Introduction To ExtranetAn extranet, like an intranet, is a private network which looks outwards. It allows a business to share information, documents, manage projects, communicate and integrate operations with partners, distributors, suppliers, vendors, customers or any other group of people concerned with the business. The extranet portal offers functionality 24×7 with secure access to collaborative tools with only an internet connection.A company might need to have several dedicated extranets for different clients or key partners in its operation. Extranet provides a cost-effective solution free of the costs associated with complex virtual private networks (VPN). As the numbers of virtual teams and distributed workforces increase, success depends on the ability to access and collaborate on business related information via the Web. IT experts believe that Extranet Portals is the next era in Web development.Some Practical Extranet ApplicationsExtranet portals enable communication, collaboration and data sharing. Some of the applications are client support, product demos, on-line catalogues and joint project management. A typical example would be an extranet created by a software services provider for a key client which could serve as a platform to manage project timelines, share project resources, provide deliverables and communicate specifications. Another application would be to provide customer support to key customers with training materials, online knowledge bases and an interactive help desk.
Extranet Portal DevelopmentAn extranet portal is an essential component in a growing business. Extranet portal development however requires abundant care to provide functionality without compromising security and ease of operation. Extranet portal development is based on Internet and Web technology for conversing privately and selectively with potential customers and business partners. Suppliers, vendors and other stakeholders should be able to access information easily. A good design should straightforward and perceptive, focusing more on information and less on graphics. A standard model cannot suit every business so it is sensible to customize an extranet application to match the specific needs of your business. A good extranet portal design should include:- User Interface Design and Implementation- Database Engine Design – Development- Programming- Messaging Solutions for Supporting Business Processes and Workflow- Content Organization- Web Services IntegrationMany online extranet solutions providers offer you the privileges of administration without the necessity of technical experience. To make the system secure, personalized delivery of content to the end user is an available facility. The administrator can even govern the site to make certain areas inaccessible.
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