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.
Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), the increasingly popular framework that transforms security and network connectivity technologies into a single cloud-delivered platform, promises to revolutionize wide-area networking to the extent that it will soon eradicate conventional SD-WAN technology.
Kate Adam, senior director of security products at Juniper Networks, said that network leaders shouldn’t view SASE as the end of the network as it’s currently known, but as a “natural evolution in network technology, one that makes it more scalable and extensible by leveraging the public cloud global infrastructure.”
Arthur Iinuma, president of ISBX, an app development firm serving clients including Apple, Nike, L’Oreal, Warner Brothers, Lexus, and Red Bull, observed that SASE offers a cloud-based edge computing solution that gives distributed workforces secure network access. “With an increasingly remote, highly mobile workforce, this solution is needed now more than ever,” he stated.
SASE offers an entirely new network architecture that brings applications closer to end-users worldwide, as well as providing secure access. “Connectivity and security services that were previously delivered from a ‘heavy branch’ are moving to a thin branch, cloud-delivered model where networking and security come together,” Adam said. “This [approach] simplifies network and security architecture and promotes a threat-aware network with access and security policies that follow users wherever they go.”
The operator has switched on their standalone (SA) 5G network in London, Manchester, and Cardiff
Today, Vodafone has announced that it has launched the UK’s first commercial SA 5G pilots, setting the networks live in London, Manchester, and Cardiff.
As part of the deal, Ericsson will support Vodafone’s entire cloud-native 5G Core Standalone for packet core applications.
According to Vodafone, the pilots will focus on testing the various new technologies that SA 5G unlocks, such as network slicing, as well as allowing partners to trial various SA-enabled devices.
“Delivering 5G Standalone for the UK is an important step forward for our customers and our partners. The new features this delivers, such as new levels of reliability, latency and flexibility, are a gamechanger for customers and developers looking to create new applications,” said Andrea Dona, Chief Network Officer at Vodafone UK.
In the press release, Dona also drew attention to Vodafone’s investments in Multi-access edge compute (MEC) capabilities, the Internet of Things (IoT), Mobile Private Networks (MPN) and OpenRAN, suggesting that all these network elements are complementary and will benefit from SA 5G.
“When we bring all these technologies together, we open up entirely new possibilities for customers, and move beyond being a core connectivity provider to being a true digital champion,” she said.
Vodafone UK first showcased SA 5G technology with a new network built for Coventry University last summer. Now, as part of this pilot launch, a dedicated network slice has been configured for use by Coventry University in delivering virtual reality distance learning.
Vodafone is also notably trialling a SA 5G core pre-commercial network in Spain, with the technology again provided by Ericsson
NHSX has unveiled new data strategy to provide patients with better access and greater control over their health and care data.
The draft strategy ‘Data saves lives: reshaping health and social care with data’ builds on the NHS’ work undertaken to provide treatments during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The improved access to data is expected to help people in managing appointments, refill medications and speak with required health and care staff.
Moreover, patients can safely access their test results, medication lists, procedures and care plans from across all parts of the health system. This can be done via patient apps, such as the NHS App.
UK Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said: “More effective use of data will deliver better patient focused care. It will free up staff time to focus on patients and allow clinicians to make better, more informed decisions on treatment and support.
“This strategy seeks to put people in control of their own data, while supporting the NHS in creating a modernised system fit for the 21st century which puts patients and staff in pole position.”
The draft strategy also proposes to provide easier access to the right information to health and care staff through shared records and simplified information governance.
With most managers in the UK convinced of the positives of remote working, it seems as the practice is here to stay.
A new report from Owl Labs based on a poll of 500 business leaders from the UK, states that 84% of the respondents plan on keeping either hybrid, flexible or remote workers once the pandemic subsides.
Just 16% expect all of their employees to return to the offices, full-time, and those that do return to the office can expect a few changes.
As Microsoft phases out support for its mobile operating systems (OS) many Emergency Services that previously relied on Windows-based mobile computers are evaluating strategies to migrate to Android.
Android has an 85% market share globally, which makes it very user-friendly. It also offers a number of key benefits to enterprise users that aren’t available with other OS options. Of course, migrating to a new technology is not as easy as buying a mobile device from a local retail store or wireless carrier. Emergency Services IT professionals should prioritize their unique security and operational needs when shopping for a new handheld mobility solution. Here are some key questions to ask when evaluating the various OS options and comparing consumer-grade, business-grade and enterprise-grade rugged mobile computers.
The Covid-19 pandemic precipitated a huge change in working practices across the civil service, with nearly 90% of the 430,000 staff dispatched to their homes for months on end. At a recent webinar, experts from the Government Property Agency and Dell discussed what this mass remote working experiment might mean for the future of the civil service workplace
“In many ways, fixing the workplace and fixing the technology is easy. It costs money, but it’s relatively easy,” said Dominic Brankin, director of workplace services at the UK Cabinet Office’s Government Property Agency. “Supporting a change in behaviour and thinking and belief is much harder, and I think a longer road for us to travel.”
Cybersecurity researchers have shared details about eight vulnerabilities in the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) software stack of the open source real-time Zephyr OS.
Developed under the aegis of the Linux Foundation, Zephyr started at Wind River before it was acquired by Intel and eventually open sourced. The OS supports over 200 boards and counts the likes of Intel, Linaro, Texas Instruments, Nordic Semiconductor, Bose, Facebook, Google, and others as members, many of whom have devices that run Zephyr.
Security vendor Synopsys, who discovered the vulnerabilities, divides the flaws into three high-level categories. Some of the vulnerabilities can lead to remote code execution, while others could be exploited to grab confidential information like encryption keys.
In a possible sign of things to come, Sony has won a key court case in Germany that could force Domain Name Service (DNS) providers, such as Quad9 and eventually others too (Google Public DNS, OpenDNS, Cloudflare etc.), to block access to a website due to internet copyright infringement (piracy).
A DNS provider will typically work to convert Internet Protocol (IP) addresses into a human-readable form and back again (e.g. 18.104.22.168 to examplezfakedomain.co.uk). Most such services tend to be provided automatically by your broadband and mobile provider, thus operating seamlessly in the background, without you ever really being aware.
However, it’s also possible to replace the DNS from your ISP with one from a free third-party service, such as those mentioned earlier (there are many more). The vast majority of you probably won’t feel a need to use custom DNS providers, but if your ISP starts to inject content (adverts etc.) and filtering systems into your website browsing, or suffers a fault / is slow with their own DNS system, then you may decide to try a third-party service.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and Transport for London (TfL) have today confirmed that, following a recent trial on the Jubilee Line (here), they intend to proceed with their proposed plan to deploy a 4G based mobile (mobile broadband) network across the entire London Underground (platforms and tube trains) by late 2024.
The original non-commercial trial on the Jubilee Line (eastern half of the line) saw TfL install a neutral host distributed antenna system (DAS), which was supported by hundreds of kilometres of fibre optic cable that had been laid in tunnels – as well as similar surface assets to support ‘last mile’ connectivity.
Ofcom has today finalised their decision to force all UK broadband and phone providers – oddly including those that may not even deliver phone services – to offer a free (inc. zero-rated data usage), 24/7 video relay service for British Sign Language (BSL) users to contact the emergency services, via a dedicated mobile app and website.
The changes, which were first proposed back in 2019, are designed to ensure that disabled people (particularly deaf users) can access the communications services they need in an emergency (i.e. the principle that disabled people should have equivalent access to emergency communications).