Intranet applications change the way your company does business. When it comes to implementing them, you have a lot of options.
It was just a matter of time before the Internet explosion started giving birth to a whole new generation of buzz words. The latest is intranet. This new term describes an internal Internet--a network of computers that communicate using TCP/IP as the primary network protocol, FTP (File Transfer Protocol) for file exchange between dissimilar systems, simple mail transfer protocol (SMTP) for electronic mail delivery, and hyper text transport protocol and hyper text mark-up language (HTTP and HTML) for World Wide Web (WWW or Web) services. Even though several technologies make up the Internet, it's the Web that generates the most excitement and is the driving force behind the concept of intranets.
The Web is a graphical informational environment that makes the Internet accessible by pointing and clicking with a mouse. Users no longer have to know a series of cryptic command-line instructions to navigate and retrieve information. Now, documents formatted with HTML (a language that surrounds plain text with opening and closing tags that a web browser interprets as formatting instructions) lets users easily view and navigate a web of information.
The idea behind an intranet is to leverage Web technology to effectively communicate and distribute information within the corporate infrastructure. Sound familiar? It should because some people, including myself, see an intranet as a direct extension of the groupware/workflow application environment.
Opinions about what constitutes groupware and workflow differ. My view is that groupware includes applications that let groups communicate and coordinate their work. Group scheduling applications, online discussion groups, and resource sharing are a few examples. Workflow, on the other hand, is a little more elusive, but can be summed up as being an electronic version of a previously manual paper-passing process. An application that takes the place of the physical process of passing paper documents around for a series of approvals or reviews can be classified as a workflow application.
The major advantage of groupware/workflow applications is they're usually designed to be location independent. Information can be shared and distributed regardless of where you are. The idea of an intranet can take accessibility a step further by making information outside an organization equally accessible. Through the proper design and implementation of network firewalls and other security measures, sensitive corporate information can be kept inside the corporate walls, while letting outside …