Home » Blog » A Brief Introduction to Zero-Touch Provisioning

Another day, another deployment. Business is good and you’re scaling fast to keep up. This means opening more data centers, branch offices, and retail locations. Large or small, each deployment takes careful planning and coordination to pull off successfully, all while meeting strict deadlines. 

One of the first things to consider when deploying a new site is how to safely deliver all of the equipment to the final location. There are typically two options:

Zero Touch Provisioning

Pre-configuring in-house offers the advantage of using local staff to perform the initial configurations and upgrades which can reduce additional travel expenses and overtime pay. This also allows for an almost plug-and-play deployment once the equipment arrives at the new location. The downside to this method is the heightened security risk incurred when shipping anything with sensitive data.

Shipping equipment with factory default settings eliminates the security risk, but places the burden of configuring and provisioning entirely on the remote staff. This can equate to higher travel expenses and additional overtime pay, not to mention reduced staff back home. 

Regardless of the method chosen, both still share the time consuming and boring task of physically connecting to each appliance via console, setting the configuration (typically done by pasting from a template), and updating the software. More equipment requires more time and resources, and also increases the likelihood of a mistake being made. So, is there a better way? 

Introducing Zero Touch Provisioning (ZTP)

ZTP is a feature that automates the building process (configuration and provisioning) of network hardware and applications. This is typically achieved by pointing devices to a local configuration repository where they can retrieve the required settings. With ZTP, IT professionals can drastically reduce the amount of time consuming labor that comes with manual configuration, which frees up more resources that can be dedicated to other tasks. Since settings are managed and provisioned from the cloud via templates, engineers may even perform configurations and updates from remote locations (once basic racking and network connectivity are established at the new location). 

The Right Tools Make All the Difference

While ZTP can greatly improve deployments by reducing costs, errors, and time, having the right tool can offer even more benefits. ZPE Systems Nodegrid can take your ZTP project to the next level by keeping everything open and flexible. For devices with built-in ZTP features, Nodegrid can leverage various capabilities such as SSH to serial console and may also serve as the local configuration repository. Even if your devices do not have built in ZTP support, Nodegrid can still store, deploy, and archive configurations that will allow you to bring all of your devices online fast and with ease. 

Nodegrid also offers full 4G/LTE cellular connectivity so you can deploy from anywhere via ZPE Cloud, even without having local connectivity configured. With Nodegrid, you can eliminate worry and reduce security concerns by shipping bare-metal devices that do not contain any sensitive data. Once your devices arrive, are racked and connected, simply use ZPE Cloud to download and run all of your automated scripts. Provisioning is automatic, consistent, and error free which save you time and money. Learn more about what goes into ZTP.

Ready to Take Your Next Deployment to the Next Level? 

Download the Definitive Guide to Zero Touch Provisioning.

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