What is it?
PSN is the trusted, shared infrastructure that connects increasing numbers of organisations delivering public services to each other and to cloud based and hosted services they can use or share. Developed in 2011, after the Cabinet Office asked Industry to design an inclusive eco-system, the PSN was based on common Enterprise standards including performance and service, it’s made up of inter-connected commercial networks from many competing suppliers, so ensuring best value.
Why is it trusted?
To create the right environment for public service providers to share information and services, trust must be established between organisations. The annual PSN compliance process does this by ensuring that both suppliers and customer adhere to appropriate standards including security and technical interoperability. Using existing good practice and standard commercial services wherever possible, this approach creates ‘good and safe’ place for the PSN community to do business at least cost. This way, trust can be established without direct contracts and previous experience.
How secure is PSN?
PSN provides an Assured Wide Area Network (WAN) suitable for using with information classified as Official (or Protect/IL2 in old terms). All services certified as PSN compliant are pre-accredited to ensure this and so cover the great majority of government requirements. Where information is classified as Official-Sensitive (similar to the old term Restricted/IL3), then PSN can also meet this need with Protected WAN overlay services, using common agreed encryption or connectivity utilising the Inter Provider Encryption Domain (IPED).
What’s the objective?
PSN aims to save the Public Sector money by better utilisation of conectivity and a greater choice of consumption and services and enable more efficient and joined-up public services. The initial aim was to provide a demonstrable £500m a year savings. This was achieved in 2013, according to HM Treasury.
What’s the benefit?
PSN saves money straight away by helping consolidate multiple networks, doing away with duplicate connections to other organisations, allowing the purchase of standardised, rather than bespoke services and promoting open and dynamic competition between suppliers.
Most importantly, PSN enables much larger benefits by providing the conduit for shared services, better collaboration and greater efficiency; transforming the way public services are delivered. Digital delivery to the citizen means that the public services ‘supply chain’ of processes, applications and information must be seamless and online too. PSN provides the trusted means to do this across departments, agencies and authorities.
How do I know if a service is ‘PSN’?
Before any supplier’s service can be connected to PSN it must be certified as complying with the relevant PSN standards. PSN compliant services can provide network connectivity plus a wide range of applications including voice, video, conferencing, collaboration, hosting, mail and many others. You can find a list of compliant services and those undergoing certification on the PSN website.
If in doubt, ask your supplier for the PSN compliance certificate for their service.
What about the PSN Frameworks?
Two procurement frameworks were let by the Crown Commercial Service in 2012, covering network connectivity (PSN-Connectivity) and a range of network services (PSN-Services). Although called ‘PSN’, the frameworks include both compliant and non-compliant services. To be clear, a PSN compliant service can be bought through any legitimate procurement mechanism and not solely through the PSN frameworks. Likewise, a listing on the PSN frameworks does not itself mean that a service is PSN compliant. Although extended into 2016, the PSN frameworks are due to be replaced with a new framework in 2015 called Network Services Framework which will list services that are PSN Compliant as an attribute, so removing any confusion between frameworks and compliance.
How do I connect to PSN?
Before connection to PSN as a user, you need to have PSN Compliance. This certifies that your network environment meets the basic requirements to connect to PSN, and ensure that you’re able to share and consume services across the PSN community. Find out more about becoming a customer from the PSN website. You also need to acquire a certified PSN connectivity service, whether that’s a complete WAN or just a single connection into PSN.
How do I make a service available on the PSN?
Any organisation, commercial, public or voluntary, can make services available to consume on PSN. Think of PSN as a ‘wire frame’ connecting hundreds of organisations on which shared services from communications to line of business or critical support applications can be hung. Doing this generally means gaining appropriate PSN certification as a service provider for each individual service before it can be connected to PSN.
More guidance on how to become a service provider is on the PSN website. Innopsis as the industry association for all PSN suppliers provides invaluable support from compliance workshops, networking and information to regular meetings with key stakeholders. PSN services can be sold through any legitimate procurement mechanism including the Digital Marketplace.
