In telecommunicationprovisioning is the process of preparing and equipping a network to allow it to provide (new) services to its users. In NS/EP telecommunications services, “provisioning”equates to “initiation” and includes altering the state of an existing priority service or capability.[1]

Network provisioning or service mediation are terms referring to provisioning of the customer’s services to the network elements, mostly used in the telecommunication industry. It requires the existence of networking equipment and depends on network planning and design.

In a modern signal infrastructure employing information technology at all levels, there is no distinction possible between telecommunications services and “higher level” infrastructure. Accordingly, provisioning configures any required systems, provides users with access to data and technology resources, and refers to all enterprise-level information resource management involved.

From a management perspective, it is typically managed by a CIO, and necessarily involves human resources and IT departments cooperating to:

  • give users access to data repositories or grant authorization to systems, network applications and databases based on a unique user identity, and
  • appropriate for their use of hardware resources, such as computers, mobile phones and pagers.

As its most central responsibility, the provisioning process monitors access rights and privileges to ensure the security of an enterprise’s resources and user privacy. As a secondary responsibility, it ensures compliance and minimizes the vulnerability of systems to penetration and abuse. As a tertiary responsibility, it tries to reduce the amount of custom configuration usingboot image control and other methods that radically reduce the number of different configurations involved.

“Provisioning” often appears in the context of virtualizationorchestrationutility computingcloud computing, and open configuration concepts and projects. For instance, the OASIS Provisioning Services Technical Committee (PSTC) defines an XML-based framework for exchanging user, resource, and service provisioning information, e.g. SPML (Service Provisioning Markup Language) for “managing the provisioning and allocation of identity information and system resources within and between organizations”.

Once provisioned, the process of SysOpping ensures that services are maintained to the expected standards. Provisioning thus refers only to the setup or startup part of the service operation, and SysOpping to the ongoing responsibility.

Network provisioning

The services which are assigned to the customer in the customer relationship management (CRM) have to be provisioned on the network element which is enabling the service and allows the customer to actually use the service. The relation between a service configured in the CRM and a service on the network elements is not necessarily a 1:1 relation. Some services can be enabled by more than one network element, e.g. the Microsoft Media Server (mms://) service.

During the provisioning, the service mediation device translates the service and the corresponding parameters of the service to one or more services/parameters on the network elements involved. The algorithm used to translate a system service into network services is called provisioning logic.

Electronic invoice feeds from your carriers can be automatically downloaded directly into the core of the telecom expense management (TEM) software and it will immediately conduct an audit of each single line item charge all the way down to the User Support and Operations Center (USOC) level. The provisioning software will capture each circuit number provided by all of your carriers and if bills outside of the contracted rate an exception rule will trigger a red flag and notify the pre-established staff member to review the billing error.

Server provisioning

Server provisioning is a set of actions to prepare a server with appropriate systems, data and software, and make it ready for network operation. Typical tasks when provisioning a server are: select a server from a pool of available servers, load the appropriate software (operating systemdevice driversmiddleware, and applications), appropriately customize and configure the system and the software to create or change a boot image for this server, and then change its parameters, such as IP addressIP Gateway to find associated network and storage resources (sometimes separated as resource provisioning) to audit the system. By auditing the system, you ensure OVAL compliance with limit vulnerability, ensure compliance, or install patches. After these actions, you restart the system and load the new software. This makes the system ready for operation. Typically an internet service provider (ISP) or Network Operations Center will perform these tasks to a well-defined set of parameters, for example, a boot image that the organization has approved and which uses software it has license to. Many instances of such a boot image create a virtualdedicated host.

There are many software products available to automate the provisioning of servers, services and end-user devices. Examples: HP Server Automation, IBM Tivoli Provisioning Manager, Redhat Kickstart, xCAT, HP Insight CMU, etc. Middleware and applications can be installed either when the operating system is installed or afterwards by using an Application Service Automation tool. Further questions are addressed in academia such as when provisioning should be issued and how many servers are needed in multi-tier,[2] or multi-service applications.[3]

In cloud computing servers may be provisioned via a web user interface or an application programming interface. One of the unique things about cloud computing is how rapidly and easily this can be done. Monitoring software can be used to trigger automatic provisioning when existing resources become too heavily stressed.[4]

In short, server provisioning configures servers based on resource requirements. The use of a hardware or software component (e.g. single/dual processor, RAM, HDD, RAID controller, a number of LAN cards, applications, OS, etc.) depends on the functionality of the server, such as ISP, virtualization, NOS, or voice processing. Server redundancy depends on the availability of servers in the organization. Critical applications have less downtime when using cluster servers, RAID, or a mirroring system.

