Monday 10 September 2018

Internal Hosting, External Hosting, Web Hosting, Hosting Guides, Hosting Reviews

With our years of experience in web hosting, we’ve found that intranets can be a challenge. But before we discuss hosting intranets any further, let’s define “intranet” in layman’s terms, because even this old term seems to have morphed into various definitions over the years.

What is an Intranet?

Traditionally, an intranet is thought of as a private and restricted internal Web-based site and/or network that is only accessible to users within an organization.

Since intranet traffic is limited only to an organizations users, they are often hosted internally, within the company’s private network, but this is not always the case. Intranets are quite often hosted externally in companies that don't have the IT staff or infrastructure to run them internally (some consider an externally hosted intranet a contradiction in terms, preferring to call it a “secured Internet site”). There are many companies who have a lot to gain from an intranet but neither have nor want the overhead that comes from hosting it internally.

Internal vs. External: What’s the best choice?

So what's the big difference between internal and external intranet hosting? I want to share an analogy that that I read some time ago, since it hits the nail on the head:

The difference between internal and external intranet hosting is like the difference between buying your own house or renting an apartment. As a homeowner, you're responsible for all repairs and improvements. Whether you decide to do this work yourself or contract it to someone else, you're basically responsible for everything yourself. However, when you rent a home, all you need to do is call your landlord to have something done.

So you want or need a new Intranet, but you are unsure if you want to host it internally or externally. To decide whether to host internally or through a hosting provider, you’ll need to ask yourself two important questions: “How important is my Intranet?” and “Do I have the infrastructure in place?”

Internal hosting needs

Don't mistake a simple Windows or Linux server with a pre-installed Internet Information Server (IIS) or some other software for an intranet infrastructure. When hosting an intranet, you need to address issues such as (but certainly not limited to):

◈ The security mechanisms, such as firewall and proxy servers, that need to be in place to protect the network from external threats.

◈ Internal security mechanisms and policies, user authentication, and access control lists (ACL) to define multi-level, granular user access to view and update intranet resources.

◈ System availability, backups, data and server redundancy, hardware architecture, and disaster recovery (DR) procedures. All of these have an impact on the bottom dollar and your IT staff.

◈ The number of systems required: Web front end, search server, SQL backend, staging, load balancing, development servers, scalability, and DR.

Benefits of External Hosting

Many factors will impact your decision on whether to host internally or externally. For instance, hosting externally would be a good option in the following cases:

◈ Companies which currently don’t have their own intranet infrastructure set up and simply need to find a quick home for their system where all of the security and network infrastructures are already in place.

◈ Smaller operations which lack a dedicated IT staff, licensing, additional backup space, internal bandwidth, or time.

◈ A company which has power issues in their facility and wants a guaranteed uptime for a geographical office disbursement.

◈ Companies which want to focus on software and content. External intranet hosting allows developers and content owners to focus solely on the development and design of the intranet and its content, not infrastructure issues.

◈ Companies which want to make a smaller initial investment. External intranet hosting is the best option for those who don't have enough money up-front to invest in new hardware and software to host their intranet in-house.


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