BT cloud migration rumbles on with Kyndryl

UK incumbent BT has kicked off its latest cloud-migration programme as part of its ongoing digital transformation.

Nick Wood

February 1, 2023

3 Min Read
BT Tower framed by decorative lamp post
AFW8EW BT Tower framed by decorative lamp post

UK incumbent BT has kicked off its latest cloud-migration programme as part of its ongoing digital transformation.

The telco is working with Kyndryl to move a number of applications servicing its legacy copper business and consumer broadband products from mainframe computers to the cloud. BT said these are critical applications that cannot be shut down in the short term. However, it would prefer not to have to maintain its creaking big iron either, so it is embarking on an ambitious plan to transfer them onto modern cloud infrastructure.

BT and Kyndryl reckon the migration will reduce mainframe operating costs and energy consumption by 70%, generating annual savings of £17 million by the time the project is due to wrap up in 2026.

Given these applications support BT’s legacy copper business, which is slowly but surely being phased out, it makes sense to host them in the cloud and reduce the amount of storage and compute resources they consume as the switch-off progresses. It’s probably no coincidence that the migration is due to be completed by 2026, the same year that BT expects to reach its FTTH rollout target of 25 million premises. BT doubtless hopes that by then it will only need to service a small minority of customers with its copper network.

The migration falls within the remit of BT Digital. Led by chief digital and innovation officer Harmeen Mehta, the division is tasked with overseeing the telco’s digital transformation.

“We like thinking out of the box to solve complex problems – like how to move off mainframes given the prohibitive increase in legacy infrastructure cost – without rewriting decades-old applications,” she said in a statement on Tuesday. “With that mindset, working with Kyndryl, we figured out how to turn legacy mainframes into modern digital apps and run them at a fraction of the cost.”

As well as saving money, BT claims migrating these legacy applications will unlock additional value because the data they contain can underpin new micro-services, and feed into other back office systems like BT’s service management platform. The data will also support BT’s AI-powered, ‘self-healing’ IT systems, which is designed to reduce downtime, and accelerate and automate fault fixing.

“Migrating from mainframes to cloud extends the usefulness and lifespan of these applications in a modern, micro-services led, cloud-centric way and helps unlock intelligent data insights,” said Petra Goude, global practice leader of core enterprise and zCloud at Kyndryl.

Tuesday’s news marks the third significant cloud migration project announced by BT Digital since the division’s inception in January 2021.

Last May, BT drafted in Amazon Web Services (AWS) to help with its ongoing modernisation programme. Doing away with legacy apps and infrastructure in favour of modern, hosted equivalents is expected to generate £2 billion in annual savings by 2024, said BT at the time.

Just two months earlier, BT Digital tapped up Google Cloud for a whole host of products and services, including cloud infrastructure, machine learning (ML) and AI, data analytics, security, and API management.


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About the Author(s)

Nick Wood

Nick is a freelancer who has covered the global telecoms industry for more than 15 years. Areas of expertise include operator strategies; M&As; and emerging technologies, among others. As a freelancer, Nick has contributed news and features for many well-known industry publications. Before that, he wrote daily news and regular features as deputy editor of Total Telecom. He has a first-class honours degree in journalism from the University of Westminster.

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