BT stitches multi-cloud with Global Fabric

UK’s leading telco unveils network-as-a-service offering designed to enable customers to boost cost, security and sustainability while optimising application performance and user experience

As business network demands intensify and become more crucial to the smooth running of businesses, BT has introduced Global Fabric, a worldwide network platform that the UK’s leading comms provider said will represent a generational shift in technology, based on a network-as-a-service (NaaS) technical and commercial model, enabling business customers to innovate at pace.

Global Fabric is designed to connect the multiple clouds businesses use for their applications and data with users, such as customers and employees, and will allow them to take advantage of the new wave of digital automation and artificial intelligence (AI).

Running on the new network underlay will be an AI-powered digital orchestration layer. Global Fabric will be deterministic, with BT supplying customers with a predictable application experience they expect by selecting the optimal end-to-end paths for their applications and workloads as they move to and between multiple clouds and end users. Options will include a BT-enhanced internet service, point-to-point Ethernet, multi-point Ethernet and MPLS, and these will be offered in bandwidth increments of 1 Mbps up to 100 Gbps. Connectivity will be interchangeable on the same port, offering flexibility that BT said is not possible on current networks.

“Global Fabric will future-proof customers’ connectivity by providing flexibility to ensure they’re always connected so they can always be productive,” said Bas Burger, CEO of business at BT. “They’re facing a new wave of digital revolution with AI, IoT [internet of things] and automation driving demand for simplicity and better multi-cloud connectivity. Customers can achieve better total costs, and boost app performance and user experience, all while complying with regulations and mitigating cyber threats. Global Fabric means multi-cloud works better on BT.”

BT said the location of Global Fabric’s network hardware will be key. It claimed Global Fabric’s cloud-centric architecture will give it the most direct coverage of hyperscaler clouds of any connectivity provider in the world, almost 50% more than the nearest competitor, based on connectivity information published on hyperscaler websites. Hyperscale clouds include those of AWS, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure.

Reflecting the fundamental nature of the cloud itself, the platform is designed to offer flexibility, scalability and resilience, both in the quality of connectivity and the convenience of pay-as-you-use.

By combining cloud and networks, BT assured that customers can optimise application performance, user experience and cost. That is to say users will be able to choose the right type of connectivity for their applications and workloads, and proactively manage the routes these take as they move across the network. With this control, customers can optimise application performance, manage costs and address growing regulatory requirements for data in transit.

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In a further boost to companies, Global Fabric will be built using 1,326 devices versus 1,571 on current global networks, and BT estimates that when fully rolled out, it will use 79% electricity rather than its Using the Greenhouse Gas Protocol ICT Sector Guidance by Gesi. The firm also estimates that in use, Global Fabric will consume 8,326 MWh per year versus its existing international networks at 39,890 MWh per year.

Use stage gross carbon, including PUE, will be 2,964 tonCO2e per year for Global Fabric versus 13,596 tonCO2e per year for BT’s existing international networks – a 78% reduction. The telco also calculates that the average power consumption of Global Fabric will be 787 Watts per device, versus 2,201 Watts per device for its existing international networks.

The new network’s digital orchestration and ecommerce-like interface are intended to enable customers to shop for connectivity. It will be pre-integrated with more than 630 digital service providers and over 700 datacentres. This covers the world’s largest public cloud providers, private clouds, network, software-as-a-service and secure access service edge services.

Assessing what Global Fabric could achieve for enterprise users, Jan Hein Bakkers, senior research director at leading analyst IDC, said: “Organisations realise that the network is a critical foundation for their digital-first and cloud-centric strategies. With the launch of Global Fabric, BT addresses their need to transform their networks.

“IDC research shows that organisations should adopt a secure and sustainable platform that provides the flexibility, manageability, scalability and cost effectiveness that can support the right end-user experience for each application. Communications service providers that can deliver performant connectivity solutions with these attributes will be well placed to succeed.”

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