Technical differences between intranet and Internet

In the first article on the differences between a company’s intranet and website, we addressed organizational questions and described how these systems differ conceptually. From a technical perspective as well, intranet and web projects must be approached differently to meet the various needs of the user groups.

Specialized systems for web and intranet.

By looking at the organizational differences between intranet and internet, it became clear that a system can hardly take advantage of overlap if it wants to fulfill the needs of employees and managers on one hand, and the requirements of interested parties and the public on the other.

The simple and pragmatic answer is having two specialized systems for the website and the intranet. The extranet is often established and implemented in a later instance and is usually technically similar to the intranet system.

Ensuring proper performance of the website and intranet

A central technical requirement for a website is that it performs for all German users and, in some cases, all international users. In order to guarantee this performance, the website server should be positioned in a large, well-connected data center. For instance, //SEIBERT/MEDIA's servers are only a few hops away from the central European DE-CIX data exchange. This guarantees excellent loading times.

To optimize intranet loading times, it is a good idea to put the server in a location where most employees can access it quickly.

In a company where most employees work at the main office, the main office’s network offers the best conditions. By contrast, if a company has numerous branch offices and/or a many mobile users, a server in a "private cloud" online is recommended.

Administration does not mean access to all contents

In the article on the organizational differences between company systems, I introduced the onion layer model metaphor.


Fig.: The intranet according to the onion layer model

For internal system administration, it is important for many companies to exclude administrators from this "onion." Just because someone administrates a system does not mean he should be automatically permitted to view and search all content. Good systems provide a complete separation between accessing content and technical administration of the system.

For example, //SEIBERT/MEDIA has developed a restricted-admin plugin for the Confluence firm wiki software. That’s how we can provide technical administration for customer systems without gaining access to the system’s content.


By looking at the different requirements for these systems, we see how conceptually and technically different intranet, extranet and websites really are:

Requirement Intranet Extranet Internet
Attractive presentation as main goal  little  some  very much
Interactive communication as main goal  very much  some  little
Transaction as main goal  some  very much  little
Rights-based access important for all users  very much  very much  little
Number of editors  almost all employees  only a few selected employees  only internal
Sequence control and workflows  very important  often important  not required because everything is public

Intranet, extranet and website are fundamentally different communication tools, but intranet and extranet are much more closely related to one another. Intranet and websites, on the other hand, demand separate conceptual approaches and have different technical requirements. The needs of employees working with internal tools are totally different than those of interested parties looking for information on a corporate website – and fulfilling these needs is decisive for the success or failure of the systems.

Internal and external corporate communication: We are your partner

Do you want to optimize your intranet? Are you evaluating tools that make your internal communication more effective and efficient and help you coordinate with customers and partners? Or are you looking for ways to better adapt your website to the requirements of your users?

We are experts for internal and external corporate communication and will be pleased to assist you however we can with our conceptual and technical expertise from numerous intranet and web projects. Feel free to contact us with no obligation!

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