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Intranets: Technical Issues and Business Applications

   by Debra Cameron

    Computer Technology Research Corporation
    01 September, 1996


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Editorial description(s):

From the Publisher
Computer Technology Research Corp. (CTR) is an internationally-recognized research and publishing company. Since 1979, CTR's reports have provided information on major technologies, trends, products, companies, and markets concerning the computer industry. Our reports assist executives, users, and vendors with making strategic decisions regarding information technology products and services.

Each CTR report includes management summaries, competitive analyses, technical product evaluations, vendor marketing strategies and case studies. CTR's reports are independently researched and present unbiased, objective views, strengths and limitations of products, and insight into technology directions. The reports provide managers with the vital quality information that is needed to successfully plan large- and small-scale information technology projects.

About the Author
Debra Cameron, an internationally recognized consultant, has been writing for and about the computer and Internet industry for more than 10 years. An Internet user since 1987, Cameron has written six full-length Internet reports, as well as a technical book published by O'Reilly & Associates. Cameron was the keynote speaker for the WebAware Ireland conference in April 1996. Her work has been featured in periodicals such as Communications Today, Irish Computing, and the European Business Report, and she received an award from the Society for Technical Communications. In addition to consulting, her professional background includes management support, training, course development, system administration, documentation, marketing, and software design. Her computer experience encompasses mainframe, midrange, UNIX, Macintosh, and PC platforms, as well as familiarity with a variety of programming languages and applications directly involved with the Internet.

Book Description
The use of intranets for sharing information and enhancing business communications is growing rapidly. With its multiplatform support and any-to-any client/server (C/S) architecture, intranets provide a single interface to company information. CTR's report provides critical resources information systems (IS) managers need to justify costs and implement intranets for their organizations.

Intranet Overview

The growth of intranets is staggering. Companies that sell Web servers and browsers find 70% to 90% of their sales are now intranet-related versus Internet-related. What is driving corporations to implement intranets? In some cases, intranets are developing through the efforts of interested users.

Intranets: Technical Issues and Business Applications examines the wide range of benefits intranets provide and the subsequent burgeoning intranet market, enabling the identification of trends in intranet growth.

The report also provides valuable Internet and intranet security resources, technical information about using Web technology, and ideas for intranet applications which provide solutions to business needs.

Key Intranet Technologies Examined

While the Internet provides communications with a global network, intranets provide an internal network for a company's employees and selected business partners. Intranets put Internet technologies to work within an organization.

Intranets: Technical Issues and Business Applications describes the role of key technologies such as transmission control protocol/Internet protocol (TCP/IP), Web clients and servers, hypertext transport protocol (HTTP), and a variety of protocols applied to intranet topology. The report explores the manner in which private intranets can be separate from -- and in fact invisible to -- the Internet at large.

Intranet Applications Explored

The most immediate application for intranets is the publishing of existing content online as an alternative to traditional printing methods. Cost savings can be realized overnight because with the right tools, users themselves maintain the information.

But publishing applications are merely the beginning for intranets. The standard and ubiquitous Web browser, can provide a single interface to a variety of strategic applications and databases.

Intranets: Technical Issues and Business Applications discusses more advanced interactive applications, including interfaces to legacy databases and legacy systems such as mainframes.

Sun's Java programming language and Microsoft's ActiveX are described, along with development toolkits for creating advanced applications.

As intranets grow, their content requires organization and indexing. The report explains how intranet search engines, performing in a similar manner to Internet search engines, can help users locate intranet-based resources.

Intranet Development Solutions

Which Web servers operate optimally on an intranet? Can shareware servers reduce costs while providing a quality solution? Should organizations standardize on particular browsers and servers across the enterprise?

As companies approach the problems of creating an intranet, vendors are lining up with solutions to help streamline the process. Some Internet vendors offer suites that streamline the process of creating an intranet, including sample applications. The report provides guidelines for evaluating these products and deciding which will provide the most value to the enterprise and is an invaluable resource for organizations needing to create an effective intranet development strategy.

Groupware Options

Can intranets replace traditional groupware such as Lotus Notes? Certainly they provide similar collaboration capabilities at far lower costs, but a surprising number of large companies using Notes have also developed intranets. Intranets: Technical Issues and Business Applications analyzes the ongoing debate concerning the impact intranets will have on Not es and the groupware market as a whole.

Security Concerns

When deciding to implement an intranet, the most serious concern that information systems (IS) managers face is establishing adequate security to protect proprietary company information. CTR's report reveals how organizations can implement Web technology internally while protecting their company resources. The report addresses important aspects of intranet security, such as firewalls, virus protection, internal security measures, and development of an enterprisewide security policy.

Intranet Implementation Strategies Intranets have low barriers to implementation, but how should an organization get started? Little information is available on the Internet itself to advise IS managers on the aspects of developing an intranet.

Intranets: Technical Issues and Business Applications discusses these implementation issues, including technical planning, staffing intranets, maintaining and expanding intranets, and training and support.

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