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December 24, 2008

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Sam Kleinman

Application. What ends up separating corporate intranets from the Internet proper is access control, at least moving forward. While it's true that at some point in the past, intranets functioned as infrastructure for doing collaborative work within a company. Historically there haven't been very good tools for doing this kind of collaborative work, which makes the picture a bit more cloudy, I suppose.

For the last--say 4 years?--we've seen an explosion of internet/web based tools that facilitate collaboration. Not only are there now tools that support collaboration but now we finally have a concept of what network-supported collaboration can be. Call it web 2.0, or whatever you like, but I think this is less of a technological advancement and more of a "advancement of user ability." More specifically I think it covers things like wiki's and database driven web applications, and messaging platforms like XMPP: though none of these technologies are particularly old, the general public's growing comfort with them is pretty new.

And the great thing about these developments on the internet, is that many of them are directly portable to corporate intranets and internal use. I've done some work deploying "web based" wiki's and blogging solutions for individuals or small group usage, and it seems to work great. What separates these tools from their larger network tools? A bit of really mundane access control work, and not much else. Sure, the functionality that we need from "private network services" are different from the functionality we require from public services, but from a technological perspective the difference in infrastructure is pretty narrow.

The company I work with--a web development consultancy specializing in Drupal systems--spends a significant amount of time on projects that are destined for deployment on corporate intranets, so I think it's already happening.

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