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Extranets

Similar to the word intranet, the term extranet has come to be used to describe a network connecting an organization with its partners, suppliers, and close customers. Sometimes the term simply means communication among such organizations using the Internet, but frequently it refers to networks that connect them together more closely than a typical Internet connection does. The network may use the Internet, or it may use Internet technology on a private physical network. Typical applications include sharing of information for joint projects, direct connections into a supplier's ordering system, and direct access to customer service and support.

Such activities include many that we have discussed for business-to-business Internet commerce. Indeed, an Internet commerce system may be the basis for an extranet, resulting in closer relationships for both buyers and sellers. In a sense, the extranet provides an exterior security boundary that protects the organizations from the open network while providing lower security boundaries for greater sharing of information between the partners.


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