Organizations can now have cheap, open pipelines to their customers and partners. This allows the creation and integration of automated processes between business entities, as well as the creation of hosted services that can be used as parts of distributed business processes.
For example, a business may implement a purchasing system. In addition to tracking orders and managing the workflow needed for internal approvals, this system could automatically discover, solicit bids, and place orders through external suppliers. It could discover and arrange financing and shipping for orders, and track order status. By leveraging distributed services, the purchasing system remains within the realm of control of the organization managing the process, yet can delegate to external organizations for the services needed to complete the process.
Service providers or businesses that publish distributed services for internal or external use will need management functions to provision and control these services.
Provisioning is the act of preparing the system for the use of a service by a consumer. It involves preparing both technical and business aspects for supporting the consumers activities.
A provisioned service requires association of a user account and/or other information with the service. For example, the retrieval of an account balance from a user portfolio would be a provisioned service, as the account balance to retrieve must be determined. Additional access control is required for fine-grained protection of the assets associated with that service.
Each provisioned service needs some extensions to automate the enrollment and subscription process. Typically these are APIs built into the service, and need only to be mapped to the provisioning system functions through a service agent. The provisioning system will then drive these functions through the agent at subscription time.
In the following scenario, a service consumer contracts a service with a service provider. In our case there exist a service provider representative but this could also be implemented in a self-service way. Note that the service the consumer is subscribing to is a composite one.
Once all steps were executed successfully, the provisioning system sends a confirmation to the business support system.