Balfour Beatty inks £43 million deal with Fujitsu to rationalise sprawling IT estate

Balfour Beatty has partnered with Fujitsu in a multi-million pound, five-year deal aimed at rationalising its sprawling IT estate, involving halving its 1,500 physical servers and removing thousands of applications.

Operating in over 80 countries, construction firm Balfour Beatty has a large presence in the UK, with the business seeing continued growth in recent years, both organically and through acquisition. The company currently supports IT for around 14,000 users across its business, spread over 450 permanent and 450 temporary sites in every major city in the UK.

Previously Balfour Beatty has dealt with a number of service companies to deliver its end user and back office IT, predominantly based on Dell infrastructure in both instances.

In order to deal with business expansions Balfour Beatty introduced shared services across its organisation 18 months ago.  As part of this drive, the company sought to join up the disparate and federated IT systems that are deployed across various sites.

In order to achieve this Balfour Beatty chose Fujitsu to deliver a project aimed at reducing the complexity of its operations in order to provide a stronger basis for its shared services model.  The deal will cost an expected £43 million over the course of five years, with 67 staff transferring over in line with TUPE regulations.

One element of the project will be to replace its 10 data centres containing 1,500 servers, consolidating into two London based data centres owned by Fujitsu.  The rationalisation will involve replacing the legacy data centre infrastructure with Primergy servers and Eternus storage in a largely virtualised, private cloud environment.  The aim is that, over the next one to two years, Balfour Beatty will be running off 750 servers at most, either physical or virtual.

From an end user perspective, Balfour Beatty will also replace its entire hardware infrastructure line-up over the course of a two year refresh cycle to introduce Fujitsu laptops and desktops.

The move will involve standardising on Windows 7 across the organisation, upgrading from the largely XP environment.

Prior to the roll out of end user hardware in the first quarter of 2014, Fujitsu will begin rationalising the application estate, with over 5,500 pieces of software used throughout Balfour Beatty’s operations. It is expected that the number of applications can eventually be reduced to around 1,500.

The rationalisation is aimed at supporting ambitions to reduce IT spend at Balfour Beatty by 25 percent, with a target of reducing costs by £10 million per annum by 2015.

According to Danny Reeves, CIO of Balfour Beatty’s Services division, the rationalisation of services will also create improvements in the efficiency of the IT systems by simplifying and standardising the architecture.

“By having a standardised product set, both in terms of applications and the infrastructure, the business will be able to share data more freely and we will be able to collaborate right across the business, without the challenges you experience when you have a diverse IT estate.”

“It will also mean a more smooth IT experience, and we will be able to drive out any of the issues across the platform as a result. So there will be better performance, better uptime, swifter response times to any issues that they have, and we can roll out applications across the estate with very minimal intrusion into the business life.”

Another one of the benefits targeted by Balfour Beatty is to enable mobility and bring your own device strategies, which Reeves views as important in attracting the top talent leaving higher education and into its company.

“Our business is a very mobile business given the nature and breadth of what we do. Most of our workforce is out in the field, one way or another,” he told ComputerworldUK.  “So by doing this we can really start to drive the mobility agenda.”

He added: “There is young talent coming out of universities that are so used to using technology in a particular environment format, we want to ensure that we are an employer of choice and we are able to encourage those people into a business environment as seamlessly as possible.”

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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