Service used by most larger scale centers in part to avoid this. Additional resource provisioning may be done per service.[5]

User provisioning

Further information: User provisioning software

User provisioning refers to the creation, maintenance and deactivation of user objects and user attributes, as they exist in one or more systems, directories or applications, in response to automated or interactive business processes. User provisioning software may include one or more of the following processes: change propagation, self-service workflow, consolidated user administration, delegated user administration, and federated change control. User objects may represent employees, contractors, vendors, partners, customers or other recipients of a service. Services may include electronic mail, inclusion in a published user directory, access to a database, access to a network or mainframe, etc. User provisioning is a type of identity managementsoftware, particularly useful within organizations, where users may be represented by multiple objects on multiple systems.

Self-service provisioning for cloud computing services

On-demand self-service is described by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as an essential characteristic of Cloud computing.[6] The self-service nature of cloud computing lets end users obtain and remove cloud services―including applications, the infrastructure supporting the applications,[7] and configuration―[8] themselves without requiring the assistance of an IT staff member.[9] Cloud users can obtain cloud services through a cloud service catalog or a self-service portal.[10] Because business users can obtain and configure cloud services themselves, this means IT staff can be more productive and gives them more time to manage cloud infrastructures.[11]

Mobile subscriber provisioning

This refers to the setting up of new services, such as GPRSMMS and Instant Messaging for an existing subscriber of a mobile phone network, and any gateways to standard Internet chat or mailservices. The network operator typically sends these settings to the subscriber’s handset using SMS or WAP as mobile operating systems accept.

A typical example of provisioning is the BlackBerry services. A mobile user who is using voice services wishes to switch to BlackBerry services as his emails and data is very crucial for him to carry, his BlackBerry services are “provisioned” and thus he is able to stay connected through push emails and other features of BlackBerry services.

Device Management players such as Sicap ensures that end-users benefit from plug and play data services, whatever device they are using. Such a platform automatically detects devices in the network and sends them settings for immediate and continued usability. The process is fully automated, keeps history of used devices and sends setting only to subscriber devices which were not previously set. Sicap DMC ( Device Management Centre ) achieves this by filtering IMEI/IMSI pairs. Some operators ( see example from Vimpelcom Group subsidiary Kartel) report DM activity of 50 over-the-air settings update files per second.

Mobile content provisioning

This refers to delivering mobile content, such as mobile internet to a mobile phone, agnostic of the features of said device. These may include operating system type and versions, Java version, browser version, screen form factors, audio capabilities, language settings and a plethora of other characteristics. As of April 2006, an estimated 5000 permutations are relevant. Mobile content provisioning facilitates a common user experience, though delivered on widely different handsets.

Internet access provisioning

When getting a user / customer online, beyond user provisioning and network provisioning, the client system must be configured. This process may includes many steps, depending on the connection technology in question (DSL, Cable, Fibre, etc.). The possible steps are:

  • modem configuration
  • authentication with network
  • install drivers
  • setup Wireless LAN
  • secure operating system (primarily for Windows only)
  • configure browser provider-specifics
  • e-mail provisioning (create mailboxes and aliases)
  • e-mail configuration in client systems
  • install additional support software
  • install add-on packages purchased by the customer
  • etc.

There are four approaches to provisioning an internet access:

