Thursday, December 7, 2006

Internal corporate access only

The chief distinction between the Intranet and the Internet is more one of semantics than actual technology: both use the same tools and techniques, protocols and products; drawing heavily on the standards of the TCP/IP world. In some cases, Intranet projects began as pilots or skunk-works efforts and have since been exposed for public view on the Internet as a major strategic computing effort. However, there are some differences between the two.

First, much corporate data is not for public consumption. Payroll, sales projections, internal discounts and client memos are all examples of information that corporations don't want broadcast over the Internet, and need to protect carefully, just as they have in the past with their IMS databases and ACF security programs. DEC's Intranet, for example, is accessible by its employees with the proper series of encryption and authentication routines.

Second, many Intranets begin with pilot projects to test out the technologies and understand the skill levels required. They quickly grew into full-time, production-quality information systems that have taken on a particularly corporation's culture and methods. Finally, many corporations want their private Intranets to have the same level of service as their existing SNA networks, and this is only possible when the networks are under complete corporate control from end to end.

One method for developing a corporate Intranet is to combine groupware applications with Internet technology. One such product is Attachmate's Open Mind, which makes use of Internet technologies such as HTML, TCP/IP, and Web browsing to augment the publishing, discussion, document management and general information sharing functions often wanted in a robust corporate Intranet. Version 2.0 of the product offers an integrated Web browser which allows users to permanently attach to and share information on external Web sites. Another example of this is Lotus' InterNotes products, which allow departments to track discussions and record conferences and other group collaborative efforts.