The extranet is a private network that uses Internet protocols and computers connected to a network. In terms of business you can extranet’s main advantages are that it can improve the company’s productivity through automation of processes which have been done manually before. An extranet allows the organization or the information on the projects to be accessible at any time to business partners, employees or suppliers. The information in the extranet network can be updated, modified and corrected instantly.
Extranet and Intranet
Sometimes extranet can be interpreted as an intranet network but accessed and managed by administrators of more than one company. When intranet and extranet are built on a public network such as the Internet for instance then we are talking about a virtual private network (VPN) on which are used special security protocols. When the term VPN is being used it is not specified whether it is an extranet or intranet network. If all web sites on a virtual private network are owned by the same company then this VPN is a corporate intranet. But when different web sites or data are owned or accessible by different companies then this network is called extranet. It is a common practice that one web site can be a part of more than one VPN and of more than one intranet or extranet networks.
An extranet can improve the relationships with key customers by presenting them to accurate and regularly updated information. It can also provide the partners with the information they need without accessing the business organization’s entire network.
In order to protect the valuable information extranet and intranet require some serious network security measures such as firewall, server management, the use and the issue of digital certificates or other types of encryption and authentication methods.