back to article Welcome to the telco, we've got fun and games: BT inks 5-year deal to outsource mainframe management to IBM

BT is outsourcing management of its mainframe estate to IBM in a five-year agreement that kicks off today. And while it may be April Fools' Day, some incumbent staff being TUPEd across to Big Blue aren't laughing. Staff at the British telco were told about the move in January, then formal consultations with the CWU and …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Project Sovereign

    Ah, I remember the internal backronym: Sod Off Vallance, Every Reorg Ever Invented Got Nowhere.

  2. theExecutive


    1. So they have plenty to spaff on IBM (Not British) see here ..

    2. They expect us to fund them, and they choose IBM, nobody ever got retained for buying IBM :)

    3. IBM is BBC?

    4. Its 1st April

    1. Steve K Silver badge

      Re: IBM

      I think you are confused - this article was about BT. They have not been taxpayer-funded since the 1980's

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: IBM

        “ They have not been taxpayer-funded since the 1980's”

        Kool-Aid goggles?

  3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Big Brother

    One thing is certain

    and that is that the number of jobs and kit in Blighty will get an awful lot smaller and possibly down to around ZERO.

    IBM really does mean "I've Been Mugged" for each and everyone affected by this move.

    1. druck Silver badge

      Re: One thing is certain

      Yes, and "hear more about IBM and its culture", I think everyone knows they their feet won't even touch the carpet before being offshored.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: One thing is certain

      Yes, or to put the subtitles on the story, "we are moving to the cloud and have B-Arked the mainframe team."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: One thing is certain

        One site where I worked they just renamed the current data centres as the <insert company name here> cloud... job done, now we're in the cloud and IBM got the client to swallow that!

        Step 2 seemed to be to parachute in a load of IBMers to bill their time, things gradually stopped getting done for the client and it looked to me that the plan was to drink the client dry and then jump ship.

        6 years down the road and the client is thoroughly pissed off and looking to get out of the contract....

  4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "The five-year contract with IBM nestles well with BT's intention to close the public switched telephone network by 2025."

    I wonder. Applying the basic law of project timelines "close the PSTN by 2025" translates to "close the PSTN starting in 2025 at the earliest". When that happens we can reasonably expect customer support calls to go up just as the contract for supporting this system supporting customer service ends. From IBM's PoV the renewal nestles well with that, maybe from the BT side not so much.

    1. HildyJ Silver badge

      No problem

      Renew Big Blue and outsource customer support to India.

  5. Repne Scasb

    Help me out here

    I'm confused.

    "what we do brilliantly and what our partners can do brilliantly"

    Hmm, I know IBM are pretty good at redundancies, especially of older staff, although it sounds like many will jump first, but remind me, what is it BT do brilliantly again?

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Help me out here

      what is it BT do brilliantly again?

      Sell off assets and rent them back. Unfortunately, like equity-release mortgages, it only works if you intend to die shortly.

      1. HildyJ Silver badge

        Re: Help me out here

        You forgot open their database to hackers. Hopefully IBM can do a better job.

        1. DJV Silver badge

          What IBM do brilliantly...

          ...has already been covered by the Register here.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Help me out here

        what is it BT do brilliantly again?

        Defend and milk monopolies.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Help me out here

      Yes, they have B-Arked the mainframe staff. Just be thankful that the telephone sanitisers didn't go with them. ;-)

    3. 2+2=5 Silver badge

      Re: Help me out here

      > what is it BT do brilliantly again

      Surely BT stands for Brilliant Telephony?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    On the subject of BT and India

    The lockdown in India seems to have dramatically reduced the number of calls supposedly coming from 'Windows Support'. As I don't have any MS products at home, I'm spared giving them a dose of verbals in Hindi that challenge the caste of their mother.

    1. Sean o' bhaile na gleann

      Re: On the subject of BT and India

      "...challenge the caste of their mother."

      Ohhh! Please, please, please: how do you say that? How do you pronounce it? Go on... pleeeease!

      (my minimal language skills only got me as far as COBOL and FORTRAN)

      1. GreyWolf

        Re: On the subject of BT and India

        I learned a little Hindi specifically for the purpose of telling "Jack from Mumbai" to go forth and multiply himself. I found the novel Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra to be useful (lots of police slang). Here's what I have:

        Chubbarao = Shut Up (say it with force)

        I am a burra Sahib = I am a great lord

        You are a chota-wallah = You are a small person of no value (if the caller is female, chota-wallee)

        And the killer "Are your mother and father proud of how you earn your money?". I got one of them to scream and hang up.

