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January 31, 2023updated 01 Feb 2023 4:57pm

BT moves mainframe services to the cloud in deal with Kyndryl

The telco is working to retire, redevelop and re-host its services to cut costs and reduce mainframe usage.

By Ryan Morrison

BT is switching some of its mainframe applications to the cloud as part of a partnership with IBM spin-ff Kyndryl. The extended partnership will see applications servicing BT’s legacy copper business and its consumer broadband products moved into the cloud.

BT is working with Kyndryl to switch legacy applications from mainframes to the cloud (Photo: chrisdorney/Shutterstock)
BT is working with Kyndryl to switch legacy applications from mainframes to the cloud. (Photo by chrisdorney/Shutterstock)

BT operates a number of older products including copper broadband, phone lines and other consumer broadband products that rely on older applications running on energy-intensive mainframes. As part of wider digital transformation efforts the company is moving more of its platform onto the cloud but these legacy products are complex and can’t be easily shut down.

As part of a ten-year partnership with Kyndryl, BT will move these mainframe applications to the cloud in a project that is expected to allow the telco to cut its mainframe operating costs by up to 70% thanks to lower energy consumption levels. This is expected to be worth about £17m a year by 2026.

Kyndryl already operates the BT mainframe estate and will lead the transition efforts over the next three years. Some applications will be retired, others refactored and those that can’t be changed will be rehosted and repackaged to operate in a cloud environment.

“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,” said Harmeen Mehta, chief digital and innovation officer at BT Group. “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.” 

BT’s digital transformation

BT aims to have fewer than 500 strategic systems by 2027 as part of its digital transformation efforts. This will include simplifying its technology estate, merging systems that perform similar tasks and retiring those applications and services not required.

Moving legacy applications into the cloud will allow BT to develop more flexible APIs and micro-services that will allow them to be more easily integrated with other parts of the technology estates, the company explained. It will also “drive innovation through automation, while lowering costs.”

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Making the change will also reduce the risk of downtime as it will be integrated into its management platform and self-healing IT estate model. This will “enhance other applications’ ability to call on data and capabilities within the mainframe applications,” the company believes.

BT says the change, and ability to integrate with automated systems will make it easier to “support customers with the migration to modern fibre services as the legacy copper networks are retired in the years ahead.”

“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,” explained Petra Goude, global practice leader, core enterprise & zCloud, at Kyndryl.

Read more: Kyndryl SAP partnership is bid to boost cloud relevance

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