How to decide on the right intranet software for you

Given the wide array of benefits that a modern intranet promises, many leaders are eager to launch their solution. One of the first choices most will have to make is whether they should build their own platform in-house or buy something ready-made. And on a similar note, if you do decide to partner with a service provider, which vendor will offer you the best product and the highest caliber of support?

If you opt for a turnkey intranet, vendor selection will undoubtedly become a major decision. Below are some key factors, differentiators, and questions to keep in mind as you make your selection. For the full list of considerations, download our guide:

Best intranet software guide pages

How to decide what intranet software is best for you

Should you build or should you buy?

One of the key decisions anyone considering an intranet platform needs to make is whether to build their own bespoke platform from scratch or seek out a third-party vendor. Build versus buy has been an ongoing debate for technology leaders for quite sometime. However, rapid innovations in the SaaS space have recently tipped the scales in favor of turnkey solutions.

Historically, proponents on the build side argued that it would be near impossible to find a bought solution that could be tailored to meet the specific needs of a given enterprise. These on-premise devotees pointed to the complete control associated with building. However, competitors on the buy side were quick to argue that cons such as the need for constant support and lower functionality far outweighed any potential benefits associated with an on-premise option.

As it stands now, a bought solution carries several distinct advantages. Out-of-the-box intranets are always evolving to ensure your solution is future-proof and teams have access to round-the-clock support via third-party experts.

SaaS Intranet

To stay ahead of the curve, organizations are increasingly opting for software-as-a-service platforms that are ready made, hosted in the cloud and provide tailored, high-quality features that their users now expect. Unily provides award-winning software that can transform how your employees collaborate and communicate digitally. Become a part of the new generation and invest in a subscription-based intranet platform fit for today’s digital landscape.

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On-premise vs cloud-based vs hybrid intranets

Much like the build vs. buy debate, the contest between cloud-based intranet hosting and on-premise options has become less of a difficult decision thanks to some key developments in enterprise offerings over the past few years.

There are three broad categories that enterprises can use to aid intranet vendor selection, and each come with their own benefits and drawbacks. To make things easy for your digital transformation, consider the pros and cons of each before you begin to build out your platform.

Chess pieces facing off in preparation for debate


Build vs buy: has the war been won?

Enterprises seeking to implement a new solution have traditionally been faced with two choices: build a custom-made portal or buy an Out-of-the-Box intranet product.

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On-premise intranets

On-premise intranets are systems built, developed, and housed internally. The platform itself, as well any associated servers and repositories, are supplied in-house. This type of intranet architecture proved more popular in the early 2000s as intranet software first developed.


  • On-premise intranets offer enterprises complete control over their platforms
  • This means that any developments, such as third-party integrations, are possible – so long as you have the time, expertise, and resources
  • On-premise solutions keep all of your data within the confines of your enterprise, offering the strict governance and security that some highly regulated organizations demand


  • Custom development can be extremely costly, as all the associated costs are yours and yours alone
  • Scalability is not as easy simple as with other solutions. As your enterprise grows, so does your maintenance and server costs
  • Ideation and development of new features falls to you. Where SAAS users benefit from customer community-driven feedback, on-premise solutions put all the onus on your people to grow

Cloud-based intranets

Cloud software has become the engine on which work runs. The SAAS industry has grown to encompass almost all of the tools we rely on to get work done, particularly in the era of hybrid work. Cloud-based intranets provide enterprises with an Out-of-the-Box platform and off-site data housing at the price of regular subscription costs.


  • Cloud-based intranets benefit from evergreen product roadmaps, meaning new features can be developed and rolled out to an entire customer base
  • Cloud solutions outsource security, server hosting, and development to the vendor, meaning that your platform is managed by specialist experts
  • Cloud-based intranets offer unparalleled scalability, allowing enterprises to grow and succeed freely


  • Cloud-based intranets operate on a SAAS model, so you rely on your vendor for updates, custom development, and security
  • When you choose an Out-of-the-Box platform, you are essentially working with another person’s toolkit. Any custom developments must be achieved with their existing architecture.

Cloud Intranet

As workforces become more mobile, cloud-based intranet software is providing enterprises with the technology to communicate, collaborate and drive productivity effectively. Unily's award-winning cloud intranet combines beautiful design with unparalleled functionality to deliver a best-in-class digital workplace solution that empowers employees to work smarter, wherever they might be.

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Hybrid intranets

Hybrid intranets combine elements of both on-premise and cloud-based platforms. This allows enterprises to outsource some of the required maintenance and upkeep while retaining closer control of their intranet’s roadmap.


  • Enterprises can relinquish the costs of server hosting and security but remain in control of the development and future of their intranet
  • Enterprises can hit the ground running with the building blocks of their platform already laid out, similar to an IAAS model


  • Custom development and its associated costs still fall on your enterprise
  • Though offering more granular control than a cloud-based platform, you still rely on the underlying framework provided by your vendor
  • Finding talent with the right expertise can be difficult and more costly, as you require people with extensive knowledge of both your system and your vendor’s infrastructure

Hybrid Intranet

A hybrid intranet offers a stable and effective way of taking on a migration to the cloud, while mitigating risk. A hybrid system is one that uses both on-premises and cloud services to deliver an integrated solution. It in effect combines a private traditional system, with a publicly hosted cloud instance, sometimes offering the best of both worlds.

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The truth is, this war has already been won, Where each of these options have their merits, it is clear that the market has already decided on the best solution. Cloud-based intranets have risen to prominence and continue to grow in popularity with enterprises around the world.

Gartner predict that 41% of the global enterprise workload was run on public cloud platforms in 2020, while just 22% will rely on hybrid cloud adoption. Further data cited by Forbes suggests only 27% of workloads were on-premise, spelling a 10% drop in just one year.

Integrating your intranet with existing tools

Eliminate time spent switching between applications by bringing everything under one roof. A next-generation intranet should include integrations with the following:

SharePoint & Microsoft 365

Maximize your existing investments by selecting a vendor that includes seamless integrations with the Microsoft stack. Ideally, the Microsoft Office 365 suite should be brought together within a single unified space.

Google Workspace

From accessing files in Google Docs and Google Drive to collaborating and sharing materials on Sites, get the best out of your Google tools through deeply configurable integrations with Workspace applications.

The importance of mobile and social

With today’s enterprises more widespread and globally dispersed than ever, the need for digital experiences that cater to each and every type of employee has grown. The employee experience has changed drastically over recent years and the digital experiences that employees demand has shifted with it. A social and mobile-first platform has emerged with these developments as a key facet of a modern intranet.

Give all your users a true voice in your portal, with powerful and intuitive social networking tools. Embedded across all content, familiar social features drive high levels of engagement, helping you to keep your platform alive and abuzz with valuable conversations. Empower social interactions with @mentions, #hashtags, and bespoke social reactions that make participating in the conversation instinctive.

Empower your employees to stay connected wherever they are in the world, from whichever device suits their needs. Your forthcoming intranet should enable your staff to access knowledge, collaborate, and stay informed whenever and wherever they choose. To ensure this becomes a reality, prioritize a mobile responsive intranet that will deliver a powerful experience across all devices, which can be tailored to specific audiences.

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Reinvent your intranet for the employee experience era.

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