Intranet, Internet, Extranet I’m confused!
The term intranet and internet are often confused because of the similarity in their name but they are significantly different as you will see below and both are designed to perform different but similar tasks. We all use the technology but never really understand it.In this short post we hope to show you the difference between internet and intranet and also add a third type of network into the mix, an extranet which not very many people will have heard of.
Hopefully this will help you better understand how networks work. So lets look at the one everyone knows about first (unless of course they have being living in a cave for the past 20 years or so) and that is the internet.
What is the internet
The internet as we all know is a publicly accessible network that we all use on a daily basis. Although the internet in a form has been around since the 1950s it was not until the 90s that the internet started to become the beast it is today.
We now use the internet for pretty much everything from shopping, news, movies, collecting our emails and communicating with friends and family and so much more. It has become such an important part of our lives and we rely on it so much it has been claimed by some that access to the internet is a human right (Although I do think there are more important rights people should be given first)
Access to the internet is provided by ISP’s (Internet service providers) who we pay a monthly fee to. The internet consists of a worldwide network of interconnected computer networks (hence the name world-wide web).
In essence the Internet is a network of networks. For example your home network is within a local network and that network is within your ISP’s network and so on. These networked computers exchange data using an internet protocol address (IP). Currently we use IPV4 but it is due to start changing over to IPV6 in the near future.
What is an Intranet
An intranet is a computer network that is private to the company that created it. For example you could set up an intranet in your home that had a website that was only accessible to people on your home network. An intranet is more likely to be found in a business so they can share data securely and quickly among their employees.
An intranet can be made to be accessible from the outside but it is designed to be a private space. Some of the places you are likely to find a larger intranet is in schools or large corporations. These types of places tend to have internal databases where they can store student/Employee information and can share data internally.
Most simple intranets also consist of an internal email system as well as a website and possibly shared documents. An intranet can be quite an investment which is why they are generally only used by larger corporations or corporations that need to share internal data between many users.
What is an Extranet
This is a network where people from outside an organisation can connect to a company’s internal intranet.
This is often used when external suppliers need to communicate with your databases or remote business offices need to be setup. Generally these kind of users require authentication in the form of usernames and passwords.
You may find these types of networks in companies that have users who work remotely. Both Extranets and Intranets do take some technical experience to maintain and secure.