        Current favourite: I say "You have reached the BT Business Support Helpdesk. All calls to this number cost £25. Please have your credit card ready. Read out the long number across the front". They hang up before I have finished saying that. And if they don't, I repeat it.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The former state telco said the deal will "allow the transferring team to focus on best-in-class mainframe delivery, supported by a wider team." It added the outsourcing will also give the BT team moving to IBM broader career pathways"

    Well, good luck finding "the wider team", and as for "IBM broader career pathways" that usually means a career outside of IBM.

    My commiserations.

  8. earl grey

    they are well and truly forked

    having worked at a place years ago that forked the employees over to I've Been Mislead, stealing employees pensions, and then having IBM dump a whole lot of those folks prior to the contract ending.... and then watching the same thing happen years later (again - some folks are slow learners) and watching as big blue proceeded to dump more and more of the experienced (yes, older) workers and try to force many more into relocation (at your own expense)...

    Ah, fuck 'em.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IBM the premier waste management company

    Because waste is how management view older higher paid employees.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IBM pulled out of our outsourcing solicitation

    IBM pulled out of our outsourcing solicitation

    I was actually concerned how bad our business must be in if IBM decided not to bid.

    1. AnAnonymousCanuck

      Re: IBM pulled out of our outsourcing solicitation

      Or they realized that your company was competent

  11. joeW

    I spent a good deal of time trying to sing the second half of the headline to the tune of the first.

  12. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Two dinosaurs summoning an asteroid?

    Could be fun to watch.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So, they have a team that is high functioning (despite underpaying) and now they have transferred that team to a 3rd party, who have to honour the team's Ts and Cs / liabilities etc (so no cheaper)

    Then they are going to pay that supplier the cost of the team + supplier's margin.

    And sell the supplier some old kit (all all know how good a dealer trading is!), then the new supplier is going to replace the kit with new kit they supply and BT is going to effectively rent the service back?

    I don't have an MBA, so I don't see how paying more for something (that was previously heavily sweated and working well) is good value for BT's shareholders...


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I expect the people working on these databases are of a certain age and an expensive recruitment and training exercise would be on the cards if it stayed in-house. Presumably IBM won't have to pay themselves the licensing costs for the metal and tools and OS either.

      I can see how you could make a case to do this based on avoiding a big bill quite soon, even if it means quite high bills in the medium term.

  14. TheBorg

    Glad to see that CSS is still running on those mainframes - In 1995 when I was at Bletchley they told us it would all transfer to open systems ...... we laughed at them then, seems we understood more than the manglement :)

    1. GreyWolf

      CSS is still running

      And if BT ever shut it down, the entire UK landline network will become impossible to make any changes to.

      Maybe that's why BT are killing the UK landline network.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I misread the signs...

    I misread the signs in the header image as "Outhouse Insource", and it kinda fit.

    Will be interesting to see how this one turns out.

  16. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Well, IT certainly is different with such Convivial Communions

    IBM/BT ..... Goliaths Entertaining Davids in Plain Text View of All Other Surreal and Stealthy Operating Systems.

    Are IBM real good or virtually crap at simply following BT instructions for CSS/COSMOSS Feeds ?

    IT never takes long to find out.

    How real good or virtually crap are BT at providing IBM Special Server Instruction Services ?

    IT never takes long to find out the lay of the lands in that most particular and refreshingly peculiar field of exploration and experimentation.

    And refreshingly peculiar because one never surely knows what the future brings, although if you can dream it so good that you can love it and are able to share those great creatively imaginative thoughts with everybody, are future pictures easily enough universally exchanged and grand master plans changed to accommodate such a Totally Unusual Event and Absolutely Fabulous Opportunity.

    Does Blighty Do Almighty ? And that question to Boris and Dominic of the Downing Street Lair Gang, Gung Ho Tories gone all Crazy Nation Rogue Native? Or have they only just half come out?

    That's an answer surely of instant great interest to the Register and El Regers, for yes leads us further on into how and no identifies a false prophets and failed enterprises ...... and a Rank Eton Mess of an Horrendous Prank to Boot Out or Reboot Rooted at the Cabinet Responsibility Heart of UKGBNI Government ?

    It's a bit of a no-brainer the right answer always for immensely fast further action satisfying those sorts of instrumental questions.

    1. The Nazz

      Re: Well, IT certainly is different with such Convivial Communions

      Out of curiosity, are you like this down the pub?

  17. ValleyBoy

    Good god, CSS is still going????

    I thought they switched over to some awful Oracle product for Customer Service. If I think hard enough, I may even remember some of the transaction codes...

    Many years ago, BT did this with other IT staff. Server Support, and I think even the DBAs, got TUPE'd over to HP. A few years later, they were all TUPE'd back to BT.

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