BT has signed a deal to use Novell's Netware and directory services across its network, but says it will not upgrade to the latest version of the network operating system for a few years.
The $5 million (£3.1m) deal - one of the largest Novell has signed outside the US - will see BT deploying Netware 4.11 across 70,000 users, even though the latest version, Netware 5, has been available since autumn last year.
"We have opted for 4.11 for the rest of the upgrade, and because our systems are so vast, we go for gradual upgrades. We are very cautious and that's why we do upgrades in steps like this," said a BT spokesman.
Gary Cooper, a senior researcher at analyst the Butler Group, said it was understandable that BT is holding back from the latest versions of technology.
"Someone like BT will be a second-phase adopter of new technologies because of its concerns about reliability. If it already has the skills set in place for Netware 4.11, then it makes sense," said Cooper.
There is a delicate balancing act between being too cutting edge and getting left behind, said Cooper. But this is more of a problem with applications than of network infrastructure, he added.
BT said that it plans to upgrade to Netware 5, "over the next few years."
However, Novell said the telco plans to upgrade to Netware 5 over the next 12 months, and has bought Netware 5 licences while rolling out version 4.11.
BT installed Netware 4.11 on half of its networks two years ago for directory, file and print services, and will use Novell Directory Services (NDS) to centralise management and control of its IT network.
"The single point of administration provided by NDS makes a significant contribution in terms of the total cost of network ownership, as problems across the country can be dealt with by IT managers at centralised locations," said Chris McGarr, BT's large system design manager.
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