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What is an Intranet?

It is similar to the Internet, but it is much smaller and private....

To explain what is an intranet? You have to think of it like the Internet.

It is a collection of private computer networks within an organization. It is not public like the Internet where anyone is free to access it. An intranet sits behind a corporate firewall and is exclusive to that organization.

Not a LAN…

Unlike a local area network (LAN) where all the computers are in the same room or building, an Intranet lets the organization stay connected around the world. With the use of specially configured routers and firewalls, the organization’s network can be connected to the Internet and only allow access to users with the correct username and password.

An extranet is an extension of an organization’s intranet that is extended to users outside the organization. These users can be:

  • Partners
  • Vendors
  • Suppliers

Let’s say a company wants to allow access to their employees from home or another location away from the office. The company would set up a virtual private network (VPN) which would allow an employee to access the Intranet. Once a VPN connection is established, the employee’s computer has local access to the LAN.

Once on the LAN, the employee can work like if he/she was at the office and would have access to local resources like the file servers, printers and company documents.

What is an Intranet can also be explained by these benefits:

  • Employees and partners can access the network without physically being at the office
  • Ease of use for employees since they can access the Intranet with just a web browser
  • Sharing of documents and files is easier
  • Sensitive data can stay within the local network without being emailed
  • Users can access the Intranet through secure and encrypted authentication
  • Updated information is available to all users to view and share

Sharing without walking...

A companies intranet sometimes use internal web sites that can only be accessed by computers on that network. If you are on the Internet and out of the office, you won't have access to the internal web sites until you don't VPN to the Intranet of your company.

Companies usually use these internal websites to communicate with their employees about corporate news and company policies. These internal websites can also allow sharing of documents and files.

For example: you can publish a sensitive document on the intranet and only allow your boss to view it. He can then edit the document and publish it back so you can view it. This whole process just saved the company money on paper, toner and the time it would've taken you to walk to his office.

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