I'm reading this article and they wrote:

After the identity is created, the credentials are provisioned onto the instance.

What I understand is that the credentials will be given to then instance and when I looked up provision I've ended up at:

something provided;

the providing or supplying of something, especially of food or other necessities.

So what is the difference between provided and provisioned? Can't we say

After the identity is created, the credentials are provided onto the instance.

And have the same meaning?

2 Answers 2


We are in the IT domain where specialist terminology is used. To my eyes the phrase in question is slightly odd, but acceptable in an IT context.

The general concept of supplying credentials is frequently referred to as provisioning. See this article as a random example. In my experience we would say:

Oh, I've nearly finished, just a bit of provisioning to do now ...

We would not use provide or its derivitives in this way.

In this environment where provisioning is widely understood,

the credentials are provisioned onto the instance

we might say

the instance is provisioned with the credential

but I'm not sure it's better. In the mind of the person doing the job they have created a set of credentials and are applying them to the instance, rather like attaching a bit to a drill; the focus is selecting the right implement, the credentials, so that dominates the phrase.

  • So you'd say that "attached to" is the underlying meaning?
    – TimR
    Oct 22, 2018 at 11:29
  • Yes, but with the additional possibility that the same credential might also be applied to other similar servers.
    – djna
    Oct 22, 2018 at 14:31

The author there is using language rather freely. The verb provisioned onto doesn't really exist in English. The verb provision is transitive, taking a direct object and an optional prepositional phrase introduced by with:

Headquarters provisioned the rescue team with food, blankets, and satellite radios.

In this context, where a computing object is supplied to a class instance which presumably then encapsulates that object, there is really no meaningful difference between provided to and supplied to or even sent to. I don't see what the preposition onto adds to our understanding, and it is not idiomatic with that verb.

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