BT has revealed how automation has enabled it to reduce the time it takes to deliver a new database from weeks to minutes.

To do this, the telecoms company created a pre-provisioned, six-node rack cluster, which heavily uses automation to create databases for IT projects that require them. This means that new databases can be created on this Database-as-a-Service cluster in just 19 minutes.

Surren Partabh, CTO of core software technology support and services at BT Operate, said: "In the traditional world of IT, it could take weeks to provision a service because it was done on hardware, then you had to install the software, configure the database and so on."

"We believe that creating a pre-provisioned infrastructure, where all you had to do was use automation to create a database, meant that we could cut a lot of unnecessary time out of the process. Something that used to take two to three weeks, now takes 19 minutes."

BT has built its entire DaaS on Oracle, except for the hardware. It uses Oracle Database 11g, Oracle Enterprise Linux, Oracle Clusterware and Oracle Automatic Storage Management (ASM).

As part of BT's journey to the cloud, the company needs to consolidate its sprawling IT estate. Partabh said that establishing DaaS was a "crucial" first step in doing this, as the company attempts to become more cost-effective and greener by evening out the workload of some its systems.

DaaS has also made it easier for BT to manage its database estate. Even though the use of DaaS has increased in the company, and the database estate has grown, Partabh said that the company has not needed to hire extra resources to manage the estate. "And we're reaping the benefits in terms of cost and time to market," he added.

Partabh's advice for other companies wishing to deploy a similar service was to make sure that testing is carried out thoroughly.

"When you are developing a shared platform, or something multiple users are going to use, you have to be very conscious of any bugs you might hit, so ensure that your testing is absolutely spot on," he said.

He also recommended that the design and operations team work closely together, so that lessons learned can be shared efficiently, so that implementations go right first time.

As a next step, Partabh is interested in the new Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c that was heavily promoted at Oracle's Openworld conference in San Francisco last October. This new product will hopefully help integrate BT's Oracle-acquired products.