Gaining Online Advantage: Intranet, Extranet and Internet - part 10

Martin Belam  by Martin Belam, 9 February 2006

Intranet, Extranet and Internet

In part one of this article I looked at how in order to have a successful web presence you needed to identify both your business needs on the web, and the needs of your customers and audience. I also discussed how identifying your business model, and provding unified branding were important, using the BBC as a case study. Part two went on to look at the search and navigational glue that could be used to unify the web site of a diverse and geographically spread organisation, and also examined some of the issues surrounding internationalisation and localisation on the web.

I'd like to move on now and look at the complicated relationship between the intranet, extranet and internet that you may end up with as part of a large organisation.

The over-lapping spheres of intranet, extranet, and internet

One issue you may find, particularly with an organisation with a large geographical spread, is that some content that you would normally expect to be retained within the intranet may have to be published on the internet in order to make it accessible to all across the organisation. The BBC, for example, has some intranet content available via the public facing bbc.co.uk URL in order to facilitate access for people working at foreign bureaux outside of the BBC's internal corporate network.

For the BBC there are also things that look like internal documentation, but which actually need to be made available to the public in any case. A significant example of this would be the BBC Commissioning site.

After the DCMS review into the BBC's online activities in 2004, it was decided that at least 25% of the BBC's New Media spend should be allocated to third party independent producers. That requires that they have access to standards and guidelines, technical infrastructure specifications, all of the BBC's commissioning procedures, and even to named executives within the corporation to whom they should submit commissioning ideas.

BBC News Media commissioning site

It is quite odd to see the personal email address of senior managers at the BBC plastered across the site - as you may be aware from watching TV or listening to the radio the BBC usually publishes generic email addresses like breakfast@bbc.co.uk rather than named individuals. It looks like intranet material, but it is actually out and published in the public domain.

There is also another blurred area where we look at the kind of things that make the BBC website tick. For example, there is a support.bbc.co.uk site where staff can request technical changes, ask for new server accounts, set up new areas of the website and generally request a lot of sysadmin tasks to be performed. Actually, it is quite useful if staff can access that from home, particularly if they have identified a specific fault and they need to notify the teams at Siemens or Red Bee Media who do the majority of the BBC's web hosting. So this is available as an extranet site.

Continue to find out about how some of the BBC's administrative applications are having to move into the extranet sphere, and to find out how the BBC makes use of Open Source software.

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