Intranet - Definition, What is it & Do you need it in Your Business?
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Intranet – Definition, What is it & Do you need it in Your Business?

many organizations have an intranet setup to communicate internally. An intranet is a computer network for sharing information, collaboration tools, operating systems, and other computer services within an organization, usually to the exclusion of outsiders.

Simply put, intranets are private networks that reside within a company and are used to securely share company information and computing resources among employees.

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Intranets can also be used to facilitate group work or through teleconferences. intranet should not be confused with the internet, as there are several key differences.

internet vs intranet

the main difference between the internet and the intranet is that anyone can access the internet from anywhere, it is a “public” network.

instead, only those who have an authenticated login and are connected to the required lan or vpn can access the intranet.

Other ways the two are different include:

  • the internet is a public network, while the intranet is a private network.
  • the intranet is more secure because it is private.
  • the internet can have unlimited users because it is public, while the intranet is limited only to those who have access.
  • information on the intranet is limited and can only be accessed by those with authorized access, while the internet has unlimited information available to everyone.

how does the intranet work

To have a secure and stable intranet, a web server is required to handle all requests for files hosted on the server. the web server is responsible for finding the requested file and delivering it to the appropriate computer.

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Ideally, a content management system (cms) should also be set up to control the creation, publication and management of content on the intranet.

Often, an intranet will consist of several interconnected local area networks (LANs), as well as leased lines on the wide area network (WAN).

an intranet uses tcp/ip, http, and other internet protocols (ip), and an intranet includes connections to the outside internet through one or more gateway computers.

For an employee to have access to the intranet, they must have a special network password and be connected to the lan.

If you have remote employees, they can connect remotely to the intranet through a virtual private network (vpn).

vpn allows remote employees to connect to the lan so they can log in and connect to the intranet.

To keep your intranet secure, firewall software is essential because it stands between the external internet and your private intranet.

The firewall is like a security guard that monitors all incoming and outgoing data packets to make sure there are no unauthorized users or suspicious requests.

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This protects your network against malware and other malicious attacks.

Some organizations want parts of the intranet to be accessible to customers, partners, vendors or other outside companies and this can be achieved by creating an extranet.

The extranet is an extension of the intranet and these additional people or organizations may have access to only a part of the intranet that is available to them through the extranet.

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yet another reason to have a firewall configured to detect any suspicious activity.

Intranet

advantages of the intranet

There are many benefits to having an intranet setup within your organization, including:

  • improved collaboration, information sharing, teamwork, and virtual capabilities within an organization.
  • low implementation and operational costs.
  • intranet can be used as a testing environment for new ideas before they are published on the company’s main internet web page.
  • provides human resources with the ability to manage employee records and assists representatives customer service to keep track of customer requests.
  • the intranet gives organizations the ability to use it as a social intranet to enable engagement and interaction, even for employees in different locations (virtual collaboration).

some intranet challenges

with anything, there can be challenges and here are a few:

  • the intranet is only beneficial if content, communications and documents are available. the intranet’s lack of users makes it essentially useless.
  • if management doesn’t use the intranet and if the content isn’t updated, users will lose interest.
  • many organizations have support limited for when software bugs or other issues arise because it costs money to hire support staff.
  • Intranets need to be updated and maintained with regular maintenance checks or else they become stale and irrelevant.
  • Lack of ownership of parts of intranet content makes it difficult to manage and keep up to date.

As you can see, the benefits of having an intranet system far outweigh the drawbacks.

As long as your intranet content is up-to-date, relevant and useful, it will be a key tool for your organization’s success.

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