A network used within an organization to securely share information, applications and computing resources among employees. An Intranet software typically includes employee directories, newsfeeds, project management tools and other line-of-business applications. An intranet also allows third parties such as customers, vendors and partners to access the information and applications provided by an enterprise.
The Internet and Web technologies provide the underlying infrastructure for intranets. An intranet connects to the Internet via a Web server and uses the same networking protocols that drive the World Wide Web. Web servers host pages written in Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), which display text, graphics and images. Web-based email, search engines and push technology allow users to link to information housed on many different computer systems around the globe.
Modern intranet platforms take advantage of the social elements of the Web to encourage employee participation. They often resemble consumer apps, with an emphasis on user experience and the ability to customize features. They can also be optimized for remote work.
Whether an intranet is successful depends on how well it supports collaboration and communication. It’s also dependent on the channels that employees use to access it. Instant messaging channels such as Slack and Teams are great for real-time communication, but may not be the best way to announce important changes or have long conversations about topics that require a lot of background research.
For an intranet to be secure, it must have firewall software in place to screen incoming and outgoing data packets for malware and other security risks. A firewall also helps to ensure that a company’s internal communications remain private by restricting which systems can access the intranet and how much data can be transferred between them.
An intranet can be connected to a wide area network through a gateway computer, which provides access to the outside Internet. The wide area network may be a cable modem connection over a local area network, or leased T lines. A WAN often connects to one or more intranets and can have an unlimited number of users.