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

Compliance

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.

To see the documentation, please click here

Tom Read talks GDS’s future strategy

Tom Read talks GDS’s future strategy

Tom Read was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of the Government Digital Service in February 2021 – and he’s been busy since then!

For this month’s episode, Tom reflects on his tours inside and outside of digital government, takes us through the newly-launched GDS strategy for 2021-2024 and offers his take on why we’re switching gears from start-up mode – without losing any of GDS’s “secret sauce”…

UK government launches new £210m AI and quantum computing centre

UK government launches new £210m AI and quantum computing centre

The Government of UK has launched a new artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum computing centre with an investment of £210m in North West England.

Based in the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Daresbury Laboratory in the Liverpool City Region, Hartree National Centre for Digital Innovation (HNCDI) will create vacancies for 60 additional scientists.

The government collaborated with tech giant IBM to launch the new facility.

Through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the UK government will make approximately £172m investment over five years, with £28m investment to come in the first year.

The remaining £38m funding is provided by IBM.

HNCDI will combine AI and quantum computing to support the latest technologies in industry and the public sector.

UK science minister Amanda Solloway said: “Artificial intelligence and quantum computing have the potential to revolutionise everything from the way we travel to the way we shop.

Government Suppliers need a Carbon Reduction Plan in order to Bid

Government Suppliers need a Carbon Reduction Plan in order to Bid

On 5th June 2021 the Cabinet Office issued Procurement Policy Notice PPN 06/21 ‘Taking account of carbon reduction plans in the procurement of major government contracts’.

The new guidance will apply to new Central Government procurements dated after 30th September 2021 over £5m and will require the following from the bidding supplier:-

Oracle and Crown Commercial Service renew MoU to continue cloud use

Oracle and Crown Commercial Service renew MoU to continue cloud use

Oracle and the UK government’s Crown Commercial Service (CCS) have renewed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) such that the supplier will facilitate access to its cloud infrastructure as well as its suite of cloud-delivered applications.
The agreement also covers the beefing up of what the supplier describes as its “government centre of excellence” to provide support and technical expertise to help public sector organisations make better use of Oracle Cloud.

Oracle and the government first signed a MoU in 2012, and last updated the arrangement in September 2019. Today’s renewal will last for three years, the supplier has confirmed.

The updated MoU will ensure that central, local and devolved governments, as well as all public service departments and agencies, such as NHS Trusts, are able to make continued use of Oracle Cloud. Public services will have access to the full suite of Oracle Cloud applications.

Network automation is ‘essential’ to Vodafone’s bid to become a true technology company

Network automation is ‘essential’ to Vodafone’s bid to become a true technology company

Vodafone’s ambition of being a true technology company, rather than a mere provider of telecoms services, is well documented. It is a strategy that permeates through its various projects at a UK and Group level, most recently through its extended partnership with Google Cloud.

Specifically, the Newbury-based firm wants to become a more agile, data-driven organisation capable of powering entirely new services that generate new sources of revenue for both itself and its customers. It wants to be a driver of innovation rather than just a vehicle.

In the UK, investments in fibre, 5G and IoT are all essential in achieving this goal. But central to everything is the transformation and consolidation of its mobile and fixed core networks into a single platform – Redstream.

NHSX launches dynamic purchasing system for digital social care records

NHSX launches dynamic purchasing system for digital social care records

It has established a framework as part of the Digital Social Care Records Programme that was introduced in September 2020.

Initially, the DPS includes four suppliers – iplanit by Asprico, everyLIFE, Person Centred Software, and Nourish.

NHSX expects other suppliers to become a part of the DPS over the next few months, and by November 2024, this is expected to be in place.

In a blogpost, NHSX assistant director of programmes Pete Skinner and programme manager for market engagement and standards Claire Hessey said: “In October 2020, we began engaging with suppliers, the social care sector and the Professional Records Standards Body to understand the priorities and functionality that carers and care managers need. These were then built in as minimum requirements that all suppliers must meet.

“We also included a number of optional capabilities to help social care providers narrow down the systems available to those that best meet their needs.

