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Internet vs. Intranet vs. Extranet: What’s the Difference?

Mike Hicks

January 30, 2019 · 3 min read
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We often receive messages from our website visitors kindly letting us know that we’ve spelled “internet” wrong across our site, referencing our use of the word “intranet.” While we’re always open to feedback from our clients and prospects, we thought it would be helpful to clear up any confusion between the two.

Let’s consider these simple definitions:

  • The Internet is a globally-connected network of computers that enables people to share information and communicate with each other.
  • An intranet, on the other hand, is a local or restricted network that enables people to store, organize, and share information within an organization.

Besides the spelling and pronunciation (which might sound forced and awkward at times), there are key differences between the two, one of the most important being that an intranet is a platform that can be bought and sold (or built, in some cases), while the Internet is the underlying technology that enables its connectivity.

Then, what exactly is an extranet?

There’s one more type of ‘net’ to consider, and if you’re familiar with digital transformation and enterprise collaboration, you’ll know we’re talking about the extranet.

  • An extranet is a web portal that is accessible by an organization and its external vendors, partners, customers, or any other users that require access to restricted information.

With an extranet, the host organization manages the site administration and content, and provides controlled access to internal and external members. Some example use cases for an extranet include a partner or vendor portal, a customer community, or a franchise network.

Let’s break it down

If you consider the prefix of each type of “net,” the distinction becomes quite simple:

• “inter” means “between”
• “intra” means “inside”
• “extra” means “outside”

Intranet vs. Extranet vs. Internet
Intranet vs. Extranet vs. Internet

So, what does that make Igloo?

We used to refer to Igloo as “an intranet you’ll actually like.” But over time, we realized that definition was limiting its potential. Not to mention, it associated our solution with an enterprise collaboration technology that was quickly going out of style.

Here are a few reasons why Igloo is so much more than an intranet:

  1. It’s built for engagement.
    Traditional intranets lack modern features and functionality and they can quickly become stale due to lack of usage by employees. They can end up as disorganized dumping grounds for files and links – and can be a real pain for IT to manage. Igloo, on the other hand, offers a simple and familiar user experience that truly enables productivity and creates a sticky experience that keeps people coming back.
  2. It extends beyond your firewall.
    Igloo isn’t just an internal platform because a big part of your business takes place outside your walls. With Igloo’s Networked Enterprise model, you can create an external community (or extranet) – for customers, partners, or vendors – that runs separately from your internal site, but shares administration, member management, and other site controls.
  3. It solves real business challenges.
    Igloo comes with an expanding portfolio of pre-configured solutions designed to help you solve real challenges across all aspects of your business. Whether you need a governance center, newsroom, onboarding center, virtual town hall, or social zone, Igloo can be configured to scale and grow as fast as you do. Plus, it can easily be designed to match your brand and culture, so it looks and feels uniquely like you.

So, what is Igloo? It’s a digital workplace platform that offers a suite of modern features and pre-built solutions that help organizations like yours achieve new levels of productivity, innovation, and time to value throughout their digital transformation journey.

Learn more

Are you ready to replace your intranet? See if Igloo is the right fit for your organization. Just simply request a demo with one of our digital workplace experts.