AUTOMATED CONFIGURATION OF NETWORK DEVICES REMOTELY.
SD-WAN, 5G and IoT in particular have contributed to a change in the network infrastructure of companies in recent years. In the course of this, the number of edge devices to be integrated is increasing massively and steadily. However, the need to have an IT person on site perform each device configuration costs time and money. Zero Touch Provisioning (ZTP) now makes it possible to configure new and existing network devices remotely.
WHAT IS ZERO TOUCH PROVISIONING?
Zero Touch Provisioning is a basic function that makes it possible to configure so-called edge devices (intelligent end devices) within the company network remotely – without human intervention on site. Compared to this automated configuration, local, manual configurations are significantly more time-consuming and cost-intensive.
ZTP makes it possible to simply send a new or replacement device to the site. On site, a local employee without IT knowledge can physically install and switch on the device. ZTP is then used to configure the device and connect it to the management system.
There is currently no common standard describing exactly what is meant by the term “zero touch provisioning”. Even though the concept is already being used in practice and will gain importance very quickly in the future (SD-WAN, 5G, IoT), the definition of the term is still under development. This is due, for example, to the fact that there are not only many different providers on the market for smart end devices, but also for the so-called network services (NFV functions). As the variety of technical products and functionalities increases, so does the number of vendors, whose approaches to solutions may in turn differ.
ZERO TOUCH PROVISIONING AND NETWORK FUNCTIONS VIRTUALIZATION (NFV)
In the course of cloudification and internationalization, the network infrastructure increasingly requires faster and more dynamic responses. Both ZTP and NFV support this evolution. While Zero Touch Provisioning describes the basic possibility of automated configuration from a distance, depending on the ZTP solution offered and if an intelligent SD-WAN platform is available, additional services/features can be booked, activated or licensed on the end device or from the cloud using NFV. These include, for example, the following network functions: Firewall, WAN optimizer, antivirus functions, etc.
ADVANTAGES OF ZERO TOUCH PROVISIONING
1. Automated and fast
A key advantage of ZTP is the automation and associated speed with which changes can be made to the corporate network. Especially if the company locations are distributed nationally/internationally and one wants to do without on-site IT resources.
2. Transparent and clear
Zero Touch Provisioning reduces the complexity of the network infrastructure. This is particularly important in view of the fact that today’s networks have to be able to handle more and more functions, which increases the complexity and number of end devices within the network. Because with the help of ZTP, you can bundle many or even all features within one device. Which in turn can then be configured remotely. This creates significantly more transparency and overview in the network.
3. Less effort
ZTP significantly reduces the expenditure of IT resources. For example, in the case of a national and/or international roll-out of many end devices. This is because ZTP compensates for a lack of IT expertise at the remote sites. The on-site deployment of a qualified IT technician is then no longer necessary. And in general, the time-consuming monitoring and administration of the network landscape is significantly simplified and accelerated with the help of ZTP.
Together, the above advantages contribute to significant cost savings: IT resources are conserved and time is saved.
Especially against the background of the changing network landscape, ZTP with its advantages will gain in importance in the future. Even today, hardly any SD-WAN project is conceivable without Zero Touch Provisioning. Anyone who converts their corporate network to SD-WAN and NFV functionalities will inevitably come into contact with ZTP. ZTP pays off especially if you frequently need to install/administer devices at remote locations without local IT staff.