BT, the UK’s laresgt telecoms group, has announced pre-tax profits for the last financial year up 15% to £2.49bn.
The company, which also announced it had recaptured top spot in the UK broadband market, has also revealed details of a major IT overhaul in tandem with the restructuring of its business organisation.
While many enterprises are still trying to get their heads around just what service oriented architectures (SOAs) really are, BT is nearing the end of an eight-year effort to move to an entirely SOA-based IT environment, according to George Glass, BT's chief architect.
Glass said the company is on target to have enterprise-wide SOA by 2009, capping off a shift to a services-oriented architecture that began with provisioning of the company's mainframe systems in 2001.
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He said that BT's effort is one of the largest SOA implementations in the world and is driven by a confluence of factors: a company decision to divide into separate lines of business to better serve customers, the construction of its internet protocol (IP) 21st century network (21CN) and the deregulation by Ofcom of the wholesale broadband market.
"All three of these required changes to our architecture to support them and, as we went down the road on each, we found the SOA approach satisfied each," Glass said.
BT had been experimenting with SOA since 2001, when the company first started using middleware to expose mainframe functionality as web-based services, Glass said.
BT has since expanded that effort across its entire IT infrastructure, which encompasses more than 3,500 core systems, creating something called the Matrix Platform Architecture to support the shift. Matrix ties together 14 platforms with common capabilities that are reusable, and uses standards to streamline engineering and maintenance costs.
So far, BT has identified 160 "capabilities" it needs to expose, each with between five and 15 operations. For example, a "manage customer order" capability might collect information such as customer reference numbers, time and date of order, products purchased and so on. Of those, BT has completed work and deployed 63 capabilities affecting 730 systems in the past two years.
When fully complete, the transition will make it much easier for BT to build and introduce new products and services for customers by reusing common components – say, customer identification and revenue collection – allowing BT to focus development resources just on new functionality, Glass said.