An intranet is a private network, operated by a large company or other organisation, which uses internet technologies, but is insulated from the global internet.
An extranet is an intranet that is accessible to some people from outside the company, or possibly shared by more than one organisation.
For decades, many organisations have used in-house networks to connect their computers and make applications available to their staff. These networks were often expensive and could be hard to use. When the internet became popular, its networking software became widely available and, usually, free. It therefore made sense for organisations to adopt the same software for internal use.
What intranets do
Intranets typically start by publishing web pages about company events, health and safety policies, and staff newsletters. Popular applications follow, such as forms to reclaim expenses or request holidays. All these help eliminate paperwork and speed up workflows.
As more features are added, an intranet can become essential to the operation of an organisation. It becomes a portal that provides access to all the things workers need.
The intranet is protected from the global internet by firewalls and by the need to log on with a secure password. Staff working outside the organisation may be able to access the intranet by using a VPN (virtual private network). This means all communications between the intranet and the user’s personal computer are encrypted.
What extranets do
Extranets take this process a step further, by providing access to people who work for different organisations. For example, a company could provide access to a supplier for online ordering, order tracking and inventory management. Instead of sending information to suppliers, it lets them fetch it on a self-service basis. Another example would be a hospital providing local GPs with access to a booking system so they can make appointments for their patients.
An extranet should be more efficient because everyone has access to the same data in the same format. Because all extranet communications can be encrypted over a VPN, it should also be more secure than sending data over the public internet.
The Internet connects millions of computer networks, from private, public, academic and business establishments, sharing information, resources and services. People all over the world use the Internet to access web pages, send emails, play online games, listen to audio files, watch videos and download data.
An Intranet network of computers is used primarily by companies and other private organizations. It behaves just like the Internet but the information shared, the pages, communication and other intranet features are contained within the intranet’s firewall, to prevent unauthorized access from external computer networks.
The Extranet is basically an intranet that allows access to external computers or computer networks. The type of access given to external computers in an extranet may have varying levels. Extranets are often used by businesses to give access to its costumers, suppliers, partners and vendors.