Domorela's Blog: IoT vs IoT or Intranet vs Internet of Things

As many of the people I know due to my professional activities is not well informed at all about the actual meaning of the Internet, and some of the informed ones doesn't know at all the actual concept of Intranet, I would to explain their differences from an historical perspective and also to introduce what I call the Intranet of Things.

What we call Internet is a data communications network implemented using the Internet Protocol (IP). The key of the Internet Protocol is that it allows to communicate remote nodes routing data packages through different physical paths (communication lines). This way, any single node can reach any other node connected to the network even in the event of a communications cut. This is achieved having multiple available paths between nodes to route data packages in order to allow permanent communications.

The first idea of such a network was conceived in the early years of the 1960 decade by J. C. R. Licklider a visionary teacher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that was nominated director of the Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO) from the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), belonging to the US Department of Defense and later renamed as DARPA.

In 1969 the former Internet Protocol was used to implement the first link of the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) as part of a project of the US Department of Defense in order to help the US Government to have permanently communicated all his facilities within the US territory in the event of an enemy attack to cut their communications. In 1970 the Network Control Program (NCP) of the ARPANET was implemented and during this decade the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) began to be developed. Finally, in 1983 the TCP/IP version 4 was deployed in ARPANET as the standard for US military computer networking.

In 1995, after the development of the whole TCP/IP Stack was completed in the 1980s, the Internet was opened for commercial use in order to give another tool to the US companies to lead the world economy. But the Internet we knew in 1995 was possible to the World Wide Web (WWW), invented in 1989 by Tim Berners-Lee while working as a scientist of European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). Thanks to WWW it's possible to publish viewable content over the Internet. So Internet was constructed merging Telecommunications Technologies to share data managed by Information Technologies and nowadays we speak about Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).

Going to the matter of this article, we refer to the Internet as the World Wide Public IP Network in which all of their nodes are reachable by any of the nodes connected to it. We refer to an Internet Node, or TCP/IP Node, as any device capable to connect to other devices using the TCP/IP Stack. Also there must be established a difference between TCP/IP Nodes connected to the Internet and those not connected to the Internet. So we may say such devices not connected to the Internet are shaping an Intranet, that usually is being named as a Local Area Network (LAN), Campus Area Network (CAN) or Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) depending of its size.

As said above there are two main technologies that are shaping the Internet as all we know: TCP/IP and WWW. Many web sites have a link with the word Intranet, so this leads to think about an Intranet as a private access reached from the Internet by certain privileged users. This could be an Intranet from the WWW point of view but, from the TCP/IP point of view, an Intranet is any IP network not connected to the Internet.

Reading all the above, we may speak about Internet as an insecure public network in which there aren't implemented network security mechanisms, because all their nodes must be reachable, and about Intranet as a secure private network properly isolated from the Internet by using perimetral security mechanisms. Thus an Internet Cloud Service, named as Public Cloud, is insecure while an Intranet Cloud Service, named as Private Cloud, is secure.

So the concept Internet of Things refers to a network composed by any number of electronic device capable to implement the TCP/IP Stack and able to connect to the Internet and a Public Cloud Service that manages all of them. This kind of devices usually are computers, sensors and controllers of any kind for industrial, building and urban uses, cameras, vending machines, personal items such as smartphones and wearables, but also a long etc.

While the concept Intranet of Things intends to define any network as the mentioned above not connected to or, at least, properly isolated from the Internet. This kind of network is shaped by any IoT device connected to a LAN, CAN or MAN in which a Private Cloud Service can be implemented in order to manage all their nodes keeping them away from any potential external intrusion.

In many cases the Intranets or private networks are being connected to the Internet through perimetral security network devices, called firewalls and/or UTM platforms, thus isolating the Intranet from the Internet. There are also secure mechanisms to provide secure communications over the Internet through the called Virtual Private Networks (VPN), but these kind of networks actually are public networks communicating private ones through the Internet.

In our next articles we'll speak about how can we achieve an Intranet with a Private Cloud Service, how can we make an Intranet of Things deployment and their different use cases.


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