Now BT Digital taps AWS for IT efficiencies

Ray Le Maistre
By Ray Le Maistre

May 4, 2022

  • BT’s Digital division has struck a five-year deal with Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  • AWS will be BT Digital’s ‘preferred cloud provider’ for internal applications
  • Move is part of a broader ‘modernisation programme’
  • Announcement comes only weeks after a major agreement announced with Google Cloud

Harmeen Mehta, BT’s Chief Digital and Innovation Officer, is good to her word: Five months after telling TelecomTV that “almost all of future BT is going to run on the cloud and a big part of that is going to be on the public cloud,” the UK operator’s Digital division has struck five-year deals with both Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud that signal a new era at the British telco.

The Google Cloud deal was announced in late March and was focused on the use of the hyperscaler’s data analytics and AI/machine learning services and tools, as well as the introduction of a new operational culture (to be known as ‘The Digital Way’) that will be focused heavily on continuous development and automated processes. (See BT embraces ‘The Digital Way’ with Google Cloud.)

Now BT Digital has announced a deal that makes AWS the operator’s ‘preferred cloud provider’ for internal applications, which BT aims to migrate from legacy on-premises infrastructure to run on what it calls a “new cloud-first architecture.” BT highlights in its announcement that the move “represents a dramatic simplification from the company’s current IT estate, and is designed to be cloud-native, microservices-based, and fully modular.”  

The operator believes the move will help speed up its efforts to “build and innovate faster on a new suite of digital products and services and reduce costs in IT maintenance.” BT notes the move is part of a broader modernisation programme that aims to deliver £2 billion in annual savings by the end of the operator’s financial year 2024, which ends in March of that year. 

The move reflects the trends and aspirations of the global telco community when it comes to the use of public cloud platforms to improve operational processes and exploit potential efficiencies: Network operators have long identified their internal IT systems and processes as ripe for transformation, have been seeking ways to make better use of the vast volumes of data produced by their systems and the use of their services, and have known their day-to-day processes and working cultures need to become more cloud-oriented, and the AWS and Google Cloud deals directly address these requirements. 

The announcement of the deals come about a year after Mehta joined BT with a mission to transform the telco’s IT operations and enable digital innovation, so the Digital chief and her team have clearly been busy assessing which cloud platforms can deliver the optimum results for certain processes and applications and striking the appropriate deals. In the scheme of things, getting that work done in one year is pretty good going for an organization as complex as BT.

Now telco cloud watchers will be wondering if Microsoft Azure will get a major slice of the action at BT: It is already engaged with the operator, having struck a deal for cloud-hosted managed voice services last year, and, like its peers, has a number of application-specific deals with the operator, but it hasn’t yet landed a major multi-year deal similar to those struck by Google Cloud and AWS.

Of course, there’s still time, and as we know, Azure is keen to hook up with all major network operators via its Azure Operator Distributed Services platform unveiled earlier this year. (See Azure builds on AT&T’s Network Cloud, offers 5G Core solutions.)

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

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