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BT picks Google for public cloud transformation

BT HQ One Braham logo

UK incumbent BT has become the latest big name to buddy-up with a hyperscaler to overhaul its operations.

The five-year deal announced on Thursday will see BT tap Google Cloud for a broad suite of products and services, including cloud infrastructure, machine learning (ML) and AI, data analytics, security and API management. The aim is to accelerate BT’s digital transformation, and by extension improve the customer experience, unlock new revenue streams, and lower costs and risk.

BT says that rolling out AI and ML across the organisation will ultimately enable its customers to make more data-led decisions, and will give BT the means to offer highly-personalised customer engagement and propositions.

The Google Cloud partnership will be overseen by BT’s Digital unit, which was set up in January and put in charge of the telco’s innovation strategy.

“Our partnership with Google is one of a series of strategic moves that BT Digital is taking to help accelerate BT’s growth and digital transformation,” said Harmeen Mehta, BT’s chief digital and innovation officer, in a statement. “This is a partnership that is deeper than just at the technology level. It will help Digital as a whole supercharge BT and drive its return to growth.”

Google Cloud will also provide BT with access to its Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) team, whose aim is to help BT roll out autonomous operations and adopt a culture of continuous innovation. It all sounds very fluffy, but what it boils down to is equipping BT with the tools and expertise needed to rapidly develop new, highly-tailored cloud-based services for business and consumer customers.

“By deploying our full cloud capabilities, and support from our SRE organisation, our goal in this partnership is to set up BT with the tools it needs for future growth and innovation,” said Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian.

BT said work has already begun to adopt Google Cloud technology, and it plans to complete the bulk of the data migration by next year.

The partnership represents another significant milestone in public cloud adoption by telcos, which are increasingly working with hyperscalers not just to resell a bunch of their products to their own customers, but to upgrade their own networks, develop new services, and overhaul their go-to-market strategies.

Just last week, Finland’s Elisa expanded its existing partnership with Google Cloud to tap its infrastructure, storage, data analytics and hybrid cloud management services. They will form the basis for new AI tools, edge computing projects and cloud-based network assurance and automation functions. Other recent highlights include Telefónica Tech establishing a global public cloud partnership with Oracle, Telenor doing deals with both Amazon Web Services (AWS) as well as Google Cloud, and Verizon launching its private edge compute platform on Microsoft Azure. In some cases telcos are also partnering with hyperscalers to migrate their networks to the public cloud, with notable names including Dish Network and AT&T.

According to recent Gartner predictions, by 2025, more than half of global enterprise IT spending – which equates to around $917 billion – will go on public cloud solutions. The forecast therefore is cloudy, but for telcos the message is clear: partner now to capture a chunk of this value.


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