Intranet with Umbraco?


Umbraco is what you might call a classic system for web publication and presentation. For this reason it is often not associated with intranet use where functions such as decentralized administration, work group functionality, member management, document management and rights-based searching are among the most critical features. However, this does not mean that Umbraco cannot be used for intranets simply because all features do not appear out of the box in Umbraco. Whether Umbraco is the best choice for intranets therefore depends on which functional needs you have concerning your intranet.

Before a decision can be taken about which system is the right one for an intranet, it is important to consider the following domain terms: Internet, intranet and extranet, where the Internet is your public ‘window’ (open to everybody) and the intranet is closed (behind a firewall). An extranet is fairly similar to an intranet because parts of it are exposed publicly via the Internet.
However, today the boundaries between these terms change continously, which is why the distinction between an intranet and an Internet often gets difficult when you are to choose a platform for domains. There is also the large zone between the two domains, called the extranet, which grows increasingly significant as still more business processes move online and as the boundary between what is internal and what is external gets blurred.

Long-term needs 
A few more words about choice of system for an intranet and about whether Umbraco is the right choice: there is no permanent answer to this question. It depends on business requirements and on which technical features can support the intranet. However, it should be stressed that the system with the largest number of features is not necessarily the best choice. Rather, it is the system with the best long-term, flexible options in terms of supporting a need, either by having it built in generically or by offering an open model to be able to perform integration easily.
On the basis of the considerations above you could mention an example such as AD integration (Active Directory).This is built into SharePoint, but requires a bit of integration with Umbraco (custom user provider). However, you cannot make a comparison until you compare the other needs, and, obviously, important aspect such as license costs, speed, complexity, flexibility, etc. must be included. Basically, there is no answer to the question of which system is the best one, which leads us to the next obvious question after having chosen a platform: should you have one single system for managing the intranet, the extranet and the Internet?

One or more management systems
Any IT manager’s dream is consolidation on a single management system. A single system is easier to control than a few systems, the license fee is cheaper and it is easier to understand and creates fewer problems with integration – on the surface, anyway. The challenge known by most people who have tried tackling the problem is that internal and external needs are often very different. And then there are all the problems in between (the extranet) and the problem that a system may be perfect for one purpose, but is perhaps less advantageous in other ways.

When it comes to Umbraco, it is certain that it will often be a good choice for Internet if you can design it with the platform’s in-built limitations. In terms of the intranet and the extranet further analyses are required of needs and of the breadth of technologies that can be coupled with Umbraco in order to obtain the desired flexibility.

An example of Internet with Umbraco
We developed European Communication Office’s Internet, intranet and extranet portal based on Umbraco. The portal is a focal point in ECO’s daily work and has more than 3,000 visitors a day. A wide range of the various features that exist here (work groups, calendar and document library) exist also as standard in a string of classic intranet platforms such as SharePoint. But the problem here was that, if you are a political organisation, there are many procedural needs and content needs that require adaptation. The analysis showed that a system such as Umbraco is the most well suited one because Umbraco will not incur great license costs, is easy to adapt and lightning fast to integrate to.

Intranet with Umbraco
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