In computing terms, internetworking is the process of connecting multiple networks by using intermediary devices such as routers or gateway devices. Internetworking is only possible when all the devices – and all of the networks – are intended to be connected to the same routing devices. All devices also need to use the same protocol stack and communication methodologies. The internet routing protocol is currently the protocol stack that ensures that all of the networks on the World Wide Web can communicate effectively. Each device is assigned an Internet Protocol number, which enables it to be identified by other devices and routers during communication. Internetworking is the core technological protocol behind the World Wide Web, but it also has other uses that have often been swept under the rug in computing discourse.
What is Internetwork?
Internetworking is typically split into two classifications: intranetworking, which deals with intranet communication and encompasses internal communication within a company, and internetworking, which deals with extranet communication, and involves some communication with authorized external personnel. This article is a brief guide to both kinds of internetworking.
An intranet is a network or cluster of networks that is used for communication and data sharing within an organization. One example of intranet use is the creation of internal communication applications like Simpplr. Intranets typically encourage communication within a company without allowing any sensitive information to fall into the hands of unauthorized parties.
Intranets used in business organizations typically consist of several interconnected Local Area Networks bonded to a router. Although intranets are typically internal, most companies use one or two ‘gateway computers’ that facilitate downloading data from the wider internet to the intranet. To access a company intranet, employees typically have to be authorized to do so by using some kind of multi-factor authentication gateway. Multi-factor authentication is now a standard security feature for all private networks. Authorized figures have to provide a password and one or two other forms of authentication. This can include biometric and end-user device authentication.
Firewall software is absolutely essential for all organizational intranet. A firewall protects the internal network from any data being shared from the external networks beyond the organization. The intranet looks a bit like a private version of the internet to people browsing it.
An extranet is similar to an intranet but can be accessed by selected users from outside of an organization. These selected third-party users are usually collaborators, clients, or vendors. An extranet can be very useful for organizations that exchange inventory management details with their suppliers or offer communication portals to their trusted clients. When businesses want to develop automated restock systems that involve communicating with another company’s intranet, they will often develop an extranet.
In the current climate of post-pandemic remote and hybrid working models, extranets can be especially useful in facilitating network access for employees that may not be present in the office. Secure extranets are likely to become more and more popular for this exact purpose.