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INTRODUCTION TO INTRANET By: Fullgence Mwakondo IT lecturer Mombasa Polytechnic University College

Intra means internal or private. Intranet is a private computer network that uses the internet technology to enable an organization to share its resources with its employees. It is usually owned by an organization, company, university and college to share its resources to its employees and students. It provides the internet like functionality and navigation and it provides the access to the information and resources quickly and easily. It uses the HTTP and TCP/IP communication protocols and is only accessible to the authorized members only. Intranet usually involves the connections through the gateway computers to be connected with the internet. You can create intranet by using the third party applications and there is no extra hardware or software is required to make the intranet work. You can add users, customize the interface and access the applications. Intranet Applications
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Help Desk and information center. Organizational information sharing. Job postings Non-work related postings i.e. entertainment. Employee contact details and directory. Library resources. Remote desktop support and applications access. It supports teleconferencing applications.

Features
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Teleconferencing Collaborative work It delivers the productivity benefits to the staff. It provides a platform for the business tools. It supports the delivery of the training, education and the seminars. It saves the time of your employees and provides them the fast communication through the emails and the newsgroups.
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It helps to increase the productivity of an organization. It supports the voice, data, video communications and multimedia applications to facilitate the users to communicate in a variety of ways.

Tangible benefits y Inexpensive to implement y Easy to use, just point and click y Saves time and money, better information faster y Based on open standards y Scaleable and flexible y Connects across disparate platforms y Put users in control of their data Organisational benefits y . Improved decision making y . Empowered users y . Builds a culture of sharing and collaboration y . Facilitates organizational learning y . Breaks down bureaucracy y . Improved quality of life at work y -improved productivity Characteristics of an Intranet y Intranet is Contained. o An Intranet typically is a local area network (LAN) or a Wide Area Network (WAN) within an organization. y Intranet is Shielded. o An Intranet offers the "common language" of the Internet without the loss of privacy of the Internet. y y Intranet is Gated. o An Intranet can be connected via gateways to selected Internet content or access. Intranet is Functional. o An Intranet is a fully operational network for organization-wide communication, information, and interaction. Intranet Size varies. o Intranets come in different sizes. In a small company, an intranet can be composed of only a handful of computers. In a medium-sized business, it may include dozens or hundreds of computers. And in a large corporation, there may be thousands of computers spread across the globe, all connected to a single intranet. Different forms of intranets y
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Intranets have been used by organizations to provide support for different parts of an organization y Personnel support y Sales and marketing y Information systems y Executive support y Finance y Customer care Each sort of intranet provides different support for the core business activities Planning and developing corporate intranet The process of planning and developing corporate intranet can be organized into the following Stages 1. Establishing guidelines 2. Establishing platform and infrastructure 3. Inviting all to participate 4. Establishing an intranet team

1. Establishing guidelines This involves establishing a plan that defines key issues that will act as a guideline for the process. The plan should include the definition of the following key issues or areas: a) Definition of intranet ownership  There should be someone(person or department) in charge of the content, technology, and strategy  This leader or owner can be an executive champion, an intranet team or steering committee  This is to ensure that intranet is streamlined and controllable to provide more return for the corporation b) Definition of the purpose or guiding principle  There should be some business case established as to why an intranet should be developed  Business case should state the purpose of intranet and how goals will be achieved  This is to help the executive to buy-in the project c) Definition of the intranet business model

