Automated provisioning means that when an order is placed, the platform automatically activates and provides access and management to a specific service for the customer on the spot and without manual intervention or configuration. From a user’s perspective, automated provisioning refers to creating user identities and roles in the cloud applications which users need access to. In addition to creating user identities, automatic provisioning includes the maintenance and removal of user identities as status or roles change.
For example, when a reseller orders a Microsoft 365 subscription for their customer through the distributor’s Marketplace:
- a tenant is created at the Microsoft Cloud Services portal
- the subscription is activated according to the order parameters (edition, number of seats, add-ons, etc.) and
- the service is activated and made immediately available to the customer.
Overall, the automated provisioning offered by the interworks.cloud platform provides significant benefits, such as:
- Maximizing the efficiency and accuracy of the provisioning process with various vendors
- Saving on costs associated with hosting and maintaining custom-developed provisioning solutions and scripts.
- Securing your organization by instantly removing users’ identities from key services when they leave the organization.
Before you delve into our platform’s specifics, it is important to understand the most important key terms and how they are used in the context of the various automation processes. The table below presents all the important terms you need to know:
|Reseller||A reseller is an account type of the platform that acts as an intermediary entity in the distribution channel that purchases software from key vendors (e.g. Microsoft, Acronis etc.) and sells it either to other resellers (indirect reseller) or directly to end customers (direct reseller).|
|Account||Accounts are fundamental entities for our system and are necessary to access it. By default, an account is a collection of data associated with a particular user of the platform. From a business perspective, it can be either a reseller (the most common type of user) or an end customer, i.e., a reseller’s customer who is the final consumer of a service. Each account comprises a username and password and includes various business and technical information, such as corporate and accounting data, provisioning status, contact information, demographics, Storefront users, customers, sales, invoices, etc.|
|Add-on||Add-ons are additional products that can be attached to a subscription and billed for in each billing cycle. Complementary to main products by nature, the system requires that you first create the main product to assign one or more add-ons.|
|Asset||In our system, assets are license-based services that are purchased and billed once but not renewed automatically. Contrary to subscriptions, which are purchased and billed periodically, assets require the user to manually re-purchase them to continue using them.|
|Product||In our platform, a product is a particular edition of a service offered by a vendor (e.g. a Microsoft 365 Business Standard subscription) that resellers make available to their end customers through our platform. There are four main categories of products that are set up, managed, provisioned, and billed through our platform:|
|Pay-per-use (PPU)||Pay-per-use (PPU) products are the ones which have metered use, and customers pay only for the service or the resources they use. For example, Microsoft Azure works on a pay-per-use subscription model, so the more you use it, the more you pay. To reduce costs, users can de-allocate certain types of resources when they are not in use to save money.|
|Subscription||Subscriptions are services for which customers typically pay an initial amount upfront, and are entitled to use the software only during the subscription term and can be renewed automatically. The term of each subscription depends on the options available by the vendor or the reseller (e.g. monthly, annually, biannually, etc.)|
|Synchronization||Synchronization is the service that automates the creation, provision, update, and de-provision operations between the vendors’ systems and the account performing the operation. For example, when a reseller purchases an Office 365 subscription, the service manager syncs the elements of your order (quantity, product, etc.) with the vendor’s server to make the service available to you.|
|Product type||The product type is the most fundamental entity for defining a service in the platform, as it establishes the properties and characteristics of the service that affect the provisioning, billing, ordering, marketing aspects of the services within the platform.|
The definition takes place when configuring the various properties and characteristics of the service at the product type level. When defined, the product type can then be used as a template to spawn as many editions of the services as required. Product types are used by product managers for defining the editions (‘products’ in the interworks.cloud platform) of a service by setting specific values for each characteristic and each edition. In other words, these editions are different “instances” of product types, meaning that you can have many products of the same type, while each product belongs to only one product type.
In addition, the product type entity hosts and facilitates various settings that affect the provisioning, billing, ordering, and marketing aspects of the services within the platform. For auto-provisioned services (such as MS Office 365, Acronis, etc.), the product types are created and managed by the service manager because the product type is the cornerstone of the provisioning mechanism. When a customer purchases an auto-provisioned product, the platform sends the values of the product type characteristics of that product to the external vendor’s system to specify what must be provisioned.
|Order||When a customer adds a product to the cart, an order is created to record that purchase. Users will need to execute the order to complete the checkout process and pay for that product. Unlike other systems, orders can be created as standalone instances and later assigned to specific activities, opportunities, or offers. Orders are linked to the products they include and to the invoices generated after their execution.|