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A basic strategy for intranet/internet technology

Seminar Paper 2000 38 Pages

Computer Science - Commercial Information Technology

Excerpt

Table of contents

1 CORPORATE STRATEGY FOR INTRANET/INTERNET TECHNOLOGY
1.1 THE SCENARIO
1.2 REQUIREMENT ANALYSIS
1.2.1 Email service
1.2.2 Internet access
1.2.3 Web server to store teaching material
1.2.4 Web pages promoting the school
1.2.5 Web based forms for staff to submit leave applications
1.3 DERIVING THE STRATEGY
1.3.1 Proposition of an Intranet solution
1.3.2 Applying a web based IT solution
1.4 IDENTIFYING MANAGEMENT ISSUES
1.4.1 Cost benefit analysis
1.4.1.1 The costs of the strategy
1.4.1.2 The benefits reaped
1.4.2 Managing Web Content
1.4.3 Security issues and policies
1.4.4 Maintenance support
1.4.5 Upgradability
1.4.6 Funding the Intranet / Internet
1.5 IDENTIFYING IT SOLUTIONS
1.5.1 Email services
1.5.1.1 SMTP (Simple Mail Transport Protocol)
1.5.1.2 POP (Post Office Protocol)
1.5.1.3 IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol)
1.5.2 The Internet access
1.5.2.1 ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode)
1.5.2.2 DSL (Digital Subscriber Loop)
1.5.2.2.1 ADSL.
1.5.2.2.2 SDSL.
1.5.2.2.3 HDSL
1.5.2.2.4 IDSL
1.5.2.2.5 VDSL.
1.5.2.2.6 RADSL
1.5.3 The servers and databases
1.5.3.1 Linux versus NT
1.5.3.2 The web server
1.5.3.3 The mail server
1.5.3.4 Database considerations
1.5.4 The homepage
1.5.4.1 Content Management
1.5.4.1.1 CGI (Common Gateway Interface)
1.5.4.1.2 ASP (Active Server Pages)
1.5.4.1.3 Coldfusion
1.5.4.1.4 JSP (Java Server Pages)
1.5.4.1.5 PHP (Postscript Hypertext Preprocessor)
1.5.4.2 The Intranet pages
1.6 THE ARCHITECTURE
1.6.1 Hardware implementation
1.6.1.1 The network
1.6.1.1.1 Outgoing traffic
1.6.1.1.2 Incoming traffic
1.6.1.2 Clients
1.6.1.3 Server
1.6.1.4 Modem and Firewall
1.6.1.5 Network equipment
1.6.1.6 Additional equipment
1.6.2 Operating System
1.6.3 Running Applications
1.6.3.1 Workstations
1.6.3.2 Server
1.6.4 Dedicated Services

2 REFERENCES

1 Corporate strategy for intranet/internet technology

1.1 The scenario

The secondary school UniSec is going to upgrade its network on campus. With 1500 students enrolled and a total of 225 computers, the school recognises the need for the appliance of an appropriate Intranet and Internet technology. The current situation at the school shows already existing facilities that could be of use for a new implementation or an upgrade:

There are six computer labs of both Macintosh and PC computers, which run either on MacOS 8 or Windows 98. The computers share a peer-to-peer Ethernet network for file sharing whereas no servers are involved that could establish print and file sharing facilities for the students. Microsoft products are installed on the students’ computers.

Furthermore there are 25 PC computers running on a Windows 98 platform for administrative purposes. Their interconnection bases on a client-server model that allows the staff to share printers and files. The server is NT-based. Within that network there is a human resource application that is running on a MS SQL-Server platform, which is located on the only server at school. In addition the staff uses the accounting application MYOB, that is running only on the PC based hosts.

1.2 Requirement analysis

According to the board of directors of UniSec the main intention is to adapt the present scenario to the current Internet and Intranet Technology standards. Therefore the following services should be implemented:

1.2.1 Email service

The school needs an email service to improve the communication between both staff and students. The service should be accessible on and off campus. Every email client in school should have his or her own email alias and should be able to receive and send emails within the Intranet and as well through the Internet. There are no further restrictions that claim whether the email service should run on particular protocols – so an critical evaluation of the distinct technologies seems to be necessary.

1.2.2 Internet access

As the importance of the Internet increases significantly the school decides to give staff and students the opportunity to use the Internet as a large information source. Its users should be able to access the net from the local workstations on campus. An external dial-in possibility from computers which are located off campus is not planned. Restrictions on using the Internet apply only to students in order to avoid using the workstations for non-academic purposes.

1.2.3 Web server to store teaching material

The school has got the demand for a facility to store and access teaching mate- rial on and off campus. The files should be stored on a web server so teachers and students can easily download requested files through the internet via par- ticular protocols. There are many possibilities to implement this facility, so an evaluation of appropriate alternatives must be considered.