  • Hand out manuals. Manuals are a great help for experienced users, but inexperienced users will need to call the support hotline several times until all internet services are accessible. Every unintended change in the configuration, by user mistake or due to a software error, results in additional calls.
  • On-site setup by a technician. Sending a technician on-site is the most reliable approach from the provider’s point of view, as the person ensures that the internet access is working, before leaving the customer’s premises. This advantage comes at high costs – either for the provider or the customer, depending on the business model. Furthermore it is inconvenient for customers, as they have to wait until they get an installation appointment and because they need to take a day off from work. For repairing an internet connection on-site or phone support will be needed again.
  • Server-side remote setup. Server-side modem configuration uses a protocol called TR-069. It is widely established and reliable. At the current stage it can only be used for modem configuration. Protocol extensions are discussed, but not yet practically implemented, particularly because most client devices and applications do not support them yet. All other steps of the provisioning process are left to the user, typically causing lots of rather long calls to the support hotline.
  • Installation CD. Also called a “client-side self-service installation” CD, it can cover the entire process from modem configuration to setting up client applications, including home networking devices. The software typically acts autonomously, i.e. it doesn’t need an online connection and an expensive backend infrastructure. During such an installation process the software usually also install diagnosis and self-repair applications that support customers in case of problems, avoiding costly hotline calls. Such client-side applications also open completely new possibilities for marketing, cross- and up-selling. Such solutions come from highly specialised companies or directly from the provider’s development department.

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Global Title (GT) Translation

Global Title (GT) is an address used in the SCCP protocol for routing signaling messages on telecommunications networks. In theory, a global title is a unique address which refers to only one destination, though in practice destinations can change over time.

The Global Title is similar in purpose on the PSTN to the host name on the internet. In design, however, global titles are quite different. The structure is usually hierarchical, the value can be of variable length, and is not necessarily a wholly numeric value—though it often is for issues of backwards compatibility and association with regular telephone numbers.

Structure of the global title value

The structure of a global title for ITU-T applications is officially defined in ITU-T Recommendation Q.713, and further extended in the supporting numbering plan standards. Other national variants of Signalling Connection Control Part (SCCP), such as the American National Standards Institute variant specified in ANSI T1.112/2000, define their own format for the Global Title. The value of a global title is a sequence of attributes which modify the address value. To summarize:

Global Title Format

A global title can be in a variety of formats, most of which are each defined in separate standards. The format parameter indicates which of the available formats are in use. Each format can include any of the subsequent parameters.

Numbering Plan Indicator

The Numbering Plan Indicator (NPI) describes which numbering plan will be used for the global title. The numbering plan chosen will aid the routing system in determining the correct network system to direct the message.

Type of Number

The Type of Number (TON) or Nature of Address Indicator (NAI) parameter, which is of relevance to E.164 (regular telephone) numbers for example, indicates the scope of the address value, such as whether it is an international number (i.e. including the country code), a “national” or domestic number (i.e. without country code), and other formats such as “local” format (e.g. in the U.S., without an area code).

Translation Type

The translation type (TT) parameter is used in a network to indicate the preferred method of global title analysis (see below). Normally in European networks, this parameter is set to 0 (the default) value. In North American mobile networks, different translation types are used for analysis of the IMSI and for messages between telephone systems. This parameter is valuable in complex routing problems, where the same number has to be routed differently depending on the circumstances, such as those introduced by number portability resolution.

Global title translation

Global title translation is the SS7 equivalent to IP routing. Translation examines the destination address (e.g. the number being called) and decides how to identify it over the telephone network. This process can include global title analysis, which is the act of looking up the number and finding a result address, and global title modification.

It is possible for the result of Global Title Translation to be Route on SSN. This means that, instead of the Global Title routing, lower level MTP routing will be used for this message from this point on. Equivalently, in a system using SS7 over IP (for example, SIGTRAN), the result from Global Title Translation may be to a route to an IP server, though the exact details depend greatly on which variant of SS7 over IP is being used.[1]

Global Title Analysis

Global Title Analysis together with Global Title Translation. The situation in this case is somewhat complicated by the additional parameters possible in the global title. Each set of parameter values (TT=0 NP=E.164, TON=INT) can be treated separately from each other one (TT=0 NP=E.214, TON=INT). This means that, instead of one single table, we potentially need a separate table for each possible set of values.

The variable length of the global title makes certain optimisations that can be used in IP routing are not so easy to use here. The number analysis of a Global Title is most often done in a tree structure. This allows reasonably efficient analysis to any depth which is chosen.

In the end, global title analysis gives some result. The exact possibilities vary from system to system, is sometimes called an “action” or is integrated into the analysis table.

The destination would typically be given as a signalling point code in an MTP network, but could also be an IP system if we are using SS7 over IP[2]

Routing Structure

The most commonly used numbering plans for global title routing are E.164 and E.214 (although E.212 is also common in America). These simply look like telephone numbers. That is to say, in the most common, international, variant there is a country code at the start of the number and a Network Code immediately following the country code. Beyond that is the subscriber number ormobile subscriber identity number, though even that may be divided into sections. This structure allows for the use of hierarchical routing.

