In general, provisioning means "providing" or making something available. The term is used in a variety of contexts in IT. For example, in grid computing, to provision is to activate a grid component, such as a server, array, or switch, so that it is available for use. In a storage area network (SAN), storage provisioning is the process of assigning storage to optimize performance. In telecommunications terminology, provisioning means providing a product or service, such as wiring or bandwidth.
Provisioning means slightly different things in different aspects of telecommunications:
1) Providing telecommunications service to a user, including everything necessary to set up the service, such as equipment, wiring, and transmission.
2) Used as a synonym for configuring, as in "Telecommunications lines must be correctly provisioned to work with the customer's equipment and enabled for various options the customer has chosen."
3) In a traditional telecommunications environment, there are three separate types of provisioning: circuit provisioning, service provisioning, and switch provisioning.
4) In a wireless environment, provisioning refers to service activation and involves programming various network databases with the customer's information.
5) In a slightly different sense, network provisioning systems are intermediary systems that are used to provide customer services, log transactions, carry out requests, and update files.
6) Provisioning is the fourth step of the telecommunications sequence called OAM&P: Operations, Administration, Maintenance, and Provisioning.
7) According to the technical group that created the Services Provisioning Markup Language (SPML), provisioning is "the automation of all the steps required to manage (setup, amend, and revoke) user or system access entitlements or data relative to electronically published services."
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