1.2.4 Web pages promoting the school

UniSec wants to present itself on a homepage for promotion purposes and in- formation delivery. A particular domain has to be selected, registered and as-

signed to the web server of the school. In addition a concept for designing, pro- gramming and implementing the homepage must be done. Questions about a proper content management system will arise since the intention is to keep the homepage’s maintenance easy for the staff.

1.2.5 Web based forms for staff to submit leave applications

An further urgent requirement is to establish a web based interface between the school’s homepage and the human resource application MYOB. Forms should enable teachers to submit leave applications from their home to the human re- source department in school where it will be electronically processed and stored into a database. The idea is to enhance the flexibility concerning the staff’s availability in school.

1.3 Deriving the strategy

1.3.1 Proposition of an Intranet solution

Looking at the requirement analysis it seems to be obvious that the school wants to establish an IT solution that enables both staff and students to com- municate with each other and to entities outside campus. Information should be distributed, processed and integrated within the value chain of the organization to enhance its service and to achieve time efficiency for managing projects and tasks.

So what we need is a coherent system that is capable to provide UniSec with the issues stated above. The idea is to get rid of the stand-alone computer sys- tems and replace them with interconnected client-server based networks to cre- ate a corporate information network, the Intranet.

Limited to physical borders the Intranet connects an affiliated set of clients using standard internet protocols, esp. TCP/IP and HTTP. It bears a lot of challenges for the school since it aggregated information from different sources which is

accessible to all the stakeholders (the pupils, the teachers, the staff, etc.) within the organization. It guarantees availability, security, serviceability and perform- ance (in terms of bandwidth). The Intranet is an Internet-based technology that is based on standards that provides integration and access to information, processes and applications. (Horgan, 1998)

1.3.2 Applying a web based IT solution

This corporate Intranet will be extended by establishing the connectivity to the Internet. Used as an external source of information the Internet technologies are also web-based and therefore easy to conjunct with the Intranet. You can watch the tendency that more and more applications are getting developed web- enabled or having web front-ends so that interconnectivity allows them to ex- change information.

Therefore the aim is to establish a web-based environment on campus with in- tegrated Intranet and Internet facilities. The benefits are enormous. The simplic- ity of managing highly developed homogeneous systems, the ease and speed of communication, the access of information independent from your physical position and many more issues can have a major impact on the school’s busi- ness. But there are some crucial issues that have to be considered when plan- ning and implementing an Intranet. Security issues, staff competencies, content management, sufficient support from the management and much more issues are important for the effectiveness and efficiency of such a network. There are heaps of potential difficulties and problems that have to be identified and ad- dressed before planning an Intranet or Internet. Those issues will be discussed in the following section.

1.4 Identifying management issues

The most important questions that have to be considered are what will be the value and the benefits of the Intranet for the school and what how much will it

cost. Due to that reason a cost benefit analysis is unavoidable to get an impres- sion about the returns of investments.

1.4.1 Cost benefit analysis

1.4.1.1 The costs of the strategy

The first major cost is related to the analysis and design process. External con- sultants and IT specialists have to be employed to determine the requirements for the school. With those requirements the network architecture can be de- signed and implemented afterwards. This takes a lot of time and consultants get paid for the amount of time they worked on a project. The longer the IT project lasts the higher the costs for UniSec. So it is the time that bears costs as well.

The implementation of hardware and software bears further crucial costs, since they have to be financed. First of all the proper hardware has to be selected and ordered which involves time. After the needed parts will be delivered to the school which has to implement and test the new network. The implementation takes a lot of time and makes the former network unavailable during that period. The implementation requires expertise and knowledge from staff or external employed people who work on the physical integration of the equipment. Once the systems has been build and configured there is some special training needed to make both staff and students able to use the new infrastructure properly. This training must hold on continuously until the most important and urgent elements are known and everybody is familiar with the features and ad- vantages of the network. Otherwise there would not be any benefits reaped. So the training is expensive and certain teams are needed to spread the knowl- edge all over the campus. One possibility is that student groups can be trained to deal with the network and then they will support the system administrators in terms of training. Besides a support team must be established to guarantee that the network is always running properly and that people who are having trouble with their computer have someone who can help. This support team has to get paid since it must be available on campus most of the time. Even if this team consists of students they will get paid for their work they do.

Considering the complexity of a network maintenance is also very important and cost intensive and should not be neglected.

In terms of funding, sponsors have to be searched and convinced to invest in the project. If the school takes a loan for financing the project interest payments have to be paid.

