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Ailing BT division snuggles up with AWS to flog cloudy services

Part of new 'digital' rebrand amid thousands of job cuts

BT's struggling Global Services division has inked a deal with AWS to flog its cloudy services in a bid to reinvent itself as a "digital" business.

The love-in is intended to allow enterprises to ramp up their adoption of cloud-based services, with a focus on networking, security and managed cloud services.

The UK's former state monopoly telco described the deal as "a milestone" in its "Cloud of Clouds" portfolio strategy.

Neil Sutton, veep of strategy and strategic alliances at Global Services, said the vast majority of its big global customers are working with AWS.

Asked why the customers would not prefer to go to AWS directly, Sutton said BT would help them navigate complex networking issues – such as if someone digs up a cable, or there is a data centre outage. That is something he said AWS can't do on its own.

Sutton said the business had not picked AWS over Azure as its "Cloud of Clouds" platform was agnostic, adding that the business already works with Microsoft. "As their evolution grows, we may have more to say [about Azure]," he said.

For many years Global Services has been deemed the problem child within the vast BT group with longstanding rumours that its parent is looking to sell the division.

Earlier this year, BT announced it would shed 4,000 jobs in the next two years, with the majority expected to come from Global Services. The shake-up follows an accounting scandal at the Italian part of Global Services that cost BT more than £500m.

At the time, chief exec Gavin Patterson said the business was undertaking a strategic review of Global Services. "Technology trends mean that we are now less dependent on owning physical local network assets around the world, creating the opportunity to reposition Global Services as a more focused digital business. We are therefore restructuring our Global Services organisation to enable this strategic refocusing."

Sutton declined to comment on the what impact the cloud strategy would have on the Global Services business, or the job cuts.

He said: "If content and TV is the driver behind broadband, in the enterprise market cloud is the driver of network demand... It has created new opportunities around managed services and security."

He added that cloud "was an important part" of the company's plan to become a more "digital" and "platform centric" business. ®

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