Corporate intranets have substantially changed with the rise of cloud computing, adapting to the way today’s business works. Even companies which have not shifted heavily from brick and mortar operations have begun moving their “old” intranets– usually wholly-owned, on-site data centers, to the cloud, often to the tune of substantial cost savings. There are a number of advantages, but with every new wide-scale technological innovation, there’s often bound to be a drawback somewhere, and the largest trade-offs have been speed and security.
The Advantages of a Cloud Intranet
A cloud intranet was originally a misnomer: company intranets were originally limited company networks which required authenticated access to some level of a company’s private server architecture. Obviously this architecture required maintenance, and IT departments capably handled such maintenance for years. Two things changed the nature of the corporate intranet: the rise of social media– which improved the interconnected nature of the corporate world– and the proliferation of cheap, easily accessible remote web hosting. This led in turn to the rise of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IAAS) and Software-as-a-Service (SAAS).
The advantages were immediately obvious, even to early adopters. Moving to remote servers in specialized locations virtually eliminated the need for an internal IT department in many cases. Remote connection to easily scaled web hosting services was often faster than remote connection to the LAN, which was limited by its internal server architecture. For many companies, especially small to mid-size businesses, cloud intranets were the solution to long-developing technical woes.
The Trade-Offs: Speed and Security
According to ServerBackup, a company that can help with backing up data, while the rise of corporate cloud computing has been stunning and virtually limitless in size and direction, there have been steep trade-offs in some areas. The most noticeable– particularly among brick-and-mortar organizations– is speed. Because of the nature of distributed networks, certain aspects of network computing such as file transfers can possibly jam a high-traffic workspace. Add in attempting to work remote desktops across different devices and in some cases, a cloud intranet can actually become an expensive headache.
Even worse, the very thing that made the internal LAN as reliable and secure as its IT department is now the Achilles’ heel of corporate cloud networking: data security. In 2014, the Cloud Security Alliance, a non-profit organization focused on improving cloud-based system security, identified the nine major weaknesses in cloud security. While some weaknesses were at the user level (in terms of authenticating membership in the network), some were actually at the provider level (hosting or implementation of the intranet itself), something virtually unheard of with LAN intranets.
Focusing on the Future of the Corporate Intranet
Advantages and disadvantages aside, companies using cloud intranet systems have varying degrees of success, mostly because one-size-fits-all cloud solutions simply don’t work. As cloud intranets adopt more aspects of gamification as well as more integration with social media, savvy companies are discovering that by introducing more opportunities for employee interaction and communication through the intranet portal, productivity is substantially increased.
Understanding the nature of company needs is essential in the design and implementation of a corporate cloud intranet. Done haphazardly, it could be more costly, less secure, and more difficult to maintain than the old LAN system already in place. With a good understanding of how employees use the company intranet, as well as technology in general, a cloud intranet can be designed to increase productivity and enhance the overall internal user experience.