An intranet is a private computer network that uses Internet Protocol technologies to securely share any part of an organization's information or network operating system within that organization. The term is used in contrast to internet, a network between organizations, and instead refers to a network within an organization. Sometimes the term refers only to the organization's internal website, but may be a more extensive part of the organization's information technology infrastructure. It may host multiple private websites and constitute an important component and focal point of internal communication and collaboration.
An intranet is built from the same concepts and technologies used for the Internet, such as client–server computing and the Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP). Any of the well known Internet protocols may be found in an intranet, such as HTTP (web services), SMTP (e-mail), and FTP (file transfer). Internet technologies are often deployed to provide modern interfaces to legacy information systems hosting corporate data.
An intranet can be understood as a private analog of the Internet, or as a private extension of the Internet confined to an organization. The first intranet websites and home pages began to appear in organizations in 1990-1991. Although not officially noted, the term intranet first became common-place among early adopters, such as universities and technology corporations, in 1992.
Intranets are also contrasted with extranets. While intranets are generally restricted to employees of the organization, extranets may also be accessed by customers, suppliers, or other approved parties. Extranets extend a private network onto the Internet with special provisions for access, authorization, and authentication (AAA protocol).
Intranets may provide a gateway to the Internet by means of a network gateway with a firewall, shielding the intranet from unauthorized external access. The gateway often also implements user authentication, encryption of messages, and often virtual private network (VPN) connectivity for off-site employees to access company information, computing resources and internal communication...
Increasingly, intranets are being used to deliver tools and applications, e.g., collaboration (to facilitate working in groups and teleconferencing) or sophisticated corporate directories, sales and customer relationship management tools, project management etc., to advance productivity.
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