BT selects Google Cloud for group-wide data and AI transformation

In line with the theme of telcos partnering with cloud giants, UK incumbent BT has announced a new five-year deal with Google Cloud.  The objective is to leverage Google’s AI and cloud expertise to foster a new company culture BT calls ‘The Digital Way.’  The partnership will include a wide range of products and services, including cloud infrastructure, machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics, security, and API management.  In particular:

  • Collaboration will involve BT using Google’s enhanced data and AI capabilities at every level of its business to deliver personalised customer experiences and continue its commitment to creating societal value through responsible, inclusive, and sustainable tech
  • Google Cloud will support BT with a full spectrum of products and services, from secure cloud infrastructure to advanced machine learning tools
  • Access to Google Cloud’s Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) experts will help drive the cultural change needed to enable BT to operate a data and AI platform in the cloud at scale


Image of Google Cloud.  Source: Google

The work will be overseen by BT Digital, a new arm of the business created last year and headed up by BT’s Chief Digital and Innovation Officer, Harmeen Mehta.

“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. 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,” said Mehta.  She then wrote on LinkedIn, “Delighted with this fantastic partnership with Google Cloud as we accelerate the BT digital transformation.”

As part of the deal, Google’s Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) team will also partner with BT to help the operator roll out autonomous operations and develop new cloud-based services for customers.

“We’re proud to collaborate with one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and play an integral part in its digital transformation journey,”said Thomas Kurian, CEO at Google Cloud.

“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,” he added.

Google and BT have already started working together on adopting Google technology, and plan to complete the core migration of data by 2023.

Other telco’s have partnered with Google Cloud:

  • Late last month, Finnish telco Elisa also announced its own partnership with Google Cloud into its hybrid cloud offering.
  • Last November, Telenor and Google Cloud formed a partnership to digitalize the Norwegian telecom company’s global operations and are exploring ways to jointly offer services to customers
  • In February 2021, Canadian telco Telus and Google Cloud signed a 10-year collaboration deal to help fuel Telus’ internal digital transformation while also jointly developing new products and services.
  • In November 2019, Telecom Italia and Google Cloud formed a partnership that will enable TIM to expand its portfolio of public, private and hybrid cloud services and to offer edge computing services


One thought on “BT selects Google Cloud for group-wide data and AI transformation

  1. TelecomTV comments:

    The question is often asked about how telco teams will learn cloud native processes and adapt to software-oriented, data-driven and cloud-based ways of working – for BT Digital, the answer is that it’s going to be trained by the folks at Google Cloud. BT has already started the process and aims to have migrated its data onto Google Cloud by 2023.

    Of course, none of this comes cheap, but just how much this will eat into BT’s coffers is unknown, as neither party is revealing any financial details. Also unknown is what this means for the shape and size of the BT Digital team. Telcos often argue that adopting new agile, cloud native processes that enable greater automation will make them more efficient, but not necessarily lead to job losses: And that’s the case here, as BT says it does not expect this relationship to result in any job losses. But the BT team might take some persuading that this is indeed the case, so Mehta has a big task now to calm the BT Digital ranks and communicate just how things will change without people needing to be worried about their livelihoods.

    Whatever the impact or outcome, there’s little doubt that this is the way to go for traditional telcos – the hyperscalers such as Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure have the hardware, software and know-how that CSPs need in order to become DSPs (digital service providers), especially when it comes to data processing, analysis and the introduction of automated processes: We can expect BT Digital to also announce partnerships with AWS and Azure in the future too, though BT says it doesn’t have anything to share on this front just now.

    And for Google Cloud, the deal is another telco feather in its hat. In the past week alone it has announced relationships with: Middle East telco Ooredoo to “further advance [its] digital offerings”; Finnish operator Elisa, to jointly develop new services and further develop the telco’s digital operations; and Bell Canada, which is integrating Google Distributed Cloud Edge in its network. It has plenty of other relationships in the telecoms and there are sure to be many more to come.

    – Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

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