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Intranets: Doing double duty

 

The Pittsburg Steelers found out that Cordell Stewart, a player signed as a quarterback, could actually play at several positions: quarterback/running back/wide receiver. Fellow players nicknamed him Slash.

In 1996, the cyberworld created its own slash: Internet/intranet. Check the product marketing literature of any big company, and you'll find that it's not only in the Internet business, but the Internet/intranet business.

But this is more than just another nerdy term. IS managers have found that adopting Internet protocols within their companies has tremendous advantages: Now any user, regardless of hardware or software, can have full access to corporate data.

No more worrying about installing and supporting specific products for individual users. Installing a browser and giving them an IP address is all that is needed to let employees communicate with and obtain corporate data.

The intranet market is supposed to grow to $20 billion by the turn of the century. That being the case, people figure that if they add another slash to the equation, it could be even bigger. So the new term being bandied about is "extranet."

Extranets, or intranets, linked together through a wide area network, may very well be the Next Big Thing in corporate use of Internet technology. So get ready for Internet/intranet/extranet, or IIE. Whatever you call it, it's clear that IS managers who eyed the dawning of the Web with suspicion, are now embracing it wholeheartedly.