can achieve
dramatic reduction of timeframes and costs can be achieved with a
careful combination of Internet, intranet and extranet programs.

Software firms provide the ingredients for tm to develop Internets,
intranets and extranets. In the development of Internet technology, you will hear much about differing types of architecture, and how one is
superior to the other. Software categorization for the Web can be very
confusing for both the novice and the expert. Much of this caused by
a very fast moving marketplace, and considerable vapor flying around
in the marketing materials.

 

 
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