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 Decision on how the intranet development and management will be controlled or handled i.e. centralized or decentralized, at a cost or at a profit ,internally developed or outsourced Definition of publishing policies(what is to be in the intranet)  On what can go on the intranet and what cannot  Can also include; y Who can publish Types of content allowed Site styles -- suggested look and feel Legal issues -- proper use of copyrights and logos Ownership of applications and content -- accountability for sites Security concerns -- how you should secure your site, extranet concerns Logistics for requesting server space, testing and loading -- how to work with IS y Allowed technologies -- tailor to your network and skills y Maintenance and content management -- periodic review of content and how to update sites y Site communications -- how to market sites once up Definition of a measurement of success  Determine the cost benefit analysis of the intranet project  Identifying cost of developing and maintaining intranet on fulltime  Match these with the tangible and intangible benefits of the intranet Definition of a style guide(how what is in the intranet should look)  Development of intranet is usually decentralized to the departments , each developing its on site and applications  Defines how what is in the intranet should look  Provides standards on the following: y Font size, color and style y Default screen size y Color use for backgrounds and other graphics y Suggested file size for HTML files and graphic files y Navigation requirements y Authoring standards such as headers, footers and comments y Logo standards  Possibly create templates where publishers can download and see examples Definition of a site hierarchy  There should be well-understood, ease of navigation through the intranet  Set up a site map Definition of the budgets  You should consider the following costs: y Servers and bandwidth y People
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y HTML development tools y Application development tools y Consultants y Maintenance costs y Security software and hardware

2. Establish platform and infrastructure Infrastructure refers to the physical network of computers in a LAN or interlinked LANs and the network protocols used. Intranet can be built using LAN or WAN technologies protocols used in both of these cases are generally different:  Common types of LAN technologies y Layer2-LAN switching e.g. switches, bridges (Ethernet, ring) y Layer3-LAN switching e.g. routers, layer-3 switches y ATM LAN switching  Examples of LAN technologies y Ethernet, fast Ethernet, Giga Ethernet y Token ring, token bus  Common types of WAN technologies y Packet switching y Circuit switching  Examples of WAN technologies y Vsat, Radio, GSM Consider the following when selecting technology for infrastructure: y y y y y Budget (WAN more expensive than LAN) Quality of service (ATM LAN quarantees QoS than Layer2/3-LAN) Estimated technology life Availability of upgrading and installation time (WAN need frequent upgrade) Geographical coverage (WAN for large area or LAN for small area)

Platform refers to the underlying technology on which intranet is built. Technology platforms come in all types, sizes and expenses ( i.e. commercial, open-source, or combination) Intranet is built on one of three typical technology platforms: y y HTML (custom built) Portal (commercial or open source solution)
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Content management system (custom, commercial, open-source)

HTML is a mark up language for instructing the browser on how to format and display a document. Is used to create documents on the WWW (web) e.g. web sites, web pages etc. A Web portal can be defined as a Web site for a specific audience that aggregates an array of content and provides a variety of services including search engines, directories, news, e-mail and chat rooms. A portal is a multifaceted piece of software that has three distinguishing characteristics when compared to the standard intranet web site: y Advanced user personalization capabilities; y Security (authorization and authentication); and, y Enterprise application integration (EAI e.g. ERP, CRM, HR applications) A content management system (CMS) is a database solution that allows non-technical content publishers, authors and owners to publish and manage content (data, documents, multimedia, etc.) to a destination such as a web page, database, or third-party client. CMSs are most commonly used for publishing, storing, controlling, and revising web pages and documents, on an intranet or website. Instead of having everybody design their own web pages, a CMS allows people to focus on the content and their message. The mechanics of posting their writings are taken care of by the system.

Factors to consider when choosing the technology platform include: a) Select browser  Avoid multiple browsers to maintain i.e. is costly  Evaluate all browsers i.e. Invite representatives of all vendors for browsers to sell you on the benefit of each  This allows you to tailor your web applications to one interface  For extranets there is no choice i.e. you cant control outside environments of your partners b) Develop access rollout plan  Develop a plan to ensure each computer in the intranet can get to the web server  Upgrade each computer and network in terms of TCP/IP installation, connectivity and required browser  Establish minimum requirements to connect to the intranet and instruction on how to request access c) Select a security model
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 Design a plan for securing sensitive information on the intranet by considering the following threats: y Snooping or eavesdropping risk of someone overhear data being transmitted y Impersonation risk of someone else accessing pretending to be real user y Unauthorized access risk of users obtain access to confidential data y User authentication access identification plan using passwords or digital signatures y Access control - tracking plan for users already logged in using cookies, digital signatures y Data encryption plan to protect data from outside access via internet using SSL, VPN, secure e-mails d) Select content management system  A system to assist user or publishers in keeping their content in the website uptodate  Content management system can be bought off the shelf or custom built  Following factors/features should be considered when building or buying: y Document check-in/check-out y Versioning y Content approval workflow y Open-standards database and template creation y Database management system and file system management y Dynamic page generation y Link management y Document conversion y User-friendly content authoring y Personalization y Access control or built-in security y Usage analysis e) Select HTML development tools  Select tools that best fit skill level of your publishers and developers  Two types of HTML tools are: y WYSIWYG allow nontechnical users to create sites without knowledge of HTML code e.g. Microsoft Front Page y HTML editors for more advanced users who know HTML and want to control page structure e.g. Allaire HomeSite f) Select database integration standard  Select a tool that will help to deliver data from your database into the intranet

