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Intranet: a system for managing information —

Background

The intranet phenomenon arises from the successful experience of World Wide Web in the Internet world. In fact, it is a projection into what organizations have placed at the disposal of the virtual community that uses the Internet and have seen the benefits of having a single interface for performing their daily administrative processes.

The first experience of Intranet that news has emerged in 1992 when engineers Sun MicroSystems see the use of the Web a valid alternative to support the management of their administrative processes. Subsequently, Netscape ventures to investigate how useful it can be to use your product Navigator as a common interface for accessing different types of information from a company, which starts promoting this new orientation of the Web, and is accepted by managers of information systems organizations USA.

Initially there was the idea of the benefits of an intranet, but not the tools to develop products that enable launch this new scheme of doing things within companies. Several software companies took an important step towards the development of systems for Workgroups; Lotus Notes with your product, in 1995, placed fashionable concept Groupware and perceived in the Web a more impartial and standard environment on which to develop their products. Moreover, Microsoft recognizes its strategic mistake by not prioritize within their development plans the importance of Internet and the potential it offers, so that changes its strategy and complements its products to work “natural” way on this network. Finally Novell Netware adapt their product to work more efficiently in this line.This situation, which involved three large software companies (IBM-Lotus, Microsoft and Novell) give a clear signal to other similar companies to develop products and oriented Web services, but especially intranet way.

At present, the creation of products for intranet occupies a high percentage of resources for research and development of software companies. Companies linked to hardware, have also enhanced their products to work or support Internet and intranet applications. Moreover, it is assumed that half of what is now developing in Web environment is oriented intranet.

The current trend on this topic is the development of intranets using programming languages ​​that allow extending the use of HTML. We refer to the Java and ActiveX and C ++ languages, which are making a progressive degree of acceptance in the software industry and especially with databases and compatibility of different operating systems. All this means be careful when defining what an intranet.
Definition

Technical Vision

A definition technical approach, argues that “intranet is a set of Web sites that are installed on the internal network of an institution or company and that display data or documents to any of the computers connected to it” (Ryan Bernard, 1996) .

That is, a computer with server class websites within the company, and home information you can use only one who is defined as a valid user of the intranet.

This definition is still valid, is very similar to what we mean by LAN or WAN, only substituting the term “Website” by “Server”.

The difference lies in the use of a common interface that is independent of the computer from which the user connects to the server, using either a WhatsApp on PC, One Workstation or Macintosh.The interface is the same and the user can obtain or enter information in the same way. In fact, this interface is an interpretation software developed for each operating system that brings users the information organized using a standardized as HTML, Java or ActiveX, without being mutually exclusive language.

The communication between the teams, independent of platform, is performed on a standard communications protocol such as TCP / IP or different, provided that all computers that are communicated to the intranet using the same protocol.

The concept of intranet also considered a functional vision.
Functional Vision

A definition from the functional point of view, argues that intranet is a system for managing information, developed primarily on the potential of the world World Wide Web, and is limited to the institution or company that creates or who she authorizes access .

Under this conception, the intranet is not only developed for those working within the company, but also for those who use information services company produces and makes available to the external user. The information is kept within the institution; those who work in it, generate or obtain data for their daily work, but customers can access certain authorized.

There are banks that have websites from where you can get the statement in his capacity as a customer. Customer information is to guard; only authorized personnel can access your data, but also the customer can find information of interest using a password provided by the financial institution. The client uses intranet resources, but does not participate in either the generation or management of such information, however, is part of it. In fact, it may grant the customer attributes to modify simple information such as your address, phone or fax, which he also participates in the process of generating information on the intranet.

We conclude that to establish an intranet, functional considerations are as important as technical and ultimately, the techniques are conditioned to the functional requirements defined by the organization. This is because the design of an intranet not only considers the use of certain technology available on the market, but also re-think the generation and management of information resources.

Like any rethinking of the process, the first question is why. That is why an intranet within an institution or company is required.

