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SOA freedom from legacy system constraints
“Our systems were exploding in size and complexity. We had scant standardisation, and there was no single truth. If a core process broke we’d change it to fit the application, rather than the other way round. This was crazily expensive to maintain. It was also a big brake on speed to market.”
Phil Dance Chief Information Officer for Technology BT
An enterprise-wide service-oriented architecture is conferring big commercial and sustainability benefits on BT
The Matrix method
BT is nearing the end of a four-year enterprise-wide IT transformation programme. Called the BT Matrix project, it is one of the world’s largest service-oriented architecture (SOA) deployments. Its unwavering goal is to rationalise an original assortment of BT legacy systems into re-usable general-purpose functionality blocks. Able to be continuously and seamlessly architected to support different products and services and their associated business processes, those functionality blocks are the very essence of the BT Matrix SOA. In fact, the size of the task was immense. Back in 2004 when the BT Matrix project was launched, BT managed its networks – and the products and services that run on them – through some 4,000 bespoke operational support systems (some of which were only discovered as the project progressed), around 15,000 servers, and 26 data centres, within a loose-knit hardwarecentric framework. Phil Dance, Chief Information Officer for Technology at BT, recalls: “Our systems were exploding in size and complexity. We had scant standardisation, and there was no single truth. If a core process broke we’d change it to fit the application, rather than the other way round. This was crazily expensive to maintain. It was also a big brake on speed to market.” The implementation methodology went far beyond the outdated idea of wrapping a middleware layer around the company’s legacy systems. Called the continuous migration process (CMP) it gave the BT systems architects the freedom to move to just 14 simplified platforms to support the company’s three core business processes: lead-to-cash, trouble-to-resolve, and concept-to-market. (Note that those core business processes are, in themselves, a masterpiece of simplification.)
The BT differentiators
• The Matrix architecture supports the BT 21CN to deliver the next generation of IP-based products and services • Standardised architecture – driven by customer-focused business processes rather than system-centric inflexibility – enables agility and innovation • Enterprise-wide implementation has proven the BT approach for major organisations considering embarking on a similar journey • Improved business sustainability comes naturally with SOA-enabled IT rationalisation and consolidation
Our architects and designers had to think and behave very differently. and consolidation of web and application servers. a function like billing would previously have depended upon over 300 support systems. systems. Performance measures are more closely linked to. mobile broadband. BT realised very early on that technology was but one part of the Matrix project. Now just one platform is adjusted through an interface that automates the change process. Today. BT mass-market products and services such as standard telephony. For example. and associated data. previously. A central hub enables workflow between applications. for example. A new agile delivery model was introduced to . because the primary consideration for any proposed service is how current and future customers would need to interact with it. Customer-centric processes The BT story is compelling for companies about to embark on a similar journey. or service management. The transition includes database migration. and BT strove hard to (successfully) win over the hearts and minds of its technical community. and solutions designers to create the required IT functionalities. and global MPLS connections are running across the BT Matrix SOA. Already. So the Matrix method defines what the ideal customer experience should be – rather than handing it down as an afterthought. General Manager of IT Services in BT Global Services. encourage development teams to move away from waterfall models and forge tighter links with internal and external customers. George Glass comments: “The process now begins with our customer experience team.” Steve Holt General Manager. “Moving to a service-oriented architecture requires fundamental organisational and cultural shifts. Steve Holt. and an enterprise service bus provides the interface between them. They all start work from the same customer-agreed design specification and they speak one common language about capabilities (reusable standards-based blocks of processes. designed to assure a repeatable business outcome). George Glass. For example.” Under the Matrix project BT has now closed down over 1. getting projects right first time and the re-use of functionality. A similar exercise in 1991 took months of painstaking effort. a small reduction in a BT Wholesale line rental required changes to 42 systems – followed by three months of testing. which will all operate under one consistent governance model. while new services are built on Java-based models. explains: “An encapsulation utility exposes our legacy systems as web services. Already rationalised down to 70 systems. When BT had to implement the VAT revision in late-2008 the changes were completed and tested right across the company in six days. IT Services BT Global Services The key to competitiveness The value that BT is unlocking through the Matrix project includes greater staff satisfaction and more resilient IT services: the sustainability benefits are significant (see separate box).” A prerequisite was to demolish the old systems-centric mindset in favour of a platform-centric culture.Case study BT Matrix architecture Each of the new platforms represents a domain of business functionality such as customer management. says: “Moving to a service-oriented architecture requires fundamental organisational and cultural shifts. developers run hothouse sessions to consult with users prior to starting work. George Glass observes: “The new architecture is enabling us to bring new products and services to market much faster and more cost effectively. the eventual target is to reduce the billing platform to just 10 systems sharing application logic and data. Average lead times are being slashed from a year-and-a-half to just six months. because SOA vision quickly turns to dust unless you take everyone with you. Chief Architect in BT Global Services.500 systems and remains on track to achieve a reduction of 80 per cent from the 2004 total. because SOA vision quickly turns to dust unless you take everyone with you. Our architects and designers had to think and behave very differently.” For example.” BT created new roles to reflect the new model: capability designers responsible for designing and implementing the service interface. billing.
