What is Extranet?

Meaning & Definition


An extranet is a private computer network that extends beyond an organization’s internal network to include external users or organizations. It is a secure and controlled network that allows authorized external parties, such as customers, suppliers, partners, or other stakeholders, to access specific resources, services, or information from the organization’s internal network. Essentially, an extranet serves as a bridge between an organization’s internal network (intranet) and the external networks or systems of authorized users.

Key features of an extranet include:

  • Access Control

Extranets have access controls and authentication mechanisms in place to ensure that only authorized users can access the network. This helps protect sensitive information and resources.

  • Security

Security measures like encryption and firewalls are typically employed to safeguard data as it is transmitted between the organization’s internal network and external users.

  • Collaboration

Extranets are often used to facilitate collaboration and communication with external parties. This can include sharing documents, data, project management tools, or other resources.

  • Customization

Organizations can customize the level of access and resources that external users have, tailoring it to their specific needs.

  • Scalability

Extranets can be scaled to accommodate a growing number of external users or additional resources as needed.

Extranets are commonly used in various industries and scenarios. For example, a manufacturing company might set up an extranet to allow suppliers to access inventory information and place orders. A university could create an extranet for students to access course materials and grades. Extranets can streamline communication and collaboration while maintaining security and control over shared resources.

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