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Intranets and

Extranets
Organizations that use Intranet/Extranet technologies are no
longer exclusively focused on monetary gain, but also on
intangible values - learning, employee productivity, and
collaboration between departments.

TreeWorks
Bvd. Coposu nr. 4
bl. 105 A sc. A ap.1
Bucuresti, Romania

Phone: +4021.326.06.02
Fax: +4021.326.72.33

www.tree.ro
office@tree.ro
Introduction _________________________________________________3
Content
Applications of Intranet _______________________________________3
Communications __________________________________________3
Collaboration _____________________________________________3
Knowledge Management ___________________________________3
Common Functional Applications ___________________________3

Intranet Tools __________________________________________________3


The Elements of the Web-based System ____________________3
Choosing a Browser _______________________________________3
Programming Languages ___________________________________3

The Rise of Extranets _________________________________________3

The Degree of Intranet Use within


Organizations, Divided by Locations _________________________3

Conclusions ____________________________________________________3
Introduction
The Internet is the largest information network in
the world. This system delivers a large amount of
services to homes, offices, and factories,
including text, video images, audio and music,
fax, e-mail, phone calls and others.

The widespread public and private The Intranet is a secure and internal
acceptance of the Internet and its implementation of the Internet. All Internet
underlying technologies paved the way for technologies, including the Internet
Intranets. Protocol (IP), the World Wide Web, and the
browsers, are protected by corporate
An Intranet is a network built within a firewalls. A firewall is a collection of
corporation, using the Internet and World computers, software, routers and services
Wide Web standards and software. The that enable the connection of a network to
Intranet is connected to the Internet and to other networks, while maintaining its
networks called Extranets that provide an security and integrity.
electronic connection to business partners.
Intranets are designed to be open and Intranets offer the most innovative, cost-
secure internal networks with web browsing effective way of freeing the corporate
software that provides easy point-and-click information from the inaccessibility of
access by end users on internal web sites. complex informational systems.

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Intranets allow people to work in the Some interesting information was published
manner that best fits their personality, in a recent study by Melcrum Publishing
style and work habits. Intranets offer users about companies from UK, North America
unprecedented freedom in obtaining and Europe (see figure 2 and 3).
information from the corporate date
repository. The first five most important benefits
brought by the Intranet to companies were
An Intranets provides the following benefits considered to be:
for corporate information access: - Better internal communication (90%);
• It is easy to learn and use; - Improvement of processes (80%);
• It is consistent; - Sharing best practices (72%;
• It is sophisticated; - Improved efficiency (65%);
• It is cross platform; - Reduced paperwork (65%).
• It is secure;
• It is standardized;
• It has a bright future;
• It is harvestable;
• It is not expensive;
• It is scalable.

65%
Reducing paperwork
65%
Improved efficienty
1st Qtr 73% Sharing best practices
80% Processes improvement
A better internal communication
90%

0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%

Figure 2 - The first 5 benefits of Intranet

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The main problems that the Intranet An Extranet uses the Internet/Intranet
addresses are: technology to serve an extended enterprise,
- Content management (74%); including customers, suppliers, partners,
- Lack of resources (52%); and other businesses that share a common
- Overloaded content (46%); goal.
- Security (45%);
- Control insufficiency (43%); An important feature of Extranets is that
- Navigation (browsing) (43%); they are typically behind firewalls,
- Internal politics (42%). therefore inaccessible to the general
public. Security is the main concern of their
infrastructure.

42% Internal politics


43% Navigation
43% Control inssuficienty
1st Qtr 45% Security
46% Overloaded content
52% Lack of resources
74% Content management

0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80%

Figure 3 - The main seven problems that the Intranet addresses

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Applications of Intranet
Intranets are important to the business world.
Business information is becoming a driving force
for corporate daily operations, decision-making
and strategic planning.

Thus the requirements for efficient communication, collaboration across space and time,
and effective knowledge management lead the development of Intranets.

Figure 4 - Applications of Intranets

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Communications
Intranets can significantly improve the a crucial component of winning-business
communication flow within an organization. competitions. Integration in a decentralized
Communications are important in organization depends on open standards
decentralized organizations and their and interoperable communications. Using
geographically-distributed branches. Also, an Intranet browser and PCs to send and
competitive pressures force organizations receive E-mail, voicemail, paging and faxes
to lower overhead costs, and also reduce can create an integrated communications
layers of middle management. This trend network.
makes efficient communications

Collaboration
To manage complexity at the workplace Intranet groupware such as discussion
effectively, corporations must bring experts groups, chat rooms, and audio- and video-
with specialized knowledge together to conferencing can be used to improve team
collaborate in creating solutions that are and project collaboration. Also, an
beyond individual contributions. A team can Intranet-based group-decision support
be defined as a collaborative workgroup system can facilitate the corporate group
whose members are committed to the decision-making process with the least
collaboration, and work with each other in overhead cost.
a cooperative way. Therefore, collaboration
is the key to make a group of people a
team, and also to make that team
successful.

