What are intranets, extranets and cloud applications?
An intranet is an internal business website. It’s like a mini-internet (or private network) that is only accessible to people within your organisation. They are generally used to publish and share information between employees, teams, departments, and so on, facilitating easier and more effective communication. Some of the most common platforms used for intranets are Microsoft SharePoint, DotNetNuke and, increasingly Umbraco. At present, there is a great demand within organisations to move beyond old fashioned static content intranets and toward a new breed of social intranet that actively helps promote collaborative working practices between colleagues and teams.
Regardless of the size of a company, intranets have revolutionised how companies and businesses operate over the past decade or so. It’s widely acknowledged that a well-designed intranet can inspire employees, improve productivity and strengthen engagement within a business.
Extranets are also private networks, but as the name suggests, they are externally facing. They provide businesses with superior communication abilities with external parties, including suppliers, partners and customers. Typically, extranets are cloud-based applications, enabling businesses to connect their customers and partners directly to their business processes. For example, clients might be able to log in and view their account, outstanding invoices, orders received, that kind of thing.
Cloud-based applications simply means the application is hosted online on the internet (or the ‘cloud’), rather than in a physical location. This means it can be accessed anywhere from any device, whether it be a laptop, tablet or smart phone. Users of cloud-based software are usually charged a fee, or subscription, to use the service, but because the software is located in the cloud they don’t have to worry about downloading updates or maintaining the software. It is all done automatically in the cloud.
Why do we need extranets, intranets and cloud-based applications?
These services provide businesses and companies with the framework and tools to improve the way they operate, manage and grow their businesses in the digital environment.
This is a major factor in gaining a competitive advantage. Intranets provide businesses with effective internal communications in real time and facilitate collaborative internal working environments. Similarly, extranets enable quicker, more immediate and more effective communication with clients, customers and stakeholders.
Cloud-based applications, too, allow organisations to improve their efficiency by removing the need to rely on and maintain bulky, complex software packages, databases and IT infrastructure in house. Instead, the same services and functionality can be carried out via the cloud.
Cloud-based services are also incredibly security-aware. These applications provide automatic backups, disaster recovery facilitates and extensive firewalls, to ensure your data is secure and easily accessible when and wherever you require it.
What is Blueprint’s expertise in this area?
We are highly experienced in building and implementing intranets, extranets and cloud-based applications, ensuring they are fast, scalable and, most importantly, secure. Our expertise encompasses clients of all sizes and in all sectors, from start-up businesses to international corporations.
Our team are masters at planning and overseeing cloud migrations - the process where data is moved from a local computer or digital storage facility, onto a cloud-based application. Thorough planning and flexible but robust project leadership skills are essential, while our experience of managing migrations on behalf of clients has equipped us with the expertise to provide seamless migrations and minimal risk.
Because we are totally independent, we will not recommend a specific service or solution until we understand your specific objectives and priorities. This approach enables us to build and implement a solution which meets your unique requirements and has been shaped to meet your organisation’s particular priorities.