 If you have many types of databases across various platforms, you will need an open and flexible tool ; otherwise look for proprietary solutions from your database vendor  Select tools that use API (rather than CGI that a very slow). If it works with an API, look to see if that API is used by your choice of web server.  Look for integration tools that offer complementary application development tools and have ability to connect to legacy systems if needed e.g. y Cold fusion y Internet information services y Java application server y Blue stone g) Select intranet traffic analysis tools  Purchase tools that can analyze your web log files and issue reports on such metrics as hits, page views, site performance, errors, click throughs,etc. to answers questions like: y Who is using intranet? y How are they using it?  Web traffic analysis tools include: y Web trends y Hit box enterprise h) Estimate server and bandwidth  Get the best server you can afford and give yourself room to grow to meet increasing demand for publishing text, audio, and video.

3. Invite all to participate Involves empowering both your content providers and end-users to take full advantage of the intranet by: y y y y promoting creativity encouraging feedback communicating standards and guidelines rewarding extraordinary effort

Ensure everyone within the organization feel intranet is affecting their jobs in a positive fashion and have the ability to make contribution to its success. This can be achieved through the following: a) promote awareness  invite all to participate in intranet creation and use using the following methods:
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Web fair an all day event complete with fanfare, training sessions, prizes and contests.  Internal advertising newsletters, posters, broadcast e-mails  Department demos launch meetings tailored to individual audiences  Intranet web site - Online intranet training, champions recognition b) Identify champions  Find those within organization who have a desire to drive intranet development  They respond to your call for participation easily and will be your asset for ideas c) Form steering committee  Should be made up of a diverse group of people from within the organization i.e. people from different departments, different levels of the organization  Can give leadership to the intranet development by:  Setting standards  Brainstorming new ideas  Resolving conflicts

4. Intranet team This involves forming a team that will provide the intranet development and day to day support of the intranet The day to day support activities will be: y y y y y y Setup and maintenance of servers Support and training of publishers/end-users Website and application design Ownership of intranet home page and site hierarchy Promotion of the intranet Dissemination of standards and guidelines

To ensure a cohesive intranet team is formed that is ready to take on the day to day growth of corporate intranet a) Identify team roles  The following skills should be present in the intranet team: y Web administrator o Coordinates and facilitates the enterprise content management infrastructure (chairs enterprise web council) y Webmasters o installing new technologies, managing them and help users use them effectively
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o Providing tools that enable users to publish, access, and customize their information by themselves rather than doing for them o Manages web email systems, Domain Name Services, etc. y Application servers y Graphic artists y Content providers (publishers also called content owners) o Determine kind of information to be created and maintained in the organizational web o Each major area has its own publisher (i.e. human resource, finance, sales and marketing, e.t.c) y Editors (also called content managers) o Determine what information will be created for specific activities (product lines) and manages creation and update processes and formal review cycles o Exist if there are multiple product lines or service areas in each functional area i.e. one editor for each y Authors (content creators) y Technical and help desk support y Marketing y System architects y Legal y Training  These positions can be filled from new hires, or volunteers(champions) b) Develop support system  Develop clear policies on how end-users and content publishers will receive support  End-users will want to know : y Why they cannot connect to the intranet y Why their browser is broken y How they can get access to certain restricted applications  Content providers will need support on; y HTML creation y Application development y Testing and loading of new content  Start by putting frequently asked questions on a web site, then make it easy and streamlined to ask for more personal support