  • international SCCP gateways know which systems handle each of the other countries
  • the international SCCP gateway belonging to each country knows which SCCP gateways handle each network
  • the SCCP gateway of each network knows the networks own internal structure

In America, the limitations of the North American Number Plan mean that the destination country is not immediately obvious from the called party address. However, the fact that there is unified administration means that this can be overcome by having complete analysis at every point where it is needed.

Global Title Modification

In Global Title Translation it is quite normal that at some point the Global Title will have to be changed. This happens, for example, as GSM mobility management messages enter and leave networks in America. In America, typically most routing of mobility management messages for all mobile networks is done using the E.212 (IMSI) number. In international networks, E.214 is always used.

At the boundary incoming toward America (this can mean the Signaling Transfer Point at the edge of the American operator’s network), numbers routed from European networks are converted from E.214 numbers into E.212 numbers. In the outgoing direction, from America toward the rest of the world, are converted from E.212 numbers into E.214 numbers.

Global Title Routing in Mobile Networks

In mobile networks, there are database queries such as “how can I tell if this subscriber is really who he says he is” (MAP_Send_Authentication_Info) which have to be routed back to the database which holds the subscriber’s information (the HLR, or in this case, the AUC).

Unfortunately, at the time the subscriber first arrives, we don’t know which HLR is the subscriber’s HLR. For this reason, the queries have to be routed on the subscriber’s identity (IMSI) is used to generate the called party address in the message. How this is done depends whether we are in world area 1 (North America) or somewhere else.

There are three types of GT in use in mobile networks known as E.164 (MSISDN), E.212(IMSI) and E.214(MGT):[3]

  • E.164(MSISDN) = CC+NDC+SN, e.g. 91-98-71405178
  • E.212(IMSI) = MCC+MNC+MSIN, e.g. 404-68-6600620186 (MTNL delhi)
  • E.214(MGT) = combination of E.212 and E.164 (Exact combination is defined in the operators IR21 document)

Mobile Global Title Routing (Except North America)

Everywhere in the world, except North America, the subscriber’s IMSI is converted to a Mobile Global Title (MGT) E.214 number. See the entry about the IMSI for more details. The E.214 number has a structure which is similar to the E.164 number, and, except in a mobile network it can be routed identically. This means that the same routing tables can be used for both and means considerably reduced administrative overhead in maintaining the tables.

Once a signalling message with an E.214 number enters a mobile network in its own country, the routing is dependent on the operator of that mobile network. In networks without number portability, it is normal that the MSIN has a structure and that, by analysing the first few digits we can further route the message to the right element.

IMSI Routing (North America)

In World Area 1 (corresponding to North America) ANSI SCCP is in use. In this case, due to North American standards, the routing of mobility related messages must be done with the E.212 number directly. This has the advantage that in it is easier to identify to which country messages should be routed based on the mobile country code. The design of the North American Number Plan means that there is not a separate country code for each country in North America. Working with E.214 numbers would not be an insurmountable challenge, as can be seen from the fact that routing of phone calls using E.164 numbers is normal, but it would mean adding full E.164 routing tables to signalling transfer points where it has never been needed before.

That is the simplest way to search the destination.

Routing of mobility messages on the ANSI / ITU Boundary

Where a signalling message travels from North America to the rest of the world or from the rest of the world to North America, there must be a conversion done from E.212 based global title toE.214 based global title. This conversion is reasonably simple, well defined and fully reversible. The conversion is not totally simple since each individual network must be listed.

Recommendation E.214 has been interpreted as suggesting that the analysis of the Mobile Country Code (MCC) and Mobile Network Code (MNC) should be done separately. The relationship between the MNC and the Network Code (NC), however, varies from country to country as does the length of the MNC (two or three digits). This means that the analysis of the MNC is dependent on the analysis of the MCC, or alternatively that the analysis must be done for all five or six digits at once (which is how it is done in practise across at least five separate switch vendors).


Outbound from America:

Please note the truncation of the number by one digit since E.214 numbers, as with E.164 numbers, have a maximum length of 15 digits.

Inbound toward America:

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