All in all the costs are based mainly on money and time, whereas time implies money as well. With the new infrastructure you will not have any major costs, you can only profit from it.

1.4.1.2 The benefits reaped

First of all the most significant benefit UniSec will gain is productivity. The es- tablishment of an corporate Intranet will allow to remotely solve problems and to distribute information just-in-time. Furthermore the representation of the school will increase since the IT facilities on campus convince more potential students to apply for the school. The reputation will significantly grow since the possibili- ties for an thorough IT based education are enormous. The students will gain more technical expertise because they contribute to the design and mainte- nance of the whole network. On the other hand the school gains from the al- ready existing expertise, skills and experience of the students.

The new Intranet and Internet facilities lead to gains in communication as well. Users can communicate with each others much more easier and faster. The internal web based system helps to establish an online help area to provide so- lutions to people who are having problems. Forums and discussion boards help to exchange information and expertise and contribute to an enhancement of the quality of studying. In addition the communication saves a lot of paper since information can be spread electronically. Furthermore communication facilities like email, video-conferencing and voice-over-IP are making UniSec to a highly developed school in terms of IT. The school can also benefits from online courses that will be held only on the Internet, so that they can accept more stu- dent applications each year since the capacity for them is created through the web. (MCP Magazine)

1.4.2 Managing Web Content

Managing content on an Intranet or Internet site is a very critical issue that has to be considered by the management. Depending on the type of information and its target group different availability and reliability requirements have to be en- sured. The aim of the Intranet is the fast information flow among its users. So schedule changes, exam dates and other urgent data should be available for the recipients as quickly as possible. The information has to be up-to-date all the time and should be posted on the internal web pages as soon as they are available. Furthermore it has to be recognizable that it is the latest. Crucial or urgent information should be accessible on the Internet homepage as well to ensure that people can receive important messages independent from their physically location. Therefore it is an important point to ensure that the informa- tion reaches its destination quickly. Due to this reason the ways of information flows have to be determined. Long checking and controlling instances won’t do the system a favor. This is very common in big companies where webmasters and executive people double-check and if necessary modify documents before they will be posted on the Intranet. That makes sense in large companies with established knowledge management systems implemented on their Intranet, but it goes too far when we face the current scenario where the accuracy of infor- mation cannot affect the whole business significantly. Due to this reasons au- thorized persons should be allowed to post messages by themselves on the net, of course only in particular areas. This is where the question arises who is responsible for the content of the Internet’s corporate web pages and the inter- nal ones. Large organizations usually employ a webmaster, web designers and web programmers who all have different skills to apply and jobs to do. While the programmers is responsible for coding the pages, the web designer determines the visual appearance of the pages. He or she makes sure that the corporate design and identity is guaranteed within the websites. Since our scenario de- scribes a small to medium sized organization, there is no need for employing more than one webmaster to organize and manage the web sites. After upper management positions have checked the documents or data that should go online the webmaster is the last one who controls the appropriateness and ac-

curacy of the layout and security policies. As already mentioned the process of checking online material before publishing is a very time intensive process. Wherever there is no need for letting supervisors or other people check data there should be the possibility for staff or students to use the Intranet facilities to post messages without any restrictions. There are two alternatives possible. On the one hand the school’s Intranet could be supplied with a commercial content management tool that automatically controls whether one is authorized to post information or not. In addition its users don’t need to be able to write HTML pages since the input is entered into particular masks of the applications. This data will be stored in a particular database and the dynamic web page will read the relevant data automatically out of the database and insert it at the proper place, of course using the proper code. On the other hand whoever wants to put something on the net has to write the HTML pages on his or her own. But that can cause problems since not everybody is able to deal with HTML. In that case there are commercial applications like MS Frontpage or Macromedia Dream- weaver that operate with a visual user interface so that people can generate their pages via drag-and-drop principles without the need to write or understand the code behind the page. To recap, the responsibility for general postings on the Intranet should stay at the authors themselves rather that delegating each information to one person on campus who will audit it in terms of accuracy and style. Policies can be established to determine what data can be published and what the creators of data should know about applying corporate design and identity. Major changes and crucial data should be proved by the webmaster. He or she reports reports his or her supervisor or CIO on a weekly basis to ex- change feedback and proposals between the different levels within the organi- zation. Depending on the amount of changes made on the Intranet the appli- ance of a content management tool becomes more effective since it has got tools for managing input from multiple users. (Networking Essentials)

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Details

Pages
38
Year
2000
ISBN (eBook)
9783638111591
File size
574 KB
Language
English
Catalog Number
v1894
Institution / College
UNITEC New Zealand – Information Systems
Grade
2,3 (B)
Tags
Internet Intranet Management

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Title: A basic strategy for intranet/internet technology