user self-provisioning

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, 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.

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.

This was first published in September 2011

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