Saturday, January 20, 2007

Tracking the rise of the Intranet

The term Intranet is just now coming into common acceptance, although industry pundits have been writing about the idea since early 1995.

"Vendors say they are seeing substantial growth in corporate internets -- or intranets -- where groups ranging from individuals and product teams to corporate departments are posting web pages and installing telnet and ftp servers. This is becoming particularly true at Fortune 1000 companies.... In many cases, intranets have grown ... in ways that emulate the public, capital "I" Internet...." [Stephen Lawton, Digital News and Review, 4/24/95]

This article cites efforts at National Semiconductor and DEC to bring up libraries of information that are reachable by every desktop computer. According to the Business Research Group's report, Web Servers and the Rise of the Corporate "Intranet," DEC has over 400 internal web sites while Sun Microsystems has over 1,000. Interestingly, many of these servers were created outside of the traditional IS domain.

"Meta Group analyst Stan Lepeak estimates that three-quarters of the Web servers going up today are for internal corporate use," quoted in an editorial by Eric Lundquist in PC Week, 7/24/95. "Does the use of internal Web sites make sense in many applications? Yes. Are there still hurdles to be overcome? You bet. Should you seriously consider building your own internal Web? Absolutely." he says.

Quite an endorsement. Another analyst characterizes Intranets as "one of the great sleeper technologies," and that managing web-related content will quickly become part and parcel of future job descriptions for product line managers.

"Instead of paying service providers, businesses are installing their own servers to act as repositories for quick-changing executive information systems and as a resource for employees to peruse employee handbooks and technical articles," writes Jeanette Brown in Computer Reseller News, 8/14/95. She also mentions that the intent for these Intranets is to provide information on demand. One source in her story believes that "70 to 80 percent of web servers will be used for Intranet services."

Even one of the inventors of Ethernet has gotten the Intranet religion: "Suddenly I saw Web browsers as, yes, client/server middleware for Internet screen scraping. Multithreading and APIs are features of operating systems, and they bring us to this week's conceptual breakthrough: Web browsers are now viewed as a hot new application category.... Every [operating system] will have one,"says Bob Metcalfe in his Infoworld column, 2/27/95.

Indeed, the PC community is now fully-focused on the Intranet: within a week, Lotus, IBM, Novell, and Microsoft all announced major new products that were Intranet-related (PC Week, 10/2/95) and hundreds of vendors are preparing new Intranet product lines. Attachmate has been marketing Internet/Intranet products for the last year to large companies trying to build their own Intranets.