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Provisioning: the enterprise angle

Apr 07, 20033 mins
Data Center

* Provisioning moves from service providers to enterprise firms

Provisioning, in the service provider world, is the process of providing a service to a paying customer. With operations support systems, or OSS, technology moving from the service provider community to enterprises, it’s important to understand the role of provisioning.

Early OSS technology’s sole purpose was to help manage the provisioning process. As might be expected, early provisioning systems were mainly workflow managers that assisted in scheduling highly manual processes associated with connecting subscribers to plain old telephone service. These systems were very primitive from a technology and support standpoint. Many were supported on mainframe computers and were coded in COBOL. Sadly, many of those systems are still in operation at regulated carriers.

Provisioning today involves many functions. Discrete functions that are included under the overall umbrella of provisioning include service order processing, facilities management, service design, asset management, workflow management, service activation and – more recently – billing and usage measurements. All of these functions are necessary in the service provider world, but may be less useful in the enterprise world.

What is clear, though, is that an agile enterprise – where personnel are in a constant state of churn and where the network serves as an extension of business processes – provisioning of services is becoming a more important function of IT. In such an environment, IT can no longer afford the luxury of planning several months to provide service to a new workgroup or take 24 hours to change the access for a user to accommodate a changing work requirement.

In fact, today’s struggling economy is putting enormous pressure on IT organizations to ensure that new services and applications are available to the appropriate end users as soon as they become available to the enterprise. The ability to deliver new capabilities to the business while controlling cost of deployment is becoming increasingly important to the enterprise bottom line.

Additionally, as convergence continues inexorably to meld traditional communications services into the data environment, IT must adopt tools that allow it to provision applications like voice over IP and videoconferencing in an on-demand basis. As the demand for quick turnaround increases, IT will require the tools to manage this process.

Enterprise Management Associates is beginning a new study to validate this line of reasoning. We will be looking at the drivers that exist to force the adoption of provisioning technology and we will be looking at the functions considered essential for provisioning in the enterprise environment. We invite readers to click on the link below and take a five-minute survey. For those who participate we will be drawing a name to receive a fabulous prize. We will report some of the findings in a later column.