Cloud provisioning means allocating a cloud service provider’s resources to a customer. It is a key feature of cloud computing. It refers to how a client gets cloud services and resources from a provider. The cloud services that customers can subscribe to include infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), software-as-a-service (SaaS), and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) in public or private environments.
You can liken it to leasing an apartment instead of buying it. Instead of taking care of repairs and maintenance on your unit, you can rely on your landlord to do that for you since you are just renting the property.
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There are various cloud provisioning delivery models. Each model depends on the types of resources or services an organization purchases, how and when the cloud service provider delivers them, and how customers pay for them. The three models—advanced, dynamic, and user self-provisioning—are discussed in more detail below.
3 Cloud Provisioning Types
Advanced Cloud Provisioning
Also known as “post-sales cloud provisioning,” customers get the resources upon contract or service signup. They sign formal contracts with the cloud service provider. The provider then prepares and delivers the agreed-upon resources or services. The customers are charged a flat fee or billed every month.
Dynamic Cloud Provisioning
Also referred to as “on-demand cloud provisioning,” customers are provided with resources on runtime. In this delivery model, cloud resources are deployed to match customers’ fluctuating demands. Deployments can scale up to accommodate spikes in usage and down when demands decrease. Customers are billed on a pay-per-use basis. When this model is used to create a hybrid cloud environment, it is sometimes called “cloud bursting.”
User Cloud Provisioning
In this delivery model, customers add a cloud device themselves. Also known as “cloud self-service,” clients buy resources from the cloud service provider through a web interface or portal. The model usually involves creating a user account and paying for resources with a credit card. The resources are quickly spun up and made available for use within hours, if not minutes. An example of this includes an employee purchasing cloud-based productivity applications via Microsoft 365 or G Suite.
Cloud Provisioning Benefits
Cloud provisioning has several benefits that are not available with traditional provisioning approaches, such as:
- Scalability: The traditional information technology (IT) provisioning model requires organizations to make large investments in their on-premises infrastructure. That needs extensive preparation and forecasting of infrastructure needs since on-premises infrastructures are often set up to last for many years. The cloud provisioning model, meanwhile, lets companies simply scale up and down their cloud resources depending on their short-term usage requirements.
- Speed: Organizations’ developers can quickly spin up several workloads on-demand, so the companies no longer require IT administrators to provide and manage computing resources.
- Cost savings: While traditional on-premises technology requires large upfront investments, many cloud service providers let their customers pay for only what they consume. But the attractive economics of cloud services presents challenges, too, which may require organizations to develop a cloud management strategy.
Cloud Provisioning Challenges
Like any other technology, cloud provisioning also presents several challenges, including:
- Complex management and monitoring: Organizations may need several provisioning tools to customize their cloud resources. Many also deploy workloads on more than one cloud platform, making viewing everything on a central console more challenging.
- Resource and service dependencies: Cloud applications and workloads often tap into basic infrastructure resources, such as computing, networking, and storage. But public cloud service providers offer higher-level ancillary services like serverless functions and machine learning (ML) and big data capabilities. Such services may carry dependencies that can lead to unexpected overuse and surprise costs.
- Policy enforcement: User cloud provisioning helps streamline requests and manage resources but requires strict rules to make sure unnecessary resources are not provided. That is time-consuming since different users require varying levels of access and frequency. Setting up rules to know who can provide which resources, for how long, and with what budgetary controls can be difficult.
Many organizations rely on cloud provisioning most due to cost savings. But beyond that, companies must address the challenges the approach present to make the most out of it.