What is an extranet ?

An extranet is a private website that provides restricted and controlled access to areas hosting data or services. Access by participants is controlled by means of a connection provided by the authority running the extranet, associated with a password, which can be deactivated at any time by this authority in the event of loss of access rights by one of the participants.

The functionalities of an intranet are the same, except that it is an internal network within the organization, deployed inside its firewall without using a public (web) infrastructure.

The security advantage of an extranet is that it avoids giving participants from outside the organization access inside the firewall and protects the organization's "core" applications. A second advantage is that it avoids relying on weak or insecure web tools such as email or public sharing platforms. The possible disadvantage is that an extranet uses the web infrastructure and therefore requires special attention to access security, encryption of web transactions and hosting security.  

The functionalities of the extranets mainly integrate data storage, document exchange and file sharing. The main uses are :

  • Sharing the company with its customers or suppliers (we talk about customer spaces and supplier spaces).

  • Sharing between participants in a project (called project space).

  • Sharing between members of a committee, an assembly (board of directors, works council...).

  • Collaboration within a network of partners, licensees, franchisees...

  • Document collections in administrative or business processes.

 
Extranets have rapidly multiplied in large and medium-sized companies, driven by customer services and the development of inter-company collaboration. Their relatively high development and maintenance costs have long deprived small organizations of them. They are now penetrating this target thanks to suppliers offering turnkey tools based on SaaS (Software as a Service) technology that offload the subscriber from the costs and risks of development, maintenance, hosting and backups.
 
Some extranets are referred to as data rooms because they have advanced functions that make it possible, in particular, to prevent the redistribution of information and to trace each consultation.

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