National Express

IBM and Vodafone offer National Express a smooth ride to hybrid cloud

Coach operator National Express signs eight-year IT modernisation deal with IBM and Vodafone to provide it with a cloud platform to underpin future digital transformation plans

National Express has emerged as one of the first customers to enlist the help of Vodafone and IBM’s hybrid cloud-enabling commercial venture to support its digital transformation plans.

The UK-based coach operator has signed an eight-year IT modernisation contract with IBM and Vodafone, which will work with the firm to deliver on its hybrid cloud strategy. This will include moving its infrastructure estate to Big Blue’s cloud.

The agreement will also build on an existing relationship Vodafone has in place with National Express.

That engagement focused on the provision of wide area network connectivity and secure internet gateway services to National Express, while this latest deal will also provide the firm with access to 5G, internet of things (IoT), edge computing and analytics offerings.

Debbie O’Shea, group CIO at National Express, said the deal was a show of the firm’s commitment to investing in technology to achieve its strategic objectives, which include meeting the needs and rising expectations of its digitally savvy customer base.  

“This partnership enables us to move to a cloud environment, giving us a future-proofed platform with increased flexibility that will better support our business. It will also provide access to emerging and innovative new technologies,” added O’Shea.

The IBM-Vodafone partnership that National Express will be tapping into was first announced in January 2019, and has been operational since May.

“This partnership [with Vodafone and IBM] enables us to move to a cloud environment, giving us a future-proofed platform with increased flexibility that will better support our business”
Debbie O’Shea, National Express

“This flagship [customer] win is a powerful demonstration of the value the Vodafone Business and IBM venture can bring to customers,” said Greg Hyttenrauch, cloud and security director of Vodafone Business.

“As cloud services and connectivity become ever more inseparable, there is a clear need for the combined expertise we can deliver.”   

To this point, the partnership’s aim is to help the firm’s joint customers speed up their cloud migration plans so they can, in turn, take advantage of emerging technologies such as 5G, edge computing and artificial intelligence (AI).

Speaking to Computer Weekly, Michael Valocchi, IBM general manager of the venture with Vodafone, said these technologies would all play a role in helping National Express make operational improvements.

“What we’re building for National Express is a future-proof platform that’s going to allow them to use hybrid cloud, to have the flexibility and scalability they need,” he said. “It’s a way for them to innovate, both from a consumer experience [point of view] and from an operational perspective, by bringing together the predictive nature of maintenance and vehicle placement, and the operational benefits that brings.”

Another element to the deal is that it will enable National Express to integrate services from multiple cloud providers, hosted in a variety of locations, which are capabilities a lot of enterprises are looking for, continued Valocchi.

“There are so many workloads that haven’t been taken to the cloud yet, [and] we’re seeing more and more people asking for [help with] that. And at the same time, the speed at which these customers need to innovate is a lot shorter than has been in the past,” he said.

“So we’re getting the questions, ‘If I move to a hybrid cloud platform now, when and how much can I innovate? And how quickly can I do it? And can you make sure you give me a future-proof platform?’”

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