A provider is an implementation of a feature store using specific feature store components (e.g. offline store, online store) targeting a specific environment (e.g. GCP stack).
Providers orchestrate various components (offline store, online store, infrastructure, compute) inside an environment. For example, the gcp provider supports BigQuery as an offline store and Datastore as an online store, ensuring that these components can work together seamlessly. Feast has three built-in providers (local, gcp, and aws) with default configurations that make it easy for users to start a feature store in a specific environment. These default configurations can be overridden easily. For instance, you can use the gcp provider but use Redis as the online store instead of Datastore.
If the built-in providers are not sufficient, you can create your own custom provider. Please see this guide for more details.