Mark James. They will always face challenges ranging from cementing the commitment of key stakeholders. BT could see a reduction in recurring overheads estimated to be as much as £60 million per annum. In addition.000 people – some 20 per cent of the company’s IT staff. Head of Integration Services at BT Global Services. should problems occur. As the company’s newfound agility enables it to offer self-service. For example the BT 21st Century Network (21CN) combined with the Matrix architecture will allow BT to turn on services automatically for customers – virtually as soon as they place their orders – with no intervention from an agent or engineer. Where a well-developed SOA ambition already exists. So the Matrix SOA defines what the ideal customer experience should be – rather than handing it down as an afterthought. Now those skills are being marketed as strategic consulting services. project support. In the previous elaborate architecture. BT SOA Realisation services offer architectural validation. For example.” . through which BT intends to help its customers avoid the potential pitfalls of SOA adoption. As a result those people are learning new skills and feeling more fulfilled. explains: “It’s a hard fact that nearly all do-it-yourself SOA projects take longer than originally anticipated and can fail to deliver on the anticipated business benefits. It is also much easier to retire redundant systems. while realising benefits faster. Specific examples include: • The decommissioning of over 6. In terms of its effect upon BT employees. it has captured and codified best practice: invaluable insight for organisations facing similar systems challenges in industries as diverse as financial services. The BT Matrix SOA project has also helped to raise the bar on IT performance and availability. to conflict over goals and resource allocation. That is no longer the case. “The process now begins with our customer experience team. while re-using any still-valuable functionality. In so doing. upgrades would interrupt the business as engineers grappled with complexity.” George Glass Chief Architect BT Global Services Sharing success There is no question that BT has climbed a huge learning curve during the Matrix SOA project. the BT Matrix SOA project has made it possible to reorient the efforts of around 3. because the primary consideration for any proposed service is how current and future customers would need to interact with it.Case study BT Matrix architecture The project has saved BT huge amounts in non-recurring costs. BT SOA Assessment services fast track the critical discovery phase through objective gap analysis and the development of a high-level SOA roadmap. zero touch.400 operational servers onto 160 blade servers • Capital avoidance through re-utilising redundant servers and only purchasing physical servers as a last resort • A standardised software build that has reduced the cost and complexity of patch management across the entire BT estate By the end of the project. real time experiences. Our SOA consultancy propositions are designed to help customers navigate such choppy waters through proven methods and best practice. The new architecture will significantly contribute to the BT drive to realise industry leading customer service levels and therefore achieve greater competitive edge. From internally focused projects they are now adopting customer-facing roles that generate revenue for the company. A service-oriented architecture means that a change need only affect a single capability and. and the effects of faults would ripple throughout the system. and awareness programmes to speed delivery of the vision. unpredicted pressures such as M&A activity can throw things off course. they can be isolated and rectified much more rapidly. and national and local government. high-tech manufacturing.900 hardware devices such as surplus servers and routers • A Windows consolidation programme that has virtualised 2. as part of proof of concept considerations. customers will see BT becoming totally responsive to their needs.
the business sustainability benefits of the programme have grown hugely in prominence and effect during the intervening period.000kW per annum. In fact. and power systems that harvest waste heat are in use. the Matrix has become one of the key contributors to the BT goal of reducing its UK business carbon footprint by 80 per cent by 2016 (relative to 1996 figures). For one large government organisation using the BT CMP way to SOA adoption has eliminated the need for a previously planned 12-month multi-million pound expansion of its data centre facilities.Case study BT Matrix architecture BT customers are already benefiting from this hands-on approach. BT is one of the world’s largest purchasers of green electricity.5 million have been achieved since January 2006 through the Matrix project. BT is currently providing ongoing guidance and regular health checks to ensure that the bank’s SOA roadmap remains on track. adopt a more agile enterprise architecture. Whether the imperative is to take costs out of a top-heavy IT infrastructure. adopt a more agile enterprise architecture. Moreover.500 multi-service access nodes and 106 metro nodes at the core of 21CN. Head of Global Propositions for IT Services in BT Global Services. concludes: “BT SOA processes are proven in practice. such incremental gains add up to huge environmental benefits. and a similar approach is being deployed across 5. Services and equipment are provided subject to British Telecommunications plc’s respective standard conditions of contract. A significant factor in this is the retirement of approaching 10. heating. Craig Parker. Offices worldwide The services described in this publication are subject to availability and may be modified from time to time. Whether the imperative is to take costs out of a top-heavy IT infrastructure. we have the people and the skills to assist. London EC1A 7AJ Registered in England No: 1800000 . In fact. 98 per cent of the electricity BT uses in the UK now comes from renewable sources or combined heat-and-power schemes. and Ireland.000 redundant hardware devices. BT also has low-carbon electricity contracts in Belgium. IT Services BT Global Services Core BT services • BT Continuous Migration Process • BT SOA Assessment consultancy services • BT SOA Realisation consultancy services SOA sustainability dividends Although not the primary objective of the original BT Matrix SOA project in 2004. Nothing in this publication forms any part of any contract. Another US retail banking client chose the BT CMP method over more prescriptive solutions presented by five top IT consultancies. Factored across the entire BT global data centre estate. which means that customers need no longer make blind leaps of faith. we have the people and the skills to assist. © British Telecommunications plc 2009. Germany. which means that customers need no longer make blind leaps of faith.” Craig Parker Head of Global Propositions. Already power savings of £3. or assure business sustainability. this SOA-enabled rationalisation is helping BT transform data centre efficiency by using techniques such as free air cooling and cold aisle segregation. and there is a knock-on benefit in terms of releasing carbon efficient capacity for other uses. Cold aisle segregation at the BT Rochdale Hall data centre is improving the overall energy efficiency of its cooling systems by some 16 per cent.” “BT SOA processes are proven in practice. at BT Adastral Park combined cooling. Meanwhile. Italy. Registered office: 81 Newgate Street. or assure business sustainability. free air cooling at the BT Tinsley Park data centre is saving some 255. For example.
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