What’s the market for PSN services?
There’s a dynamic and open marketplace for PSN network connectivity and services, with many suppliers competing through the PSN frameworks, G-Cloud and other commercial routes. It is estimated that approaching £500m has been spent to date through the PSN frameworks and on PSN compliant services through other channels. Innopsis is expanding with around 60 members, at least 50% of whom are SMEs entering the growing PSN market.
PSN General Documents and Technical Standards
Ever wondered what a vPoC is? Where does a PoI fit in? What exactly a DNSP is? What is PSN? What documents are in the overalll PSN Standards? The answers are here.
The core of the PSN Operating Model is the Technical Design Document (TDD). This describes the minimal technical standards of PSN Services.
To view or download the documents, please click here
Service Management Framework
In an environment where end to end service may be dependent on suppliers or other consumers who are uncontracted, there has to be a set of rules to obey, a way or working and a common vocabulary that all can understand. There needs to be an agreed ‘way of doing things’, otherwise there will be chaos. This does not have to be difficult or onerous, just following common sense practice.
The Service Management Framework decribes how PSN runs, day to day. For details of the documentation, please click here
How does a Supplier or consumer know that any services connected or connecting meet the agreed standards? Compliance provides a short cut to experience. Services and Customer Environments that meet the conditions described in the PSN Operating Model, and can be backed up by verification, also a rapid trust environment to be established.
How is this done? The PSN Compliance documentation provides the information.
While the COIVD-19 pandemic has disrupted nearly every facet of our daily lives, many businesses and employees are seeing their operations can still take place remotely relatively seamlessly. But imagine if the pandemic happened 30 or 40 years earlier, when connectivity networks barely existed, this transition to remote working would not have been the case for a lot of enterprises. Many workers would be left sitting by their landlines and shuffling papers, with many of their day-to-day responsibilities coming to a crashing halt.
Fast-forwarding to now, with next-generation network infrastructures and advanced connectivity within the comfort of our homes, business operations can continue with minimal disruption to the workforce. However, the pandemic has revealed a few areas where we can enhance our networks, so they’re better equipped to handle the unexpected.
Broadband and TV provider Virgin Media (Liberty Global) has today published their Q2 2020 results, which saw them add +39,200 new UK internet customers in the quarter (up from +8,200 last quarter) to total 5,318,400. At the same time their network coverage grew by 93,000 premises (unchanged).
At this point it’s probably fair to say that VM have had an extremely busy quarter. The biggest development, by far, has been the agreement to merge with mobile operator O2 and they’ve separately decided to shut all of their remaining outlets on the high street. On top of that they’ve also made their 516Mbps plan more widely available and will upgrade their Ultimate Oomph TV bundle to 600Mbps.
As the UK starts to recover from the first COVID-19 wave, hoping to be the last, the pandemic has brought deep economic and lifestyle changes to many citizens, with reverberations that might last for years to come. The way people work, commute, shop, and socialize has drastically changed in such a short time span, and many adaptations were required in an effort to curb the number of infections in the country. According to the ONS, 46.6% of British workers worked from home from April 2020 onwards, and 86% of them did so as a result of the pandemic. Furthermore, only one in ten people in the UK stated to still be planning a holiday abroad this year, and instead relying on ‘staycations’.
The battle is far from over and the fear of a second wave still remains. However, many governments are keen to avoid a second lockdown, as they cannot afford its economic cost. Technology applied in the public and private sector will be key for adapting spaces to make them safer and allow people to return to them. A digitally-enabled transformation of our public surroundings may be the only viable path to some kind of normality, and to an economic recovery.
UK tech sector representative TechUK has sent an urgent request to DCMS secretary of state Oliver Dowden, drawing attention to the digital identity policy delays and urging an immediate solution, writes Computer Weekly.
The tech industry in the country, represented by TechUK CEO Julian David, is concerned and frustrated with the lack of advancement in the digital identity market in the UK. In the letter, David emphasizes the positive contribution digital identity could bring to the economy post-COVID-19.