Why use intranet

Using an intranet or rather creating, involves rethinking things that the company is doing and see the benefit of implementing a new scheme.

Agglutinate access to Information

An intranet can bind information generated by different departments or sections of the organization. This implies the ability to query for data that may be located on different sources of information that the company owns.

For example, if the company is a multi-shop and the seller wants to know if a product is in stock, the intranet can not only provide information of stock in warehouse. You can also give:

* The situation of other branches cellar
* date of next installment of the central warehouse
* arrival date next shipment from customs with the requested product
* product with similar characteristics to the requested
* offer price assigned to the product

Each data could be in different databases on different host computers, and even located in different cities or countries.

We then see the advantage of bringing together information about the possibility of centralizing. By centralizing all the data is stored on a machine with a path. If the machine or the path fail at that time, the seller does not know the stock and eventually lose the sale. In addition, the centralization requires the progressive growth of the mainframe and sustained monetary investment to maintain efficient. It is true that there may be more than one computer with some data and make them converge on the screen transparently seller, but this requires having, most often, the same type of equipment with the same type of base data to achieve a good result.

The distribution of data on different machines can only invest heavily in those with high demand information, have different types of servers and operating systems with different databases at different prices, and achieve get all the data necessary Screen seller. In fact, many intranets installed today, have developed a set of routines that allow you to see existing databases in the company avoiding redo everything again. This is one of the most significant advantages, however it has to invest in programming for effective blocking of data writing

Identifying information flows

Using an intranet helps identify who creates and who uses the information handled by the company. Companies know who produces useful management information. They are rarely able to identify the person responsible for the quality and reliability of the data. On the other hand, customer complaints are always vague when defining which part of the service that the company offers not work;for him, it just gives you a disservice.

The use of intranet, allowing a concentrated and organized information flows vision, limiting user requirements. That is, determine the range of action of each user group about what, how, when, from where and on what can participate in the intranet. With this definition of responsibilities, the manager of the company will be able to know what happens in terms of information flow and effectively support those processes that are weak.

Economy the company

Companies that support management in computer systems, are aware of the importance and cost of the train staff in the use of computer applications for production and control of their products and / or services. This is of vital importance in administrative and management processes in which staff usually use different programs with different commands to achieve its functions.

Using an intranet economy allows training of personnel when it is able to offer a standardized interface that incorporates and approves the majority of computer applications required for the management of the company. This reduces the number of people who need to be proficient in handling various programs and applications. Similarly, reducing the cost of acquiring licenses for applications affected by the intranet.

Meanwhile, stationery costs in the production and distribution of instructions and documents necessary for the management, are only comparable to the resources allocated by the same company in stationery for the promotion of their products or services

Production of administrative paperwork is reduced with the use of the intranet because the use of the network to consult or communicate instructions necessary for daily work is encouraged. As a private network, distributed releases have clearly identified the recipient and sender. Despite this, it is true that this point will depend on the change of mentality that is taken with respect to use electronic format over traditional paper.

There is also a saving in equipment configuration, because the program is installed to access the intranet is usually one and applications support (read plugins, applet, Java or ActiveX routines) are installed once and are automatically downloaded the computer. In fact, the problems that exist are reduced to few alternatives, which are learned and properly handled by the support unit owned by the company or you hire.

Update information

The updating of information is another reason why intranets are adopted in organizations. Using an interface that allows members of the company generate and view information in real time, gives credibility to the administrative process and management of the institution. This also allows a corporate image to the client, because he perceives that data with which the interlocutor of the company works, are current and therefore reliable.

Improve Human Resource Management

Who manages staff knows that achieving their goals are the result of agreements acquired with their subordinates. That is, agree with them to achieve certain objectives specified period of time, which naturally depend on certain variables which are responsible for themselves and other people who work in the company or have a relationship with her.

As there is a rapid updating of the data, the administrator can better manage their human resources that can monitor what the employee of the company is doing to achieve agreements defined. Also the worker can better manage your time because you have a real idea of ​​the progress of the variables that affect it and with it the opportunity to make the most of them.

