What is Device Provisioning?

Cam Summerson
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Learn about Esper mobile device management software for Android and iOS

Provisioning is defined as the process of setting up new IT resources, either locally or in the cloud. There are many different types of provisioning, depending on the type of system being deployed — network provisioning, server provisioning, user provisioning, and device provisioning are all common examples of provisioning. 

We’ll focus on device provisioning, but the concepts apply to provisioning systems broadly. 

Provision a Device in Minutes

What does device provisioning encompass? 

In the simplest terms, device provisioning is setting up a device (like a tablet, display, sensor, or handset) to work in a specific manner. That might mean replacing the entire operating system (sometimes referred to as “imaging”) with something more specialized to provide specific functionality. In other scenarios, it could simply mean disabling (or enabling) certain features, like wireless connectivity or the device’s speaker, to fit a certain need. 

In our case, device provisioning might mean installing Foundation for Android to set up a fully locked down device to run in single-app kiosk mode. But it could also mean using a blueprint to secure a stock device for use as a retail point of sale system.

Provisioning is part of the deployment process — the collection of steps required before a device is ready for use — for distributing new hardware to end users. The first step of device provisioning is enrollment. 

What is device enrollment? Is enrollment part of provisioning?

Device enrollment is how you register a device with your particular service or organization (like your enterprise IT infrastructure) and is usually the first step in the provisioning process. The exact steps here can be a bit fuzzy, as flashing a new OS image prior to enrolling a device could be considered the first step. It’s open for interpretation (and use case). 

In MDM (Mobile Device Management) terms, enrollment is how you get the device onto the MDM’s platform so you can utilize its tools (and is sometimes referred to as “onboarding”). For Android, there are a variety of enrollment methods available, including 6-tap QR, Android for Work, Google Zero-touch enrollment, and more.

Esper provisioning methods

For example, if you want to enroll a device onto Esper using the 6-tap QR method, you first factory reset the device. On the setup screen, tapping 6 times will open the QR code scanner. You can access a QR code for the specific blueprint from within the Esper console, which you scan from the Android device. From there, the device will automatically enroll onto Esper. 

What's the difference between provisioning and configuration?

If you’ve been researching provisioning, you’ve probably also read about configuration. In many provisioning scenarios, the next step is configuration. In these situations, provisioning is the step that prepares the hardware to do the thing you want it to do, and configuration is the process that sets it all up to your specifications. You can think of it as building a new PC — provisioning is installing the operating system, while configuring is installing all of your apps and applying custom settings. 

In many provisioning scenarios, the last step of provisioning is to launch the configuration software. In our case, however, we make it much simpler. 

Is provisioning part of deployment? 

In many cases, provisioning and deployment go hand in hand. However, traditionally, provisioning is not part of deployment. Like with provisioning, there are many types of deployment — software deployment, hardware deployment, device deployment,  update deployment, etc. The broad definition of deployment is “the action of making something available for use.” 

With device deployment, that usually means physical deployment — getting the device to the site where it will be used. For software deployment, which includes updates, it means making the software available to the end user. So, for example, pushing an application or updated application to endpoints like computers or tablets. 

In some cases, provisioning can be a part of deployment, but given the broad meaning of deployment, it’s better to think of these as two separate processes. 

How Esper simplifies enrollment, provisioning, and configuration

To simplify what could otherwise be a needlessly complicated process, we combine enrollment (onboarding), provisioning, and configuration into one single step — once you start the onboarding process and the device is enrolled onto Esper, your provisioning blueprint will take over and do all the heavy lifting for you, including configuration. All you have to do is build the blueprint.

Step 1 in provisioning a device with Esper

Blueprints are simple yet dynamic starter kits for device enrollment that contain your chosen configurations, settings, and business apps. Each blueprint is auto-assigned a single QR code for the entire configuration set. Creating a blueprint takes about five minutes on average, and when you’re done, each blueprint can be reused as many times as you want. You don’t need to recreate configurations and settings for each device or download any apps to start onboarding.

By streamlining the enrollment, provisioning, and configuration processes, we were able to reduce onboarding time, avoid unnecessary app downloads, reduce repetitive actions, reduce the number of required steps, and ultimately simplify the onboarding process. To see how simple it really is, give us a try today for free — no commitment necessary.

Simplified Provisioning with Esper

More MDM Resources: 


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Cam Summerson
Cam Summerson

Cam is Esper's Director of Content and brings over 10 years of technology journalism experience to Esper, including nearly half-a-decade as Editor in Chief of a technology publication. He currently oversees the ideation, execution, and distribution plans for numerous types of content from blog posts to ebooks and beyond.

Cam Summerson
Learn about Esper mobile device management software for Android and iOS
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Esper is Modern Device Management

For tablets, smartphones, kiosks, point of sale, IoT, and other business-critical edge devices.
MDM Software
Kiosk mode icon as a feature in mobile device management software

Kiosk mode

Hardened device lockdown for all devices (not just kiosks)
App management icon as a feature in mobile device management software

App management

Google Play, Apple App Store, private apps, or a mix of all three
Devices groups icon as a feature in mobile device management software

Device groups

Manage devices individually, in user-defined groups, or all at once
Remote tools icon as a feature in mobile device management software

Remote tools

Monitor, troubleshoot, and update devices without leaving your desk
Touchless provisioning as a feature in mobile device management software

Touchless provisioning

Turn it on and walk away — let your devices provision themselves
Reporting and alerts as a feature in mobile device management software

Reporting and alerts

Custom reports and granular device alerts for managing by exception