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Network Oct 17, 2023

BT wraps multi-cloud in a new Global Fabric

New network-as-a-service enables customers to boost performance, cost, security and sustainability

BT today announced a brand-new international network, enabling business customers to innovate at pace. The new network connects 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 AI. 

Global Fabric, as the new network will be known, represents a generational shift in technology, based on a network-as-a-service (NaaS) technical and commercial model. Like the cloud itself, it is designed to be flexible, scalable and resilient both in the quality of connectivity and the convenience of pay-as-you-use. By combining the power of cloud and networks, customers can optimise application performance, user experience and cost. 

They 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 achieve the best applications performance, manage costs and address growing regulatory requirements for data in transit. 

The new high-capacity, fully programmable network is built with state-of-the-art equipment offering improvements in efficiency, sustainability and resilience. BT estimates that when fully rolled out, Global Fabric will use 79 per cent less electricity than its current global networks (see Notes to editors). This means customers on the new network will be able to reduce their Scope 3 carbon emissions. 

The new network’s digital orchestration and e-commerce-like interface 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 (SaaS), and secure access service edge (SASE) solutions — all available at the click of a button. 

Jan Hein Bakkers, Senior Research Director, 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.” 

Chris Sharp, Chief Technology Officer, Digital Realty, said: “Global Fabric is a great example of how service providers should be innovating and will offer enterprises new options for connecting to Digital Realty, the world’s largest data centre platform. By building a cloud-centric network and locating its PoPs inside our world-leading carrier neutral facilities (CNFs), BT will be able to offer its customers terrific speeds with low latency while helping them minimise their environmental impact.”

Brenden Rawle, Senior Director Business Development EMEA at Equinix said: "We welcome BT’s launch of Global Fabric, which builds on its Connected Cloud Edge solution launched with Equinix last year. We enjoy a great partnership with BT and look forward to working together to connect customers to the doorstep of the cloud with a vast and varied choice of potential partners and other SaaS providers, in the Equinix location of their choice."

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


Notes to editors

Architected for multi-cloud

The location of Global Fabric’s network hardware is key. 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 per cent more than the nearest competitor, based on connectivity information published on hyperscaler websites. Hyperscale clouds include those of AWS, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure. 

Running on the new network “underlay” will be an AI-powered digital orchestration layer. Unlike the Internet, Global Fabric will be “deterministic” — customers will be able to trust BT to deliver the 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. 

Connectivity options

Options will include a new 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 not possible on current networks.

Global Fabric and sustainability – key figures

Using the Greenhouse Gas Protocol ICT Sector Guidance by Gesi, BT has generated the following estimates: 

  • In use, Global Fabric will consume 8,326 MWh/year versus its existing international networks at 39,890 MWh/year — a 79 per cent reduction. 
  • Use stage gross carbon, including PUE, will be 2,964 tonCO2e/year for Global Fabric versus 13,596 tonCO2e/year for BT’s existing international networks — a 78 per cent reduction. 
  • Global Fabric’s embodied emissions will be 363 tonCO2e/year versus its existing international networks 2,185 tonCO2e/year — an 83 per cent reduction. 
  • This gives a total carbon in use plus embodied carbon figure of 3,327 for Global Fabric versus its existing international networks at 15,781 tonCO2e/year — a 78 per cent reduction. 
  • BT estimates the average power consumption of Global Fabric will be 787 Watts per device, versus 2,201 Watts per device for its existing international networks.
  • Moreover, Global Fabric will be built using 1,326 devices versus 1,571 devices — a 16 per cent reduction.