A private network based on Internet protocols such as TCP/IP but designed for information within a company or an organization
· One of the key advantages of an intranet is the broad availability and use of software applications unique to the needs of a corporation.
· It is also a computer network and includes some of the same technologies as the Internet
· Intranet uses include providing access to software applications; document distribution; software distribution; access to databases; and training.
· An intranet is so named because it looks like a World Wide Web site and is based on the same technologies, yet is strictly internal and confidential to the organization and is not connected to the Internet.
· Some intranets also offer access to the Internet, but such connections are directed through a firewall that protects the internal network from the external Web
The architecture of Intranet can be conceived as an integration of the four basic elements – corporate information services, web server, communication links and Intranet users
Intranet offers information services like email, file management for secure communication and data transfer inside the organization. It also offers services like Network management which helps in optimizing and monitors the performance of the Network.
Intranet generally consists of internal corporate web servers made available to employees across the LAN. Using the corporate databases and other repositories of information and documents, these web servers bring diverse kinds of information to employees. A Web server is two things: hardware and software.
The hardware you use for an intranet Web server depends on the intranet's size, the content to be published and the number of people accessing the intranet at any given time.
The server software handles all requests for files hosted on the server, finds the file and sends it off to the right computer. E.g. Apache, Microsoft Internet Information Server.
In order to access the intranet the users must connect to the Server. The user computer can be connected to Server through organization's local area network (LAN) or Wide area network (WAN). Some intranets even provide internet services also.
It is nothing but the user interface to access the Intranet. An authorized person uses a common front end web browser to browse through the vast reservoir of information available within the company.
Need of Intranet
Although, the concept of Intranet draws heavily on the Internet technology, the need for Intranet arises more from the business pressures to transform the way business is conducted.
Some of the important factors responsible for the popularity of Intranet are listed below:
· Need to cut costs: The cost effectiveness is the mantra in the competitive world of today. Intranet attempts to streamline flow of information and is user directed. That saves on time and cost of communicating information.
· Dynamics of markets: Today, changes take place more rapidly in the market and company than ever before. Therefore, the information needs to be reported and exchanged more quickly among all those associated with the company, including employees, customers and vendors.
· Changing work environment: As the business and markets become scattered, employees have to be mobile and away from office. Thus, it becomes imperative for the workforce to use less expensive means of communication to remain in touch with the office.
· Customer support: The increasing role of customer support in the marketing strategy has changed the whole concept of communication in enterprises. A direct contact of the customer with the customer support department through Intranet directs the ‘job to specialist’ and ensures better handling of complaints.
Advantages of Intranet:
· Intranet is an easy, economical and fast system of communication within the enterprise. It offers opportunities to keep every concerned individual informed irrespective of the location. It also helps in reducing travel time as the communication between people in the business enterprise can be more frequent and less expensive, particularly when the persons desiring to communicate are located far away from each other.
· It serves information automatically and thus, one does have to face the contempt of not being aware of an important piece of information. Thus, demand for information is more frequent and detailed.
· Intranet permits inter employee communication with more transparency and free expression of views. It enables employees at various levels to pose problems/questions, participate in discussions and contribute answers to thorny problems of the company. The concept of collective expertise can be given a concrete shape with the help of Intranet.
· It improves productivity of the manager. With Intranet, the manager can spend more time in analyzing information and not in seeking information and waiting for its delivery.
· Intranet helps in eliminating the latency of information in the enterprise and makes the flow of information need-driven than availability-driven.
Types of Security Risks Encountered on an Intranet:
Intranet and Extranet security breaches can take a variety of forms. For example,
· An unauthorized person, such as a contractor or visitor, might gain access to a company’s computer system.
· An employee or supplier authorized to use the system for one purpose might use it for another. For example, an engineer might break into the HR database to obtain confidential salary information.
· Confidential information might be intercepted as it is being sent to an authorized user. For example, an intruder might attach a network sniffing device to the network. While sniffers are normally used for network diagnostics, they can also be used to intercept data coming over the wire.
· Users may share documents between geographically separated offices over the Internet or Extranet, or telecommuters accessing the corporate Intranet from their home computer can expose sensitive data as it is sent over the wire.
· Electronic mail can be intercepted in transit.
· Authentication—ensuring that entities sending messages, receiving messages, or accessing systems are who they say they are, and have the privilege to undertake such actions
· Privacy—enabling only the intended recipient to view an encrypted message
· Content Integrity—guaranteeing that messages have not been altered by another party since they were sent
· Non-Repudiation—establishing the source of a message so that the sender cannot later claim that they did not send the message
· Ease of use—ensuring that security systems can be consistently and thoroughly implemented for a wide variety of applications without unduly restricting the ability of individuals or organizations to go about their daily business
Organizations must not only develop sound security measures, they must also find a way to ensure consistent compliance with them. If users find security measures cumbersome and time consuming to use, they are likely to find ways to circumvent them— thereby putting your Intranet and Extranet at risk
Intranet as Business Tool
Intranets add bottom line value to an organization. The primary purpose of an intranet is to help employees do their jobs more effectively. But the following are some key business drivers with an effective organizational intranet.
· Business Processes: A business process can be defined as a set of related, structured activities or tasks that produce a specific service or product for a particular customer or customers. It often can be visualized with a flowchart as a sequence of activities. Intranets can directly assist staff complete business processes in three ways:
» By providing instructions for how and when to do things
» By enabling the completion of a task through web based forms and workflow.
» By providing a portal to applications/websites required to complete a process
· Knowledge Management: Knowledge Management is an approach used in organizations to identify, create, distribute and enable adoption of insights and experiences. Knowledge can be comprised of documents like proposals, project plans, strategy papers etc., Management of these document types can be done through an organization's intranet by developing an information architecture that allows employees to save and tag their documents in a way that then enables other employees to find them when they need them.
· Collaboration: Collaboration is where two or more people or organizations work together to achieve common goals by sharing knowledge, learning and building consensus. Intranets and extranets can help facilitate collaboration in 4 ways:
» An effective staff directory that allows employees to know who to contact about what
» Electronic communication tools such as Wikis and blogs
» Electronic conferencing tools such as discussion forums and video conferencing
» Collaborative management tools such as calendars, online project management systems, and online spreadsheets
· Change Management: An intranet can be a significant tool in implementing change management. It can provide the primary communication and training channel to keep employees up-to-date with new changes. The collaborative nature of intranets enables the project team to work more effectively together and to obtain ongoing feedback from end users.
· Portal to data and applications: Many organizations have structured data (ie. customer details) and applications that are not fully utilized. The intranet is able to act as a portal to this data and applications by providing a meaningful context that drives end users to the correct data or application.
Future of Intranet:
Intranet technology is in its initial stages more improvements in terms of presentation and retrieval of data have to come. Issues like Bandwidth, addressing, security, mobility, and quality of service have to be solved. Intranet has to advance in the following key areas
· Advances in Information presentation:
Now-a-days finding information is very easy. The technology helps us to find surplus of information but main problem occurs in sorting out the data. Effective presentation of information is required so that correct information is presented to the end-user.
· Advances in Information retrieval
Intranet has to provide various tools for information like Intelligent Search Engines, Intelligent Browsers which can understand natural language and provide information basing on user interests.
· Virtual Organizations
Organizations must be distributed and meet on-line to help gather, retrieve, and share relevant knowledge. This helps rapid development in Organization.
· Advances in routing Technology
Intranet must allocate bandwidth for various applications and must provide large address space (like IPV6) and employ High- speed routers to provide quality of services like Video conferencing etc.,
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