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BASIC COMPONENTS OF INTRANETS Network A computer network is any collection of independent computers that communicate with one another over a shared network medium. Computer networks are characterized by the following elements: y y Protocols - a set of rules established for users to exchange information Topologies geometric arrangement of computers and links in a network o Physical topologies star, ring, bus o Logical topologies point-to-point, multi-acces Types -Architectures-models of node interaction and their relationships o Peer-to-peer model o Client-server model

a) Protocols  A set of rules established for computers to exchange information.  Are standards that allow computers to communicate  A protocol defines : o how computers identify one another on a network, o the form that the data should take in transit, o how this information is processed once it reaches its final destination. o procedures for handling lost or damaged transmissions or "packets.  Common types of protocols and their uses are: o Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol(TCP/IP) used to transport data reliably o File Transfer Protocol (FTP) - Used to send and receive files from a remote host o User Datagram Protocol (UDP) used to transport data without guarantee of delivery o Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) - Used for the web to send documents that are encoded in HTML. o Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) - Used to send Email

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o Terminal Emulation (TELNET) - Used to connect to a host and emulate a terminal that the remote server can recognize b) Topology  geometric arrangement of computers and links in a network describing computer relationships  physical topologies describe the physical layout of computers and their connections, include the following: o star o ring o bus  logical topologies describe the logical relationship between computers in terms of services, include the following: o point-to-point o multi-access point c) Type  Architectures or models of node interaction and their relationships y Peer-to-peer model y Client-server model  are also referred to as network architectures or network models i) peer-to-peer model/architecture A peer is a computer that uses and provides resources to the network. In a peer-to-peer network, all computers connected in the network use and provide similar services. The client computer can also function as a server for the network. All of the computers are equal and therefore known as peers.

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ii) client-server model/architecture A client is a computer connected to the network that uses services from the server. In a client/server network the server handles multiple requests from multiple clients for multiple services.

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Client Types  A thin client is a personal computer that does not have to be very powerful (or expensive) in terms of processor speed and memory because it only presents the user interface to the user.  A fat client is a personal computer or workstation that is typically more powerful (and expensive) in terms of processor speed, memory, and storage capacity. Most PCs are considered to be fat clients.

Server Types There are many types of servers used in modern computer networks. It is important to note that one server can provide many server functions. In fact, a server is typically configured to provide multiple network services.  Application and Information Server: Contains the applications and technologies needed to provide and process information and interact with the client.  Web Server: Exchanges files related to Web information, documents, activities, and applications.  Email Server: Manages both local and Internet email service.  DHCP Server: Dynamically assigns IP addresses to machines as needed. This means that a host on the network can have a different IP address assigned to it each time it
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connects to the network. It is important to note that network devices such as routers can also function as DHCP servers. DNS Server: Provides the name translations for the host name to an IP address. Enables the users in the network to use common names to identify the hosts rather than knowing the IP address. This is especially important in a network where the IP address is dynamically assigned. Fax Server: Manages the electronic delivery and reception of faxes. FTP Server: Provides the network administrator with the ability to control who can connect to a file server and what files can be shared. FTP service typically is integrated into all network servers. It is important to note that there are more secure ways of sharing files such as using SCP and SFTP that both use TCP port 22. SCP is used to securely transfer computer files between hosts, using the Secure Shell (SSH) protocol. SFTP uses the SSH-2 protocol to provide secure file transfers. Proxy Server: Services information requests from clients. The information requested can be from within or external to the network (such as from the Internet). The information passes through the proxy server, which can control what information passes to and from the client. The proxy server rebuilds the information received so that all packets appear to originate from the proxy server and not the original requester. Additionally, the proxy server can also be used for firewall protection by establishing rules that only allow the proxy server to connect to the Internet for any services that it is configured to support. Firewall: Manages the security of the information being transferred to and from a network. The firewall can be used to allow or deny requests for information from the network and delivery to and from hosts outside the network. Firewalls can be placed on the network edge or internal to the network or both. Print Server: Manages requests from clients for the network printer.