Strengthen communication

The previous point leads to strengthening communication within the company because the information is systematized and flows. Specify who, how and when appropriate, not depending on subjectivities but the privileges that the user of the intranet has about her. These privileges are the result of pre-defined borders heads or managers of the company.

Strengthening those Working Groups

Groups exist in the organization of formal and informal job to perform their tasks. The former are easy to identify, as they are generally linked to the organizational structure of the company. The latter are more complex because what people are associated for a common benefit with information that can generate or receive from another member of this group. Generally there is no formal relationship because the organizational structure of the company is greatly complicate trying to formalize these relationships. So then, arise on the basis of decisions taken by the own initiative of those who comprise it.

The intranet allows not only promote and strengthen relations within the Formal groups, but also to systematize and strengthen informal interactions because it offers the possibility to combine efforts to provide useful information to members of the company even if they belong to the department or section where such information was generated.

Returning to the example of the multi-shop, the seller can benefit from clumping data on the screen with information coming from different databases from different departments of the company. If the offer installment sale is not attractive to customers, he can inform finance people who can see another way to create a credit.

This information hardly flows through formal channels, as it is supposed to function seller is just selling a product and not report the acceptance of prices; This data is provided by the seller to a member of his informal group who can speak to your formal group on the issue.

We can deduce that the intranet, to systematize information flows, enables and strengthens the participation and effective interaction of Formal Groups and therefore streamlines business processes.

These were some reasons why it is useful to develop an intranet, let us see who benefits from this way of working.

Who benefits intranet

An intranet:

· Benefits to the company by optimizing its human and material resources to save time and money on training, support or technical support and periodic acquisition of software and hardware. It also allows redirect the processes that generate information and products to work considering the interests of each part of the business and not just their own.

· Benefits to the customer with timely and relevant information, the result of the constant updating of the data with the company works and the convergence of these data through a single interface, although coming from different sources.

· Benefits to people who work in the company, because it allows them to have timely and reliable information they need for their work and have certainty that the information generated helps others within the organization. In short, it feels participant and committed to the process.

Platforms and security features

As we saw in the previous section, the new concept of power intranet area running a business leveraging the capabilities of computer infrastructure and network connections she has or acquires for these purposes. In this part, we refer to the characteristics and requirements of that infrastructure for installation and development.

An intranet can run on distributed or centralized data networks, depending on operating systems that support them. This will determine the form of data storage that can be accessed through it.

There are several ways to classify an intranet, this determines the existence of various types as described below.

Types of intranets

The parameter used for classification from a technological perspective, is the ability attributed to enter, modify and query data within the system. In this light, we can distinguish two types of intranets: passive and active.

Those called passive, are interactive but not dynamic, meaning that do not allow access to data and only allow static display information on the screen.

On the contrary, are active are dynamic and interactive, allowing access and interaction with the data by the user or client.

Seen from a functional perspective, the sort parameter considered is the function it serves the intranet. In this case, we find: those who support decision making, control and management and those who support the operational and administrative aspects of the company.

The first providing relevant to the management cycle of the company in its decision functions, control and management information. The latter however, more properly serve the operational functions of the company.

Where and how to install an intranet

At this point we can distinguish two essential elements:. Hardware and software
There is a third element, perhaps most important, we mean the team of people required for installation and development of an intranet. In this case, the group of experts and their functions, is not different from that specified for the development of a website.
Hardware:

The basic equipment necessary to install an intranet is:

– Web Server (Webserver)
– Wireless data network
– Equipment customers.

Web Server: You can install as many as are required for the type of intranet  bạc đạn that is deployed and considering the complexity of the system requirements. Specifications or servers will be defined depending on the volume of data to be stored, the memory requirements of the intranet programs and operating system programs.

Connecting to internal and / or external network: There is a huge variety and types of networks. Their characteristics depend on the type of connection is established with the Web server itself and with other external if it is defined. The best known are the star networks, ring or bus. This will depend on the type of cabling and network card is chosen for the connection.