The digital identity policy is not moving forward due to issues reported between DCMS and GDS, one responsible for digital economy policy and the other for Gov.uk Verify, a program that has had a troubled roadmap.
According to new research from AT&T, businesses are understandably skittish in regards to remote workers being exposed to more cyberattacks.
AT&T’s survey found that 70% of the large business felt remote working made them more vulnerable to cyberattacks. AT&T’s study of 800 cybersecurity professionals across the U.K., France and Germany found that more than half (55%) now believe remote working is making their companies more vulnerable to cyberattacks.
With “work from anywhere” policies in place for millions of employees due to Covid-19, the security perimeter has moved out of office spaces, which has provided cybercriminals with new vectors of attack.
New Zscaler research sheds light on whether employees will return to offices, or whether remote working is the new norm.
Today marks the first working day where employers have discretion on whether they want to bring their employees back into physical office spaces. With the impetus and responsibility now with businesses themselves, new research* from Zscaler shows how businesses across the UK and Europe will adjust to the updated guidelines from government.
The study shows that almost half (48%) of all European respondents expect the number of people that will work from away the office to grow by at least 25% and up to 50% in the next 12 months.
Only 45% of UK respondents are confident that they have a secure remote access infrastructure in place that would support remote working. As such, just over a third (34%) are evaluating new security solutions based on the growing remote workforce requirements.
Vodafone is trialling Narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) technology in two English forests, helping researchers understand the role of trees in tackling climate change.
The Newbury-based operator is working with the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and Forest Research on the project, which will also serve as a demonstrator for the potential for NB-IoT.
NB-IoT is a licensed Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) technology designed for use by mobile operators who want to capture part of the IoT connectivity market. Although cellular networks have a clear advantage in terms of coverage, they consume more power than Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Sigfox.
BT has reported a near-70% surge in customers switching to next-generation full-fibre broadband as the working-from-home revolution prompts people to upgrade to the fastest internet connection available.
The company said the number of sign-ups for full fibre broadband, which enables users to download a hi-definition TV show in 15 seconds instead of the typical three minutes or more with standard broadband, increased in June to 10,000 per week.
Prior to that, about 6,000 customers per week had been signing up for full-fibre broadband, BT said.
The network operator has a new goal to provide fibre coverage to 3.2 million of the hardest to reach premises of the UK by the mid-2020s
BT’s networking arm, Openreach, has announced plans to bring full fibre to 3.2 million homes and businesses in ‘Area 3’ of the UK by 2025/26 – those geographic areas considered to be harder to reach.
This goal falls under BT’s overall ambition of spending £12 billion to connect 20 million premises by the middle of the current decade, provided it can receive support from the government and Ofcom.
Back in January 2020, Ofcom was mulling the idea of introducing a Regulatory Asset Base (RAB) approach to wholesale local access pricing for Area 3, which would allow BT to recover any fibre investment costs via their customers. At the time, the regulator said it would need BT to “provide a firm commitment to build fibre in these parts of the country” if it were to allow such an approach.
This is the latest instalment of an exclusive series analysing the UK’s biggest public sector tech deals. In partnership with GlobalData, we’ve drilled down into the most valuable tenders and awards from the last seven days. Here’s what we found this week…
The top prior information notices
This week’s featured PIN
Buyer: Highways England
Title: National technical survey and testing services
Lowdown: Highways England has unveiled plans to splash £10m on the technology underpinning a nationwide survey of the country’s road network. According to the prior information notice, the survey will harness a range of technology including bluetooth, cameras and “automatic tube counters” to monitor traffic across the network. It’s expected that the contract will have been awarded by the end of the month.
The best of the rest
Buyer: Joint Forces Command (JFC)
Title: Provision, installation, maintenance and support of new Control and Reporting Centre (CRC) Systems Interface (CSI) remote cabins
Estimated publication date: August / September 2020
Buyer: Joint Forces Command
Title: Replace the existing Bowman Key Variable Management System (BKVMS)
Deadline for registering interest: 14 September 2020