Knowledge Management
Collaboration is a process of sharing Knowledge management attempts to make
knowledge and understanding, therefore of knowledge a recyclable, accessible, and
sharing creation. New knowledge can be expanding resource. A powerful
generated through corporate communications tool can facilitate the
communications and collaborations. generation of knowledge, and afterward
Therefore the goal of knowledge improve productivity. Intranets assist the
management is to convey this knowledge generation of knowledge, and also its
from one domain to another, as well as management inside the companies and
from one user to another. organizations.

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Common Functional Applications
A corporate home page is the center of the the current project information published
Intranet access. The home page consists of on its page. The finance department may
sections such as the message of the day, have its quarterly report or annual report,
the company's newsletter, financial and stockholders meeting schedules listed.
updates, Intranet links to various The sales department may list its current
departments, and Extranet links to sales records and customer information.
customers, suppliers, other company The production department may list its
locations, and Internet web sites. Every production schedule, quality management
employee is able to get access to this home program description and productivity
page for reading and/or downloading analysis. The human resources department
corporate data, important documents and may publish corporate employee manuals,
news. For example, the marketing travel policies, benefits programs, training
department may have the product programs and other regulations, forms and
information, the competitive analysis, and documentation.

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Intranet Tools
The selection of the most adequate and efficient
tools for the Intranet should be evaluated
according to the current corporate needs and to
the company's short-term and long-term goals.

Guengerich identified a 12-step program of Tools that are based on a flexible, modular
building the corporate Intranet that can architecture interface with other types of
apply to any company intending to build an technology, thus providing extensibility.
Intranet (see figure 5). Extensibility is the ability to adapt and
persist over time.
Five factors need to be evaluated during
the tools' selection process: performance, Portability is the tools' ability to operate on
time-to-market, extensibility, portability any platform. This is a basic characteristic
and scalability. of the Intranet.

Performance is the top priority for most Scalability is the ability of tools to
organizations. Performance is the product's accommodate a great number of requests in
ability to provide the required response an increasingly distributed environment.
within an acceptable time frame. There is a Other factors such as cost and vendor
corporate need to deliver products to preference are also evaluated.
customers within a particular time frame.
Any tools that can assist the launch of
corporate products on the Intranet are a
good choice.
12 Managing the Intranet
11 Implement Intranet policies and
10 Develop the applications
9 Implement the architecture
8 Finalize the plan
7 Complete registration and IP addressing
6 Decide on applications and prototype
5 Determine technical architecture
4 Address organizational issues
3 Enlist user support
2 Do we need help?
1 We should implement CMS!

Figure 5 - 12 steps of building a corporate Intranet

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The Elements of the Web-based System
A Web-based system consists of the The application layer contains the business
following ten layers: presentation, client processing services, which automatically
browser, network communications services, apply context to the raw data. The service
Web server, server application interface, interface layer abstracts an underlying data
application, service interface, service, repository, transaction system, or other
operating system services, and hardware. service from the actual application. The
service layer incorporates the underlying
The presentation layer appears as the services, e.g., DBMS (Database Management
application from the user's perspective. The System), e-mail, etc., that provide the
client's browser is the container for the process and data manifest in the Web
presentation, through which the user presentation layer. These services
manipulates the components. Mozilla represent both the new and the inherited
Firefox and Microsoft Internet Explorer are system components.
examples of browsers. The network
communications services layer contains all The operating system services layer
of the hardware, software, and underlying incorporates the file, print, and program
services that enable the browser to execution services, and extends across all
communicate with the Web server. of the computers throughout the system.
The hardware layer incorporates all of the
A Web server is a server that supports HTTP various client and server components. It
for the exchange of information with a also extends to all of the computers in the
client. system. Figure 6 illustrates the components
of an Intranet's Information Technology
Architecture (cf. O’Brian).

Figure 6 - Components of an Intranet's Information Technology Architecture

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Some large Intranet projects involve The application tool models explain how
multiple Web servers, database products the various tools relate to one another in a
and product upgrades to make development Web solution involving a database. They can
plans more complicated. The complexity of be classified into five categories: single-tool
the Intranet impacts the process of tool solution, application programming
selection. interfaces (API), database connectivity
tools, object tool and Web framework.

Choosing a Browser
The browsers are the most important • Usability - user interface metaphor,
components of an Intranet toolkit. They are online tools, and help facilities;
generally responsible for easing the use and • Vendor support.
the scalability of the current information
services. These are the general criteria for The user should evaluate the browser
choosing a browser: candidates and the personal needs for
• Performance; Intranet applications to set up the priorities
• Multimedia support - native sound or of browsers. Mozilla Firefox (MF) and
video, plug-ins; Internet Explorer (IE) are the two most
• Language support - HTML and Java; popular Internet browsers.

Programming Languages
Programming languages form the bridge use is to create applets that can be
that links all of the Intranet technologies included in Web applications. Applets are
and platforms. Programming languages can fully portable applications that are
be used to design software or tools to hardware independent, open operating
support various Intranet applications. There system tools used in a heterogeneous
are some commonly used programming Intranet environment.
languages: C#, PHP, Java, scripting
languages, JavaScript, VBScript (Visual Common Gateway Interface (CGI) scripting
Basic Scripting Addition). is the programming software used to move
data. The selection of a scripting language
Developed by Sun Microsystems, Java is an depends on the Intranet design and
object-oriented, multipurpose, multi- architecture. Commonly used scripting
platform development language that can be languages include C, C++, JavaScript,
compiled or interpreted. Its primary Microsoft VBScript and PERL.

