Zero Touch Provisioning is a method that can be implemented in different types of businesses, whereby the implementation of some technological parts of their limited ecosystem is optimally solved through the use of automated processes generally based on software and communications between devices.
In short, administrators of these technologies now have a sophisticated tool to make the process of provisioning them easier. This tool is Zero Touch Provisionning – ZTP, and here we will discuss some of the key features that have made it a must-have for many of today’s businesses.
Zero Touch Provisioning
Zero Touch Provisioning (ZTP) allows you to execute certain activities regardless of business size and geography as long as there is an active connection between the ZTP system and the device or technology asset in question. Some of the activities that fall under Zero Touch Provisioning include:
Setting up company equipment – both individually and on a mass scale. As with any new site, infrastructure, or opening or migration of premises, devices must be installed and set up. For obvious reasons, it is not possible to automate the task of physically installing the devices, but ZTP can be used to automate the tasks of loading software and configuring features for such equipment.
Mass firmware and/or operating system upgrades of company devices. Any router, switch, firewall, controller, server, or any other hardware technological entity, includes software that changes over time as a result of improvements, new features, or bug fixing. This must be loaded onto the ecosystem’s existing devices. These devices have been provisioned and are functioning normally, but need to be brought up to the current state of the art as soon as possible. ZTP makes this possible.
Remote or mass individual configurations
A site, or groups of sites, may require ad hoc changes to the configuration of features due to business casuistry. ZTP makes reconfiguring devices quick and easy.
Scaling up of businesses and a consequent expansion of devices
Expanding businesses and the ensuing expansion of devices. Devices are installed and operating normally in the business ecosystem, but the business is growing and with it, its technological assets – which also need to be in full working order. ZTP optimizes this process.
All of the above activities add to business efficiency whenever ZTP is used.
The advantages of using ZTP include:
- Reduced need for on-site manual intervention
- Fewer opportunities for human error
- Vastly lower operating costs
- Optimized time to get devices up and running
- Does not require lots of specific technical skills
- Independent of geographic deployment footprint and volume of deployed devices
The overall cost reduction for these activities when compared with the option of not benefiting from ZTP is overwhelming. Therefore, businesses must inevitably embrace the use of ZTP whenever possible if they are to keep up with the competition.
ZTP constitutes a radical change
ZTP means a huge change for company IT and system admin departments. It makes provisioning and updating technological assets super easy and reduces many of the operational risks mentioned above. Of course, there are lots of different ZTP systems on the market and various factors need to be carefully considered before choosing the right option for your business. Factors to consider include:
Security between the ZTP system and the devices
It is imperative that the communications between the ZTP system and the device are secure, since these communications can become a critical vulnerability in the event of an intrusion.
If the ZTP system comes with additional device management features, the control process can be completely independent of the operation of the device. In other words, if the connection between the device and the system hosting the ZTP service is lost, or if the system itself momentarily stops working, the device will continue to operate normally. This feature – where the the control (management) and data (user data) planes of a device are separated – is typically called “Out of band data plane”.
A multi-tenant approach is interesting for operator provisioning systems, as it allows the operator to manage the network topology of multiple customers from one ZTP system.
A remote ZTP system can provision, update and configure devices anywhere in the world, as long as there’s an Internet connection.
If possible, a GUI with some sort of engine for generating configurations can further streamline processes and reduce the technical skills required to manage devices.
Finally, in the field of customer premises communications equipment (CPEs), this configuration generation engine can come with other additional functional elements within a more sophisticated system (than the ZTP system) to achieve an extraordinary service level as occurs, for example, with SD-WAN.
Teldat implements ZTP – Zero Touch Provisioning in its be.Manager solution. This solution is the top layer of Teldat’s complete SD-WAN service, in addition to defining elements of the SD-WAN installation (such as device inventory, templates for mass configurations, user access and features).