Whose Network Is It Anyway?
We know it to be a galaxy in its own right, but to put “the internet” in its simplest terms, we talk about it as the platform used to pass information – which ranges in subject matter and importance – from person to person. Naturally, as the perceived value of the information we’re communicating increases, this gives rise to concerns about privacy and security, especially since most of this information (or all of this information) is open to the public.
Invasion of Privacy
If you happen to stumble upon this blog post, there’s a chance that you may be familiar with different types of networks that are built for more than just exchanging data (read: memes) between friends, family and colleagues. Rather, some networks are built with privacy and efficiency in mind – the difference being the anticipated audience that will be using the network.
So the advantage truly lies – as with so many aspects of marketing – in one’s ability to define their audience. Having a front- and back- end development team in-house at 19 IDEAS means experiential knowledge of the benefits for each type of network, giving us the ability to develop software and security that is almost specialized toward an audience’s needs.
Now, perhaps if you decided to take up residence underneath a rock during the entirety of the last two decades, you may ask: “I use the internet to visit websites and download apps all the time, so why talk about privacy of a network?”. When you browse the web, you spend your time as a user interacting with others on public-facing applications – each of which must have its own way of providing security, which can be very expensive and costly.
Development of such security on public sites requires a considerable amount of resources; meanwhile, a network of limited scope has security that is essentially built-in, rather than needing to be configured. The latter mitigates worry about integrating security into code, since access is reduced to authorized employees.
Developers vs. Rest of the World
There’s a difference in perspective. To developers, the scope of the network is defined by the limited access a server has to the outside world; to users, this scope is defined by the applications they interact with, due to how the software is configured for that particular network – we call this the application’s environment.
That being said, scope depends on who you are and what you’re doing, so in order to determine this, we utilize these simple questions:
- Who will see this tool? Define the audience – internal versus external.
- How should they use this tool? Describe the software’s responsibility.
- Why should they see this tool? Analyze information to illustrate advantages.
- What should they do with this tool? Explain the importance of the software.
The first question is of the utmost importance: If we determine that the only desired audience we have is the general public, then the website will reside on the public-facing internet and security will have to be enhanced to ensure that the right people are authorized to view content. However, if we determine that we have more than one audience, this is when we would decide to implement a different type of network, of which there are two types: intranet and extranet.
An intranet is utilized when your audience is a private workgroup, as is the case of internal employees who are only sharing information within these limits. As mentioned previously, security is built-in or inherited with the design of the network if the network itself is private, unlike the public-facing internet.
An extranet is a hybrid between intranet and internet, creating a specialized network that allows for communication between internal employees and external clients/vendors. We build an extranet with some components from an intranet and then open a network port that authorizes these external parties to access or share information with internal employees. The disadvantage here is a similar problem faced with the internet, in that security is expensive and would have to be both developed and maintained.
Know Your Audience
Having an understanding of the different types of networks is important for businesses, as each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages when it comes to communication services and exchange of information between parties. When choosing a tool, it boils down to the following guidelines:
- When you use a tool on the internet, you’re completing outreach to the public that markets your company’s services and offerings to potential clients.
- When you use a tool on the intranet, you’re delegating information internally to help analyze data and enhance your service offerings.
- When you use a tool on the extranet, you’re developing a close bond with clients who may be reliant upon your service offerings.
To discover which network will work best for you and your business model, there is no shortage of a need for data analytics – identifying your audience and understanding the kind of information that is shared within. And if we just used one “-net” too many, it might just be time to work with us.