Microsoft Provisioning System capabilities

Microsoft Provisioning System provides an extensible Windows-based platform for provisioning Web-hosting services and hosted messaging and collaboration. With Microsoft Provisioning System and service providers, you can automate many steps of the provisioning process within a data center. This includes adding, modifying, and removing virtual resources, such as Web sites and FrontPage extensions that support dynamic Web-based services for multiple organizations.

Implementing and managing provisioning resources and transactions

You can use Microsoft Provisioning System to implement and manage multiple services for a large number of users. This can include implementing and managing messaging and collaboration, user administration, Web sites, FrontPage extensions, and other services commonly provided by a data center.

Microsoft Provisioning System automates the tasks required to provision such services. This streamlines the completion of customer requests. Although not all functionality is fully implemented in Microsoft Provisioning System, you can implement functionality not available in the initial installation by developing and integrating custom components. Because it is so flexible, Microsoft Provisioning System supports almost any Web-hosting or messaging and collaboration functionality.

Microsoft Provisioning System provisions users, systems, services, and applications for the following service-based organizations:

Service providers

Service providers, such as Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Application Service Providers (ASPs), offer multiple services to consumers. Microsoft Provisioning System enables service providers to automate these services. It does so by combining the steps involved in common tasks into a single, automated transaction.

Service providers also use Microsoft Provisioning System to create plans with different combinations of services. For example, a service provider might create one plan that offers messaging services only and create another plan that offers both messaging services and file system services

Service aggregators

Service aggregators offer suites of services to customers. These suites of services are delivered either directly or by a variety of service providers. Microsoft Provisioning System allows service aggregators to set up role-based plans for service providers and customers and enables them to automate the complex administration of these plans.

The distinctions between service providers and service aggregators are not generally pertinent to the information provided in this Help. Therefore, the term service providers is used to represent service providers and service aggregators unless the particular context requires a differentiation between the two.

You can implement support for provisioning services functionality with a minimum of components. Using only Windows 2000 Server, Microsoft SQL 2000 Server, and selected components of Microsoft Provisioning System, you can implement a powerful and extensible provisioning system. With a minimum of custom elements, you can implement all components of Microsoft Provisioning System, along with Active Directory and other Microsoft components, such as Microsoft®Exchange 2000 Enterprise Server, Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS) 5.0 and Microsoft FrontPage for even more powerful provisioning support.

Delegating administration tasks

You can use Microsoft Provisioning System to delegate specific tasks to authorized users, including administrators and other users in hosting organizations, reseller organizations, and customer organizations. Delegating tasks, however, requires that you have effective security; it must ensure that groups and users access only those resources for which they have permissions. To this end, the features in Microsoft Provisioning System protect the privacy of individual users and groups even as they promote the delegation of administration tasks. This is done through Delegated Administration Console, which provides a Web-based graphical user interface (UI) that can be used by all authorized users, regardless of their role. Because users access Delegated Administration Console through the Internet, this functionality can be provided to all users, regardless of their location.

Component integration

Although Microsoft Provisioning System consists of multiple components, including a provisioning framework and graphical user interface (UI), the integration of components provides seamless functionality as well as flexible installation. With Microsoft Provisioning System, you can deploy all components, just the framework, or the framework plus specific functional enhancements. Regardless of which components you install, they use a common architecture that provides an integrated, systems-based approach to the implementation and administration of your provisioning solution.

Additional support

Because Microsoft Provisioning System includes an extensible XML-based platform and tools, you can easily create custom elements that extend the functionality of your system. You can implement this extended functionality through Delegated Administration Console, through a custom user interface (UI), or by using direct XML requests.

This operations guide focuses on the implementation of the complete Microsoft Provisioning System, including Delegated Administration Console. With the additional information that is provided, however, you can also deploy UI-equivalent functionality programmatically. You do this by submitting XML requests. The development of a custom UI to implement custom XML requests and the development of XML requests beyond those supported by Delegated Administration Console are beyond the scope of this document. To obtain information about customizing Delegated Administration Console, see Customizing Delegated Administration Console.

Basic information on developing custom namespaces is provided in Developing and implementing custom namespaces.

The Microsoft Provisioning Framework Software Development Kit (SDK) also contains additional information about developing custom elements, including namespaces and providers. For more information on the SDK and how to use it, see Microsoft Provisioning Framework SDK and documentation.