Case Study: BP plc

The Impact Of Digital Technologies

BP estimate that application of digital tools, including sensors, supercomputing, data analytics, automation and artificial intelligence (AI), all supported by the networked computers of the ‘cloud’, could reduce primary energy demand and costs in sectors of the energy system by 20-30% by 2050.

Therefore, BP are embracing new digital technologies, which will improve their ability to monitor, predict, and optimize their business. Ultimately, this digital transformation will enable BP to create more sustainable operations, better manage expenses, and uncover new products and services for customers around the world.

Enacting digital transformation on a global scale is a vast undertaking at BP, a company of more than 75,000 employees dedicated to oil and gas exploration, production, transportation, refining, and retail—with airline and shipping divisions and a growing presence in biofuels and wind energy.

Software Defined Networks Create New Sources of Value

The same dynamics of hardware commoditization and move to software and cloud services seen in the datacentre are now disrupting the Network. No longer does configuring a network involve the bespoke configuration of a set of proprietary hardware assets, on a device-by-device basis. Instead the methods needed to manage the configuration of a modern network are more commonly found in a software DevOps team, focused on managing a configuration ‘code base’ and making extensive use of APIs to orchestrate and automate deployment, independent of the underlying hardware topology. This allows the network to dynamically react to changes in business usage, and further, because value is created in software, software vendors are rapidly adding intelligence to the network to support the at-scale commercial exploitation of new digital use cases.

The new operating models needed to allow the flexibility and capability to rapidly exploit these changes across an enterprise, are also making an entry as platform businesses into the market.

Increasing Commoditization of Telco Services

As value moved to software and Cloud services, barriers to entry were lowered for new entrants that were not constrained by legacy business models, and product & services. This was particularly true in the Telco sector where the traditional OEM players trying to continue to drive incremental innovation into their products and services whilst treating telcom services as ‘unintelligent pipes’.

However, emerging technologies, such as SD-WAN, into nascent markets was necessitating the business need for multinational organisations to look at these new capabilities, to build enterprise networks over the public Internet at significantly lower price points than traditional MPLS architectures.

Therefore, BP’s innovation and sourcing strategy needed to be biased towards models that were better positioned to further exploit the commoditization of transport, whilst exploring more radical innovations with solution providers that were more platform driven.

The Challenge

In support of the IT modernisation and digitisation strategy for BP, a Network Transformation was required to deliver a future mode of network operations, supporting agile working, automation, address End of Life component risks and deliver an upgraded network in order to improve user experience as well as aligning to the Cloud First and Mobile First corporate strategic imperatives.

BP’s Network Services manages one of the top ten largest non-carrier, non-governmental networks in the world (2020), with a scope including:

  • 630 Sites across 75 countries
  • 11k non-retail network devices
  • Networks supporting 15,000 fuel stations
  • 175 third-party connections to 325 internet points-of-presence
  • 400 private network interconnection points, to networks supporting six datacentres and cloud networks across AWS and Azure, across one of the largest private IP spaces in the world
  • Future Mode of Operation structure of approximately 63 FTEs in direct support, plus indirect control of 300+ third-party partner FTEs across 11 countries

Our involvement

We supplied a programme manager to lead BP’s Site of the Future Programme to:

  • manage the execution of a Network Procurement Strategy,
  • propose an agreed reference architecture for the Next Generation Network
  • take advantage of software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) technologies and the adoption of Next Generation Office infrastructure (i.e. through agile service management, orchestration, automation, virtualisation etc)
  • deliver an evergreen, fully elastic, agile, globally consistent, and secure set of Network Services

The initiative also considered a DevOps Experiment that demonstrated the benefits of an agile relationship between Architecture & Development and Network Services Operations. The goal of the experiment was to continuously improve this agile relationship by advocating better communication and collaboration between the two business functions, whilst adopting technologies and tooling that enhanced the abilities to promote extensive orchestration and automation of the IT Infrastructure, across the entire enterprise.

This initiative included the stakeholder management of IT&S Directors, Category Sourcing Leadership, Senior Enterprise Architects, BP Digital Security, and other key BP business stakeholders. The scope was broadened to include the implementation of a new Global Network Manager into the BP service-management eco-system.

The Results

  • Implemented a new Global Network Manager into the BP service management eco-system, that is now responsible for the management of 11k devices in 361 locations, in 55 countries
  • Completed the campus transformation of 40 locations, at the point that our involvement ended