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JavaScript is a scripting language used to PERL is a LINUX/UNIX based language used
bind HTML, applets and other Intranet for scanning information and extracting
components to each other. It can be used to data. It is a good solution for the
change images, play different sounds, and LINUX/UNIX based Intranet environment.
elicit responses from a multitude of events.

VBScript is a subset of Microsoft's Visual


Basic programming language. It is similar to
JavaScript as it creates active online
content on Web sites.

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The Rise of Extranets
The development of Intranet/Extranet took place
in three stages:

The first generation of Intranet Instead of looking downward toward lower


applications include: levels of the organization, the third
• Publishing corporate documents, generation of Intranet development looks
• Directory service, outward, toward supporting partnerships
• Simple groupware applications, with suppliers and customers. The Extranet
• Software distribution. uses many of the techniques of earlier
Intranet development, but with the
The first generation of Intranet applications improvements that allow for access to
have several benefits: outsiders. Unlike a website, which is open
• The ability to unlock information that is to almost anyone, an Extranet maintains
not currently available, controlled access for visitors.
• Reduced effort for sharing information,
• Less time and energy spent trying to In addition, an Intranet encourages personal
find and read information, and departmental Web page authoring.
• Reduced load of the network and server However, an Extranet requires some control
infrastructure, over the information that is made available,
even to authorized outsiders.
• Saving printing and distribution costs.
An Extranet lends itself to many of the
The second-generation Intranets look
same kinds of applications, similar to an
downward, toward the lower levels of the
Intranet. The main difference is that the
organization. They take another step and
communication is external, as well as
extend down to department- and
internal. Extranets can run a variety of
workgroup-level information sharing inside
applications, both packaged and custom
the organization. The second generation of
made. These applications include:
Intranet development has produced
applications that: • Order processing,
• Share information among members of • Joint projects,
project teams, • Communication,
• Share information within departments, • Customer service and support,
• Share information with other • Electronic mail,
departments. • Full access.

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The key components of an Extranet include: A full-service Extranet can be defined as a
• Universal TCP/IP deployment, network that combines the Transmission
• Web browser, Control and Internet protocols into the
• Web server, more familiar TCP/CCP (Communication
• Remote access server, Control Protocol). This network links an
• Client dial-in software, organization's employees, customers,
• Internet connection device, suppliers, and other business partners. This
• Leased-line connection, and is achieved in a way that makes all the
• Firewall security. parties involved more productive, the
information becomes more accessible, and
the navigation is also easier, through all the
resources and applications the organization
made available.

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The Degree of Intranet Use
within Organizations,
Divided by Locations
According to a study made by GVU Center, almost a third (31,13) of users claim the presence
of an Intranet within their organization, although 19,43% claimed that the question did not
apply to them. European users have a higher rate of using the Intranet (39,46%) than their
American peers (30,95%).

40.00%
35.00%
30.00%
25.00%
All
20.00%
USA
15.00% Europe
10.00%
5.00%
0.00%
No Yes Not applicable Don't know

Figure 7 - Use of the Intranet within organizations

All USA Europe


No 39,51% 39,97% 38,45%
Yes 31,13% 30,95% 39,46%
Not applicable 19,43% 19,22% 10,46%
Don't know 9,93% 9,86% 11,64%

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Conclusions
As we look at how corporate Intranets have
advanced in the last 10 years, we realize that this
renaissance can embrace a tangible gain just as its
counterpart, the Internet, has.

Organizations not only realize their From a software perspective, the web
monetary benefit, but they are paying more browser is becoming the single window to
attention to their immaterial values as access corporate informational items, and
well, such as learning, employee its incorporation into the current network
productivity and teamwork. infrastructure allows for inexpensive
integration.
While the Intranet design is on a much
slower evolutionary track than the Internet Corporations need to get to know their
design, the benefits mentioned above are employees better, and convey that
pushing the industry toward improvement knowledge in order to provide a better and
everyday. Whether they're incorporating an more informative Intranet experience. They
online collaboration tool, or building a should constantly and consistently build on
dynamic component for customer data what they have and also plan for a more
retrieval, Intranets are evolving to prove productive future. Most importantly, they
their worth. need to understand that while an Intranet
can be a valuable asset in promoting
While the cost of implementing an Intranet different applications of corporate
varies depending on the person developing communications, it is the communicators
the project, the industry agrees that on themselves that need to be addressed. As
average Intranet deployment definitely has they ensure that the suppliers of corporate
a higher return on investment and a shorter content have the tools necessary to
payback period than a comparable client- promote their information, in response
server application. their consumers will always return.

TreeWorks
Bvd. Coposu nr. 4 tel:+4021.326.06.02 www.tree.ro
bl. 105 A sc. A ap. 1 Fax:+4021.326.72.33 office@tree.ro
Bucuresti, Romania