Client computers: the number is determined by the number of access points required for intranet users. However, the number of permitted users, is determined by the capacity of existing or servers.Its features can be very heterogeneous.

Software:

This is perhaps the most novel for specialists who want to venture into the theme appearance. This item is necessary to have the following software:

– Operating system servers and clients
– Communication Protocols
– Security Software
– Software Development
– Software interpreter for the intranet (Browser)

Operating system is necessary to distinguish two types of operating systems: network system administrator and client system. Clarity that a network is not always worth a server to run, but is not the case for the intranet.

Communication protocols: a software that establishes communication between the different elements existing in a network is needed, whether clients and / or servers. The protocol governing most intranets is TCP / IP.

Software security: these programs can operate before, during or after communication to the network. This can also be installed on the same machine that supports the Web or on other servers on the network. A security element is one that has the role of local police regarding communications received by the Web server. Known under the name Firewall or firebreaks and there are also Proxies, in this case, act as detectors of traffic that the network server.

Software development: there are a variety of them, depending on the environment in which it is to develop the application, not the environment they are going to use the application.

Any text editor can serve as editor of HTML, which means that serves to program in most languages ​​of the Web world.

However, note that the software industry has, in recent years, a special emphasis on building software for Web development of integrated products, in a very easy and fast. In fact, these programs are required to domain specific language programmer for these purposes, such as HTML. Even last appeared on the market, programs also aim to facilitate the programming of Web connectivity with databases.

Importantly, the use of these new programs, it also requires more powerful hardware and computer software for system development. We refer to memory, number of instructions allowed and speed to execute.

Whatever the program used to generate Webs, basic language options for its development are the same. Among them are: HTML, Java, ActiveX, C language and others.

It’s not the same situation with regard to selection of commercial programs created specifically for these purposes. In this case, the selected application depends on the operating environment of the equipment intended for programming the Web. (PC, Mac or Unix)

Some of the most popular programs for these purposes are:

– Front Page, Microsoft (PC)
– Page Mill Adobe / Acrobat. (PC and Mac)
– AOLPress, American Online (PC)
– lnterDev, Microsoft (PC)
– Merchant, Commerciant, Studio, all those of Microsoft (PC)

Moreover, there are commercial programs that were originally developed for other applications, but have been retrofitted for the Web world. This applies to: Microsoft Office, Visual Basic, Visual Fox Pro, among others.

There is also the possibility of transforming a document prepared in certain programs or applications and use so-called “HTML converters” that are generally free for the trial period.

Among development programs are also complementary applications such as: video editors, sound, animation etc., which serve to develop these applications and introduce them to the Web for customer use.

Just as there are these applications to development and client, there are other exclusively for the client.

Software interpreter (Browser) are programs that allow you to navigate (check and display) different Webs or existing information systems on the local network (intranet) or the Internet. They have the advantage of performing this function in a comprehensive, easy, friendly and dynamic way. The best known are:

Netscape Navigator (occupies 70% market share Browsers)
Internet Explorer (28%)
Mosaic (2%)

There are other lesser known and lesser quality. These programs also allow the user to enable or disable specific applications that threaten the security of your own computer. It also allows to configure the program to access other active services on the network, including: email, FTP, News, Telnet and others. Other functions defined in the Browser is that it allows: print, save, copy, etc, from any remote server.

Human Resources

The group of people required for the development of an intranet, is similar to that required for the development of a web.

Conclusions

Certainly intranet is a way of doing things that has come to stay. It is not a concept that must bind slightly some kind of technology, but rather must be associated with a new way of doing things in the company. It involves rethinking the objectives it seeks to manage the company operates in the production process; involves understanding that the goal is to identify the information as the basic element of the success or failure of the company.

Intranet is an opportunity to reduce the preponderance given to the problems of connectivity and compatibility, and abocarse the production process that gives benefit to the organization. Intranet is a key to achieving the overall quality of the products or services the company offers its customers; because the target for total quality is not controlled but rather occurs.


Categorised as: Internet



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