Intranet Solutions

  Sir Radfordin 11:52 10 Jan 2005

Does anyone have any experience of Intranet solutions? Am looking at implementing one for the company I am working at and whilst google has provided a good starting point am keen to know if anyone has any good/bad tales to tell on the subject.

Am not really wanting to go down the 'build' route but am open to learning from accounts of how people have tackled an Intranet in that way.

  Taran 13:40 10 Jan 2005

Look at Windows SharePoint Services before you even consider doing anything else.

The beauty to Windows SharePoint Services is the built in functionality and portal environment that is intended purely for team collaboration and information sharing. It may be slightly more expensive in terms of external hosting but as an optional extra component to an existing onsite Windows server it is truly superb.

If you team it up with FrontPage 2003 you have the most unbelievable partnership right out of the box.

There are loads of portal applications available and I'm not just referring to the likes of phpBB and Invision PowerBoard that are so often used for small community forums.

Choosing one above another is down to identifying your organisations requirements to a very fine point. Failing to correctly identify these system requirements through proper requirements analysis is arguably the one area where you stand to really trip yourself up.

As a 'roll-your-own' example, I was instrumental is setting up a large intranet for the college I lecture at.

It is built almost entirely using FrontPage 2003 and Dreamweaver MX 2004 (they can share webs in collaborative projects) and the whole shebang leverages a mix of ASP/MS SQL and ASP.NET/MS SQL. I used some Visual Studio .NET 2003 Enterprise Architect but the majority of work was done in the two editors mentioned previously.

Hammering out the initial system design, as you can imagine, was the most vital aspect but once that had been done three of us had the skeleton system up and running within a very short period and it has now evolved into a vast system accessed by tens of thousands (internally and externally) and supporting upwards of 2000 IT students, their tutors, and several outside satellite centres connected via a WAN.

Of course, we had staff on hand and, crucially, already on the payroll, who could cope with software engineering on this scale. My point though, is that even a very large Intranet can be generated if you have appropriate staff to hand for relatively low cost. I can't disclose actual details for obvious reasons, but our application saved the college a very great deal of money and does EXACTLY what is required of it, rather than being an off the peg solution that we tried to adapt to our requirements, or vice versa.

To be honest, I doubt any one of use could make any serious suggestions without some pertinent information.

1. How many employees will the application serve ?

2. How many sites (physical buildings) does the business have that need to art of the intranet ?

3. Do you want internally facing, externally facing or a mix of both ?

4. Do you already have dedicated web servers ?

5. If so are they your own, outsourced to a host or are you running an individual hosting account on a per website basis ?

6. Assuming you have the relevant hosting tied down, are you running or intending to run Windows, Linux, Novell or whatever ?

There are loads of key questions I could add to the list but identifying requirements and matching them against an off the peg intranet application is a big, big topic.

I'll help as much as I can with specifics, but there is no way I can possibly suggest this or that product without knowing at least something about the intended environment and available resources you either have or are willing to obtain.

Best regards (and good luck)


  Sir Radfordin 13:47 10 Jan 2005

Answers to your questions:

1)170 employees

2)Five WAN locations (possibly VPN access required)

3)Internal facing only required

4) No dedicated web server so that would be an additional purcahse

6) Most likely to be Windows 2003 with IIS or Apache

Don't really want to go down the build route because it will take too long and require too much in the way of specialist knowledge/development. Company doesn't have an IT department as such and all IT Support is outsourced.

click here have what looks like a great solution but could cost circa £21,000 for what I would want!!

Would rather not have to go back to Intranet Connections!!

  Taran 14:03 10 Jan 2005

It is a nice system - I've seen it in use before.

Cost can creep up when modules are added to perform specific functions though.

Have a sneaky peaky at Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server. It is very, very surprising, in a pleasant way ;o)

Again, I am loathe to recommend one product over another.

I am old school really - requirements analysis forms such a core to almost everything I do for my clients that I balk at the very thought of commenting on a product based on the information you have supplied.

Far be it from me to drop myself (or you) in it. I can get into enough trouble on my own thanks...

I'm out at meetings until late this evening, but I'll have a think and look back in on this thread later.


  Sir Radfordin 15:28 10 Jan 2005

Thanks for the comments - I will go back to the SharePoint system. Did try to get my head around it once before but didn't get very fair!

Totally agree with the requriements analysis bit and it will be done! I do have an advantage in that the company has access to it's parent company Intranet which seems to server peoples needs just not in a very good way. The questions still need to be asked!

  Forum Editor 17:34 10 Jan 2005

I'll add my vote for SharePoint services. I beta tested this technology for Microsoft, and when I first saw what it could do I couldn't believe my luck - it was precisely what several of my clients had been crying out for.

As part of the beta program we were each given some space on a Microsoft server, and were encouraged to experiment with SharePoint Services. I ran a collaborative working area for a project I was running with some Hong Kong clients, and it ran like a dream. Since then I've set up several intranets using SharePoint technology, and I'm a big fan. Try, you'll probably like it. Couple it with FP 2003 as Taran says, and you'll have just about the best software combination for the job.

Can you tell I'm a SharePoint man?

  Sir Radfordin 19:08 10 Jan 2005

Gven M$ wonderfully complex price structure any ball park figures for SharePoint licences?

  Forum Editor 01:04 11 Jan 2005

Are your desktops running Office 2003?

A lot depends on your particular requirements, plus the software structure on your existing system(s). To be perfectly honest we are sailing out into fairly deep waters here, and you need advice that would take up far more space than is available in the forum. My advice is that you consult what Microsoft likes to call a 'partner' - a company which specialises in selling solutions (another MS word), and one which can offer you the best combination of software for your needs. You might be looking to acquire the Sharepoint portal server, as well as Sharepoint Services - take a look at
click here and work from there. You might also want to check out
click here

By all means come back for more help if you need to - we're firmly in the territory I occupy in my 'other life' here.

  Gaz 25 19:12 21 Jan 2005

with thumps up for SharePoint... It's very good.

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