You can host your intranet internally (in-house) or externally on a third-party server or in the cloud. There are advantages and disadvantages to each of the options.
Benefits of internal hosting
To set up a secure and reliable intranet in-house, you will need five main components:
- webserver to host it on, including server hardware and software
- a computer network
- security mechanisms, such as firewall hardware and software, and back up systems
- content management software for creating, publishing and managing content on the intranet
- other web-based business applications, eg for conferencing, customer relationship management, e-learning, etc
Setting up servers and software to run the intranet in-house will require a certain level of technical expertise or, alternatively, involving an IT supplier or consultant to help with the project. See how to set up a company intranet and choose an IT supplier for your business.
However, once you have the expertise and the infrastructure in place, hosting your intranet in-house will most likely deliver an effective system, with good controls and security options. It will also assure you that all the confidential data held on the intranet is kept safe on-site, minimising the risk of misuse and data breaches.
External intranet hosting pros and cons
Cloud or third-party intranet hosting may be good options to consider if:
- you don't have your own intranet infrastructure or expertise to set it up
- you are running a small business with no dedicated IT staff
- your network server has limited capacity
- you don’t want to commit to a large investment in new hardware and software
Some of the concerns with external intranet hosting include:
- security – your data is exposed and handled by a third party
- costs – initial set up fees may be lower in comparison to in-house hosting, but additional costs for technical support, maintenance or exceeding upload/download quotas can arise
- customer support – you are relying on their technical support in case of any issues
- technical support – the third party provider may not support all the technologies and applications you would ideally wish to have