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Essay/Term paper: Intranets

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Information Technology

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Intranets


These days Intranets are becoming more and more popular throughout the business
world and other types of organizations. Many companies and organizations are
already making this change and many more are considering it. The advantages
offered by Intranets when compared to other types of networks are many, at a
reduced cost for the owner. Less maintenance, less programming and more
flexibility on the network platform make this change interesting. Unlike other
types of networks, Intranets allow different types of machines and operating
systems already at hand to be operating on the same network platform. This
reduces the cost when trying to implement this type of network because the
machines and operating systems already at hand can still be used throughout the
network without conflicting with one another. Quick access and easy programming
is also another consideration that is made when considering this type of network.

Intranets have just started to be implemented throughout the world and already a
big change is being noticed. Companies are keeping track of all of their
important information on web sites, which are restricted to users, unless they
have the security code to access them. Thanks to Internet technology, companies
and other types of organizations are able to keep all of their information
organized and easily accessible with a click of a button.

The Internet, how has it changed the world around us? Government, education,
business is all wrapping around it. Is this because of all of the information
on it, simplicity or is it the quickness, with a simple point and click and the
information appears on the screen.

The first intention of the Web, as it is referred to, was not to create a sea of
web servers and surfers. The Department of Defense created it for it's own use,
to keep contact with all of the locations throughout the world, making it easier
for them to retrieve and send information when desired. As businesses,
government and education discover the advantages of the Internet and web
technologies they are starting to implement it for internal use. This is better
known as an Intranet, which represents a new model for internal information
management, distribution and collaborative computing and offers a simplistic but
powerful implementation of client/server computing.

Intranets are private Web-based networks, usually within corporation firewalls,
that connect employees and business partners to vital corporate information.
Thousands of organizations are finding that Intranets can help empower their
employees through more timely and less costly information flow. They let
companies speed information and software to employees and business partners.
Intranets provide users with capabilities like looking up information, sending
and receiving e-mail, and searching directories. They make it easy to find any
piece of information or resources located on the network. Users can execute a
single query that results in an organized list of all matching information
across all servers throughout the enterprise and onto the Internet.

As recent as two years ago, Intranets didn't exist. Now the market for internal
web-servers is rapidly increasing. Intranet technology is beginning to be used
all over the world. Intranets present the information in the same way to every
computer. By doing this they are doing what computer and software makers have
been promising but never actually delivered. Computers, software, and databases
are pulled together into a single system that enables users to find information
wherever it resides. Intranets are only logically "internal" to an organization
but physically they can span the globe, as long as access is limited to a
defined community of interests.

Countless organizations are beginning to build Intranets, bringing Internet and
Web technologies to bear on internal organizational problems traditionally
addressed by proprietary data base groupware and workflow solutions. Two-thirds
of all large companies either have an internal web server installed of they are
considering installing one.

The organizations to use Internet technologies on the corporate network
generally move traditional paper-based information distribution on-line. Other
types of information that might be put on-line would be the following:
· competitive sales information
· human resources/employee benefits statements
· technical support/help desk applications
· financial
· company newsletters
· project management

These companies typically provide a corporate home page as a way for employees
to find their way around the corporate Intranet site. This page may have links
to internal financial information, marketing, manufacturing, human resources and
even non-business announcements. It may also have links to outside sites such
as client home pages or other sites of interests.
Both the Internet and Intranets, center around TCP/IP (Transmission
Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) applications. These applications are used
for the transport of information for both wide area and local area. Enterprise
networks nowadays are a mixture of many protocols. The most popular ones being
IPX, IP, SNA and many others. This is all beginning to change by replacing
these protocols with one typically being the IP Protocol. IP can handle both
LAN and WAN traffic, it is supported by the majority of computing platforms from
Macintoshes to Windows NT to the largest mainframe and on top of it all it is
the protocol used by the Internet. There are three types of protocols
considered under the TCP/IP applications. These are FTP (File Transfer
Protocol), SMTP (Simple Mail Transport Protocol) and HTTP (Hypertext Transport
Protocol). HTTP, or Hypertext Transport Protocol, is a newer Internet Protocol
designed expressly for the rapid distribution of hypertext documents. It uses
minimum network bandwidth, in addition, its simplicity makes it easier to design
and implement an HTML server or client browser.

Once a server is set up, almost everybody can create web pages. From
top managers to employees are all able to create web pages with the use of HTML,
which is the World Wide Web universal language format. Converting documents
into HTML format is getting easier and easier with the use of new programs that
do everything for one. This is considered another big advantage of using web
technology because fewer programmers are required to maintain it therefor
reducing the expenses of a company. Intranets allow the programmers to make one
copy of any information and run it anywhere, even across both client and server
platforms.

But why is this internal web so popular? There are typically three main
reasons. First, all internal webs contain text and non-text items, for example
recorded speech, graphics and even video clips. This allows the users to listen
to speeches, watch video clips and look at graphics ranging from pictures to
graphs, etc. Second, web sites can contain all types of information, depending
on the content, author and effort put in to them. Companies are able to make
pages referring to the employee's payroll, to company sales, client contracts,
and many others without limitation. Finally, each Intranet web server can be
cross-linked to others, by means of hypertext links, whether they are located
around the world or just down the street. It is the ability that gives the
Intranet its power, and its attraction to many corporations.

Intranets are easy to implement, unlike most other types of networks
Intranets don't require the replacement of all of the existing system, databases
and applications. They embrace the already existing infrastructure investments,
including desktop computers, servers, mainframes, databases, applications and
networks. Other types of networks would not allow an organization to have
different types of machines or operating systems on the same platform. For
example on a LAN or WAN network one would not be able to use Macintosh computers
on the same network as an IBM PC. These types of networks would also not allow
the users to use different operating systems on different computers, on the
other hand Intranets allow different types of machines and operating systems to
be used on the same platform.

Security is also a big factor on Intranets. Protecting information on a
private network is critical. Intranets security services provide ways for
resources to be protected against unauthorized users, for communications to be
encrypted and authenticated, and for the integrity of information to be verified.
Corporations can issue and manage a security key infrastructure to give their
employees the ability to conduct, company business securely across the network.

The full potential of Intranet technologies is far from being realized.
Over the next few years or so, Intranets will be enhanced with new services that
will make them the prime priority for any organization. Many companies and
organizations are already changing to Intranets, but as Intranets are becoming
more and more popular many more will convert their LANs and WANs to Intranets
because of all of the benefits they offer. Money is a big factor when deciding
the change from an already existing network but when considering Intranets this
usually expensive change is drastically reduced making it very interesting for
companies to consider.

Bibliography

Cortese, Amy. "Here Comes The Internet." Business Week
26 Feb. 1996: 3

Carr, Jim. "Intranets deliver Internet technology can offer cheap,
multiplatform access to corporate data on private networks."
Info World 19 Feb. 1996: 20

Strom, David. "Creating Private Intranets: Challenges and Prospects for IS"
Internet address: http://www.strom.com/pubwork/intranetp.html taken on Feb.
10, 1997: 1-8


 

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