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March 27, 1988

OPEN SYSTEMS NEEDS TRIGGERS YET ANOTHER RETHINK FOR BRITISH TELECOM CUSTOMER SERVICES

By CBR Staff Writer

British Telecommunications Plc’s problematic Customer Services System project to site regional centres to handle its dealings with telecommunications users around the country is having to undergo yet another reappraisal. The latest rethink has been triggered by the realisation that the scope of the project has overspilled the means of one database, and Telecom now expects a number of applications to be hived off onto separate machines. But with the main database running on IBM 3090 and compatible Amdahl mainframes and additional applications hosted by ICL and DEC kit, Telecom is now faced by the problem of incompatability between different Customer Service functions. As a result, it has decided that the systems should perhaps implement the Open Systems Interconnection standards. The news comes shortly after the European Community directive that all public authorities within the Community base future procurements on the Open Systems standards, but Telecom says that its new review of the Customer Services project was not influenced by this. The project is an ambitious plan to provide all customer-related services from one system and is described by Telecom as the world’s biggest civil computing project, with costs running to several hundred million pounds. The project has been beset by difficulties from the outset and this belated decision to use international standards could mean further delays and will certainly add to the total cost. Telecom says it is looking at this question but could not say whether any new contracts would be put out for tender. Parts of the system are running in South Wales, Thameswey, Liverpool, East Midlands, and the North East is due to go live April 5.

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