by Andy Carroll, 10 Feb 2013
Some systems involve publishing protected information and resources for access only by designated individuals. These systems are often called "Intranets" or "Extranets". They may contain non-public information which is intended for employees, suppliers or specific customers. By assigning an account "role" and and individual password access, administrators can define who gets to see what files. For example roles may include "administrator", "marketing employee", "accounts employee", "supplier" and "customer". Each access account would belong to one or more role or group and each published file/resource would be assigned with roles that have access to the file/resource. Once configured the system can determine with file/resource should be made available to the visitor.
Intranets are usually located inside a company network and protected by the same access control as the machine itself. So intranets use the login credentials supplied when the system starts up and joins the network. To join an intranet remotely from outside the office virtual private networks are often used which creates a protected tunnel over the internet to the company network. Although the connection uses the internet the network is private and behaves the same as if the user is in the office environment.
Extranets by comparison are usually located on the world wide web. Access is controlled by username and password captured by login forms and stored in some form of session tracking. We use these systems widely, they appear in shopping carts, on-line banking and social media and present a personal view of information specific to our credentials.
The example provided in the image is a paid subscription based system which allows new costomers to register and subscribe. The site includes some open access pages for marketing the "Offer", login for exisiting subscribers and registration for new customers.
Once you recognise the opportunities of extranets you will understand how they can help your own business processes and provide a wide array of facilities that can be added to your website or on-line offerings.
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