Provisioning is the act of adding access to and allocating resources to end users and their file transfer workflows.  It is often used interchangeably with the term “onboarding“.

The act of provisioning should always be audited, and the audit information should include the identity of the person who authorized the act and any technical actions the system took to provision the user.

Most file transfer servers today allow administrators to chain up to Active Directory (AD), LDAP or RADIUS or other external authentication to allow centralized management (and thus provisioning) of authentication and access.  However, provisioning of customer-specific workflows is often a manual procedure unless standard workflows are associated with provisioning groups.

Automated provisioning of users through import capabilities, APIs and/or web services is a competitive differentiator across different file transfer servers, and varies widely from “just establish credentials”, through “also configure access” and on to “also configure workflows”.

Use of external authentication usually makes migration from one file transfer technology to another much easier than when proprietary credential databases are in use.  When external authentication is in use, end users usually do not need to reset their current passwords.  However,when proprietary credential databases from two different vendors (or sometimes two different products from the same vendor) are involved, it is common that every end user will have to change his or her password during migration.

BEST PRACTICE: Whenever possible, implementers of file transfer technology should use an external authentication source to control access and privileges of end users.  When an external authentication source is used to control authentication in this manner, provisioning on the file transfer server can occur at any moment after the user is created or enabled on the central authentication server.

See also “deprovisioning” and “onboarding“.