The Difference Between Extranets and Intranets

Microsoft SharePoint is interactive enterprise software that allows both Intranet and Extranet usage. The Intranet is a private network within an organization that isn’t connected to the public Internet. An Extranet is a similar type of private network that connects with another private network. It’s essentially a satellite to a hub controlled by a finite set of users with security protocols in place. While the Intranet implies exclusive online access within an organization, an Extranet implies that an outside group is allowed access to this network. Sharepoint provides a content management system that can be configured for integrating both types of networks.

The main benefit of an Intranet system is that an organization can operate without having a physical meeting in one place. This flexibility can potentially cut down on various costs, such as travel, lodging and electric bills, expecially if it is a global organization avoiding a costly meeting. An Intranet is also designed to create flexibility, so that in case someone misses an online meeting, the information can be archived, uploaded and explored at a later time. Another benefit is that an Intranet allows multiple members to communicate with each other and collaborate on projects. It can accelerate business and improve efficiency.

An Extranet offers similar benefits in the sense that it connects people in an organization with colleagues in ways that improve communication while maintaining privacy from the general public. An Extranet is useful for private webinars when one organization provides online training to another organization. An Extranet can also be useful for exchanging data or collaboration on a project between two entities.

The main disadvantages to both an Intranet and Extranet are cost and security. Custom networks can be expensive to design and implement, especially if it involves investing in hardware for robust dedicated servers. These private networks also require better-than-average security systems to protect proprietary information. Sharing company secrets within this environment requires extra measures to make sure every member is compliant with company policies on confidentiality. Even the most loyal employees have been known to leak information within the most controlled environments. While an Intranet will more likely ensure confidentiality, an Axtranet may introduce unknown strangers to the system.

Yet, SharePoint is an infrastructure platform that provides many useful business tools that can be shared by a network or a group of distinct networks. It allows businesses to store and share files, interact through their own social networks, build websites together or access multiple databases. It can also be used for teams to create software applications together as a group in real time. Many Fortune 500 companies use Sharepoint for these specific reasons. As elaborate as this platform is, it’s designed to be user-friendly, and doesn’t require a lot of technical training to understand.

The premium version of SharePoint has cloud computing capabilities. The platform’s functionality can be thought of as six elements: sites, communities, content, search, insights, and composities. Sites are work environments while communities are places where interaction occurs. Content is composed of documents and work-related elements. Search is the same as a search engine based on keywords. Insights provide access to information within a database while composites are building blocks for assembling business solutions.

Using the platform for an Intranet is a powerful solution that eliminates the need for big office complexes and is efficient for a modern computer-based business that connects virtual offices. Using the platform as an Extranet is also powerful when outsourcing or training is needed.