Security Computer Security: The protection afforded to an automated information system in order to attain the applicable objectives of preserving the integrity, availability and confidentiality of information system resources (includes hardware, software, firmware, information/data, and telecommunications). Integrity: information has integrity when it is timely, accurate, complete, and consistent. However, computers are unable to provide or protect all of these qualities. integrity is often discussed more narrowly as having two facets: data integrity and system integrity. "Data integrity is a requirement that information and programs are changed only in a specified and authorized manner."System integrity is a requirement that a system "performs its intended function in an unimpaired manner, free from deliberate or inadvertent unauthorized manipulation of the system." Availability: A "requirement intended to assure that systems work promptly and service is not denied to authorized users." Confidentiality: A requirement that private or confidential information not be disclosed to unauthorized individuals. Security mechanisms employed in a network environment include:
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 Identification and authentication o Identification is the means by which a user provides a claimed identity to the system. o Authentication is the means of establishing the validity of this claim.  There are three means of authenticating a user's identity which can be used alone or incombination: y something the individual knows (a secret e.g., a password, Personal Identification Number (PIN), or cryptographic key); y something the individual possesses (a token e.g., an ATM card or a smart card);and y something the individual is (a biometric e.g., such characteristics as a voice pattern, handwriting dynamics, or a fingerprint).  Logical access control o Access is the ability to do something with a computer resource (e.g., use, change, or view). o Access control is the means by which the ability is explicitly enabled or restricted in some way (usually through physical and system-based controls). o Computer-based access controls are called logical access controls. o Logical access controls can prescribe not only who or what (e.g., in the case of a process) is to have access to a specific system resource but also the type of access that is permitted. o The system uses various criteria to determine if a request for access will be granted. They are typically used in some combination:  Identity unique name  Role job assignment or function  Location place of access from  Time time of access during the day or week  Transaction duration of transaction  Service constraint preset usage e.g. only 3 users at a time o Logical access controls are technical mechanisms for implementing or enforcing policy decisions. o Two categories of logical access controls are:  Internal access controls y are a logical means of separating what defined users (or user groups) can or cannot do with system resources y this is implemented using following methods: o password only users with password can access computer resources o encryption only users with decryption key can access computer resources o access control list - refer to a register of: (1) users including groups, machines, processes) who have been given permission to use a particular system resource, and (2) the types of access they have been permitted. o constrained user interfaces - which restrict users' access to specific functions by never allowing them to request the
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use of information, functions, or otherspecific system resources for which they do not have access. Three major types exist: (1) menus, (2) database views, and (3) physically constrained user interfaces. o security label - a designation assigned to a resource (such as a file). Labels can be used for a variety of purposes, including controlling access, specifying protective measures, or indicating additional handling instructions. External access controls y are a means of controlling interactions between the system and outside people, systems, and services. External access controls use a wide variety of methods, often including a separate physical device (e.g., a computer) that is between the system being protected and a network. o Port protection devices o Secure gateway/firewall o Host-based protection

Secure gateway/firewall

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Firewalls must be installed to keep hackers on the Internet from accessing company information. If users are to be allowed access to the intranet from a remote location security rights must be set up through the firewall. Note that the intranet does not have to be hooked up to the Internet.

Hardware and Software The intranet runs off a Web HTTP server. The server can be running various operating systems from UNIX, MAC or Windows NT. The server software that delivers the HTML files to the browsers is offered from many vendors. Some are even giving it away with an operating system such as Microsoft's Internet Information Server. The employee will need a Web browser at the desktop level. Content publishers will want authoring tools and web development tools such as Java and Microsoft Active Server Pages. Users will want search engines such as the Google Search Engine or the AltaVista Search Tool to find information quickly.

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