During the late 90’s, extranets were all the rage. At that time, I was working for a large telcom where we sold a service called “extranet complete” which was basically a portal and some simple collaboration software connected by VPN. The goal was for two organizations - typically partners - to share information to help streamline business processes. Extranet’s fizzled out before the mid-2000’s and not often discussed in today’s world of wiki’s, social software and SaaS.
At Carpathia Hosting, we are starting to see something very interesting happen. Organizations not only want to share data but in some cases, also share computing resources. This is driving a very interesting cloud formation - semi-private clouds. In this model, the organizations share not just data but compute resources to process the data or solve parts of a complex B2B problem. This approach takes out several of the problems of the previous generation extranets and makes the data a whole lot more interesting when you can directly interact with it.
I’d be very interested if other folks are seeing this trend building and the demand for these kinds of solutions.