A 3rd way to build an intranet

If you're an intranet manager looking to upgrade or replace your intranet you usually have two choices when it comes to new products:

  1. SharePoint 2010 or 2013
  2. Another Content Management System (CMS) that offers similar features to SharePoint

So the question asked by Jesper Bylund in his blog post "Our third way intranet" is whether there is a different away to build an intranet that provides all the functionality of SharePoint but without the overheads and development time of SharePoint, but that also offers the flexibility of a bespoke CMS.

According to Jesper it is possible to do this by combining the functionality contained within different products. In his blog post he outlines the ways they have addressed their business requirements using a number of different tools. So in order to facilitate blogging they started using Wordpress. When individuals started asking for Wiki functionality on the intranet they looked at Mediawiki. Using these best of breed tools meant that Jesper's organisation was able to provide functionality that their existing CMS didn't support, without having to go through a long search for a replacement CMS.

In his blog post Jesper also outlines the other benefits that have come from integrating best of breed solutions within the existing CMS. They are that:

  • Having seperate tools embedded within the intranet means the best tool is available at all times
  • Using open source tools saves on development time and costs
  • The tools could be swapped in and out relatively easily
  • The open source tools can be updated by 3rd parties more easily then updating the entire intranet

Jesper has included some screenshots in his blog post, which are well worth reviewing to see how he has integrated tools like Wordpress and Mediawiki.

  1. gravatar

    # by Richard Vankoningsveld - Tuesday, September 03, 2013

    In a past roell we tried something very similar to this. Had a library blog and a firm wide wiki that complemented the limited functionality of our existing CMS.

    The big problem was authentication of users. It was extremely difficult to get SSO working - I don't think we ever really manged a seamless solution and this put users off big time.

  2. gravatar

    # by Richard Vankoningsveld - Tuesday, September 03, 2013

    In a previous role we tried something very similar to this. Had a blog and wiki that extended the limited functionality of our existing Intranet.

    The big problem was authentication. SSO was a big headache. Don't think we ever got a seamless solution together and this put users off big time - to much logging in!

  3. gravatar

    # by Unknown - Thursday, September 05, 2013

    Hi! Nice to see a discussion about the Third Way.

    Yes, authentication is a big problem.

    Our solution today is to have free read on most of the intranet, and offer "remember me 30 days" in every tool for write. This way the user only has to log in a few times every month. The personalized dashboard requires login, but also has the 30 days checkbox. For us, the computer login and screen saver is enough safety for the intranet.

    But we are working on connecting all intranet tools to the brand new company SSO, and actually solved this in test environments May. One big problem is almost no other system is connected to the SSO. Therefore 31 minutes of inactivity on the intranet trigger a new login demand in the SSO. This is not acceptable, in my opinion. Therefore, right now we have big discussions about SSO timeout spans.