User self-provisioning, also known as cloud self-service, is a system that allows end users to set up and launch applications and services in a cloud computing environment without the direct intervention of an IT organization or a service provider. User self-provisioning can be used in public, private and hybrid cloud scenarios.
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In many public clouds, user self-provisioning can take place over the Internet using web applications or services provided by a third-party provider partnering with the cloud provider, or the cloud provider may have its own back-end system for self-provisioning. In many enterprises, an IT organization will establish a portal application that business unit leaders and end users can use to request the resources necessary to run a new application.
Many self-provisioning user portals are paired with a service catalog, which is a list of applications and services that are sanctioned by an enterprise’s IT organization and available for self-provisioning. The IT organization can establish several back-end policies that automatically assign compute, storage and network resources to support the applications in a service catalog, along with specific security and performance settings.
Many cloud providers, particularly those that cater to smaller businesses, provide their own user self-provisioning portals to customers. Many leading providers of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), such as Salesforce.com, provide customer portals that allow user self-provisioning. If an IT organization wants to be the gatekeeper of cloud resources consumed by an enterprise, it can set up its own internal self-provisioning portals.
Several software vendors provide user self-provisioning portals. In 2011 Cisco Systems purchased newScale, a leading start-up in this market. Private cloud software vendors like Nimbula and Eucalyptus Systems also offer self-provisioning portals. Leading virtualization vendors, such as VMware and Citrix Systems, provide self-provisioning portals for their hypervisor software, but these tools at aimed more at software development and testing teams that need compute resources for lab environments.