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Intranet Zine

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So, what is an Intranet?
Dean Hall

What makes an Intranet different from the WAN/LAN that most offices already have? Email is already a fact of life in most offices, the same with access to corporate databases and proprietary groupware software. Intranet technology is based on the TCP/IP and HTML communication technology of the Internet; this means that Windows 95, Macintosh, and UNIX can be easily integrated in the same network. Rather than having an office based on one standard, individual departments can use the Operating system that best meets its needs. Internet software is generally cheaper and more robust than proprietary WAN/LAN software. Email can be found free (Eudora Lite), Browsers are free (MSIE, Netscape Navigator if you cheat), and servers are free (Apache, Quide Pro Quo). Rather than bloated, feature packed commercial software, internet software is small single-purposed, thoroughly tested and debugged. But the difference is not in the software, it is in the attitude.

The key difference of the Intranet from the old office network is that the Intranet is based on the academic tradition of open communication of ideas. A low-level employee in an organization has access to the same information as one of the higher executives. Communications can by pass corporate hierarchies. The purpose of an Intranet is to harness the knowledge base of a company.

The effect of this is that control of information technology is no longer a function solely of the IS department. IS maintains the servers and provides support services, but the control of content becomes the responsibility of the users. The technology becomes less important than how the technology is used.

Of course all of this presumes that your organization believes in the new buzzword of Intellectual Capital. If breaking down corporate bureaucracy, empowering employees, a customer-driven focus, open-communication philosophy, intellectual property development, a knowledge economy based, and human capital auditing, are not part of your company's vocabulary than an Intranet would not be a wise decision.

    So have I been in University to long and have no idea about goes on in the real world? Send reaction to: hall@dlcwest.com

    Dean reads Peter Drucker and is most definitely not a Unix geek