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.
On 20th January 2017, GDS issued a blog which had an impact on the telecoms world. The title of the blog; The Internet is Ok, reported that the Government’s Technology Leaders Network had decided that all Government data should traverse the Internet rather than the secure Public Services Network (PSN) designed by the Cabinet Office 7 years previously.
Fourteen months later, GDS announced that they have a budget of over a third of a million pounds to hire consultants to discover the User Need. We will see if this changes from the ones quoted by Keith last year from the start of the PSN project. The consultants work is targeted to start in the Summer and last until the end of 2018. Following this, it is suggested that an automated mechanism is created to implement common standards, architectural patterns, guidance and service process to test and deploy effectively a replacement for PSN.
In ths episode, Mike Thomas introduces Keith Smith of Virgin Media who talks about Why have a WAN (Wide Area Network)?
GDS Blog regarding a previous blog in January this year, where, on his last day, James Stewart explained how the Technology Leaders Network (TLN) had decided that government was now on a journey away from the Public Services Network (PSN).
However, all the people and organisations involved in PSN said that they were worried that the PSN compliance process was also set to disappear and, if it did, then that would raise big questions.
GDS intends to move away from the PSN but wants to keep its standards, community, marketplace, savings and benefits for SIROs
The principles of PSN were established in late 2008 to help Government and the wider Public Sector achieve direct cost savings and transform how Public Sector organisations operate and how they deliver citizen services.
The Government has now stated that “The internet is ‘ok’ ” and signalled its intent to move away from the PSN and future services should be made available on the Internet. So waht does this mean?
The latest development in the Cloud strategy was announced by the Government Digital Service confirming a move from ‘Cloud First’ to ‘Cloud Native’.
This white paper by The Common Framework, provides a briefing for public sector executives on how to respond to the changing policy environment.