What are Intranets & Extranets?

As your business grows, your workforce expands and becomes more diverse. You may need additional offices or remotely-located sales people. Employees down the hall or across the country must collaborate and share the same applications and information.
Furthermore, as the volume of your business increases, you are under growing pressure to meet your customers? needs. To step up manufacturing or the processing of services, you require timely communications with your vendors and partners. You also may need to keep high-volume customers aware of new services, product pricing, scheduling and availability.

An increasingly common solution to support and streamline business-critical communications is to deploy intranet and extranet applications on your network. An intranet can streamline your internal operations onto a single company-wide infrastructure. You can improve business functions like sales, order taking, accounting and purchasing, enabling all employees, even those at remote sites or traveling, to access the same business information. You can post data like scheduling, administrative materials and company news and procedures, ensuring all workers of quick and easy access to them.

An extranet enables your suppliers, distributors or key customers to access critical information and submit orders or invoices online. You can streamline your supply chain and develop the long-term relationships that support growth. Whether you?re a brick and mortar company or a dot.com, an intranet and/or extranet can greatly facilitate your business processes, improve productivity and enhance profitability.

What is an intranet?

An intranet is a private Internet available only to you and your employees. More specifically, it is a private World Wide Web because an intranet relies on the same technologies and protocols as the Web itself. Employees access the company intranet with a standard Web browser such as Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet Explorer. Like the Web, an intranet is an easy-to-use communications and work environment that effectively delivers any kind of content and data, including voice and video. Employees can access this Web-like infrastructure for all of their company forms, resources and information. They even can collaborate in real-time, even though they may be thousands of miles apart, greatly facilitating workgroups and projects.

With an intranet, your employees can:

What is an extranet?

Whereas an intranet is a Web-like environment for your employees, an extranet expands the intranet to selected customers, suppliers, and business partners. By deploying secure user authentication and passwords, you enable them, and no one else, to access any information you provide on the extranet.

With an extranet, specified parties can access:

Company information?forms, product documentation, training schedules, etc.
Online catalogs with customer-specific pricing levels
Online order entry, order status, and shipping schedule look-up
Online support and customer service
New product and service announcements
Secure e-mail exchanges
Inventory levels for better raw materials management.
Both intranets and extranets support dynamic Web-based applications and can be modified as often as necessary, ensuring information is always current and timely.

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