“We will be continuing to work with the sector to develop purchasing guidance, helping to highlight key areas that a provider should think about to ensure that they are buying the solution that best supports them.”

The move is claimed to be in line with a push for higher interoperability with NHS systems, including shared care records.

NHSX plans to offer more support to the social care sector in the months to come through integrated care systems.

Procurement frameworks for IT don’t deliver true out-of-the-box functionality

Procurement frameworks for IT don’t deliver true out-of-the-box functionality

In September 2020, the twelfth iteration of the G-Cloud framework was issued, demonstrating that the framework and its use continue to be fully endorsed by The Crown Commercial Service and the government departments it supports.

This latest release and the programmes of work across Westminster affirm that cloud, out-of-the-box and SaaS (Software as a Service) are very much the solutions of choice for government and the private sector. The benefits of SaaS support this trend and are incredibly attractive to all; the promise of reduced time to implement, operational cost reduction and increased scalability are hard to ignore.

Frameworks such as these provide government with an assured, transparent way of procuring services, and as they mature, the time to procure and the success of using them increases. However, they often miss two key factors – organisational readiness and supplier management – and require more input and expertise from public sector customers than their off-the-shelf functionality would suggest.

DWP signs £27m Crown Hosting contract extension due to ‘security requirements’

DWP signs £27m Crown Hosting contract extension due to ‘security requirements’

The Department for Work and Pensions has signed a £25m-plus contract extension with Crown Hosting Data Centres.

The DWP claimed that, while it has an overall “strategy to increase its footprint in the cloud”, it still has a need to keep some programs in the dedicated datacentre facility provided to the department by Crown Hosting.

“Following the purchase of four datacentre rooms in 2015… the rental is due for renewal,” the contract notice said. “Some applications will remain in the DC due to security requirements whilst others will become obsolete during their tenure. This facility therefore remains a key strategic requirement for the foreseeable future.”

The extension of the hosting deal commenced on 1 June and lasts for five years. It is valued at £26.6m.

The DWP indicated that, as work goes on to move more systems to a cloud environment, the contract allows for a reduction in capacity.

The acceleration to cloud is causing a monitoring migraine

The acceleration to cloud is causing a monitoring migraine

From a technology perspective, one of the biggest changes we’ve seen over the past year has been a dramatic acceleration in cloud computing initiatives. The pandemic has proven once and for all that cloud computing really does work, even in the most challenging of circumstances, providing greater speed, agility and resilience.

And with this new level of trust and appreciation of cloud computing, huge numbers of businesses have gone from running only a handful of applications in the cloud to wanting to shift significant parts of their IT estate over to a cloud environment, as quickly as they possibly can.

Indeed, as organisations have rushed through digital transformation programs to deliver new digital services to both customers and employees during the pandemic, most have relied heavily on the cloud to enable them to move at the required speed and scale.

BT launches ‘unbreakable’ small business Wi-Fi to boost connectivity, coverage,

BT launches ‘unbreakable’ small business Wi-Fi to boost connectivity, coverage,

BT launched a new business unit which will serve the millions of UK firms which are either small by design or just starting up. Together with the launch of the UK’s ‘unbreakable’ Wi-Fi for micro-businesses which guarantees coverage across the workplace, full fibre speeds of up to 900Mbps and free tech expert support the new unit will help the UK’s smallest firms to rebuild and get set for growth.
More than 95% or around 5.7 million of the UK’s private sector companies are micro-businesses with up to nine employees. These range from home-based businesses and start-ups to more established firms with a single site.
BT is so convinced by the high-growth potential of this market known as single/small office, home office (SoHo) and its role in powering the post pandemic recovery, that it has carved out a new unit to focus on the digital and connectivity needs of home based and single site businesses.
As well as delivering business grade connections which offer value for money and a premium customer service experience, BT will launch a new suite of services and apps to help the UK’s smallest and fledgling firms grow by building stronger digital foundations. These new services could include stronger cyber security measures, free digital skills training and new digital advertising tools, for example.