How to Provision an Extranet Portal

By Chris Duehrsen
May 18, 2015
5 min read

Do you ever leave the office to visit clients or share information with your business partners? If yes, you may want to consider creating an extranet portal. What exactly is an extranet portal? It is a website that permits controlled access from outside an organization’s network, or in layman’s terms, controlled external access to your intranet.

More often, our customers have been showing interest in making their intranet site accessible outside of the confines of their headquarters. The reasons behind this push are as varied as the industries our customers are from. But perhaps two of the most compelling reasons are:

On-Demand Intranet Access

Your employees are constantly on the go. Whether they be on the road, in another office, or working from home, each user wants access to the intranet whenever and wherever they need it. They don’t want to wait until they get back to the office. And in many cases, the desired resource is actually required in a timely manner and your users can’t wait until they get back to the office to access it.

External User Access

Increasingly, organizations are finding the need to grant users who are not members of the organization access to their intranets. But many intranets contain sensitive or private information, especially Financial Intranets and Healthcare Intranets. Given the security concern, organizations turn to creating an extranet portal, which allows users outside of the organization to access only portions of the intranet, based on secure permissioning.

Provision Your Extranet Portal

There is immense value in collaborating and centralizing your information on an extranet portal. However, the question is how do you provision an extranet? The foundation is to create an engaging sub-site only accessible to external users and redirect these users on login to your extranet portal. The following is a brief process on how to execute provisioning a new extranet portal:

Choose a Consistent URL

You will need to choose an address that can be easily accessed at your headquarters, as well as from outside your organization. You will need to make DNS configurations to assign a public IP to your intranet portal and likely allow traffic through your firewall to make it externally accessible.

Be Up-Front

Your users will want to finish their online tasks quickly, even more so when they are on the road. For this reason, the most frequently accessed resources should be plainly visible from the home page of your intranet. The same goes for your external users outside of the organization. Find out what the most important information is for those external users to access, and only include those items on your extranet portal. Anything required by external users should be laid out for them on your extranet.

Be Searchable

In the Google era, users expect to get information after a quick search. Make sure you describe your content well, so it shows up on the top of the search results list when your users search. Utilizing our latest product release, Super Search, whatever your users search for should be at the top of the list, but if it doesn’t appear right away, it could need some more filtering (i.e. by author, by document, by publish date). If you describe it well, your users shouldn’t even have to use the filtering option.

Be Easy-To-Use

Your intranet is simple, clean, and easy to navigate, the same should be said about your extranet. Whether its users accessing it from on the road, or an external user accessing it, you want to keep your extranet sub-site simple so that extranet users can find what they need quickly.

Secure your Extranet Portal

Having access to your intranet from anywhere is great! But it goes without saying that you want just the right people accessing this information. A common concern for organizations granting external users access to their intranet is the possibility of sensitive data being seen by unauthorized users. With the different security permissions available on your intranet, you can secure your extranet portal to ensure this doesn’t happen.

Follow these tips to mitigate the risk of unauthorized access: