The foundations for a common infrastructure

The Public Services Network (PSN) is a secure network of networks, built to common standards, that enables the delivery of public services from any place by any provider. It will significantly reduce the cost of telecommunications services and enable new ways of delivering public services.
PSN is a fundamental building block of the government ICT strategy and the public service reform agenda. It creates the foundations for a common infrastructure that enables the delivery of change through ICT.
PSN is expected to enable significant savings through the removal of duplicate network connections, simpler procurements and greater competition. It will enhance the ability for collaborative working between organisations, make mobile working easier and provide opportunities to exploit shared services.
When will PSN be up and running?
There is committed leadership from the top. PSN is fully endorsed by the Minister for Cabinet Office, the CIO Council and the Local Government CIO Council amongst many others. All of central government is mandated to move to PSN.
PSN is happening now. The first PSN services have been deployed in Kent and Hampshire.  Several other services are expected to gain PSN compliance in the near future.
The focus of the PSN programme is on driving the adoption of PSN services across the public sector. This entails developing plans for transition to PSN and putting in place the commercial arrangements to make it easy for public sector organisations to procure PSN services.
Procurement routes for PSN services now exist through convergence framework contracts let by the Government Procurement Service. The full PSN framework contracts for connectivity services will be awarded early in 2012.
What is the network model?
Key to the PSN vision is a common set of standards which will ensure the interoperability of all telecommunications services in the public sector. These have been specified by the PSN team in collaboration with public and private sector organisations.
The Government Conveyance Network (GCN) is the central component of the PSN that interconnects networks from multiple suppliers. PSN Services delivered to the customer may connect directly to the GCN (these are termed Direct Network Services) or indirectly through a Direct Network Service.
How do suppliers achieve PSN compliance?
A PSN-compliant service is one that adheres to the PSN obligations specified in a PSN Code. Those obligations cover governance, technical interoperability, service management, commercial approach and information assurance.
To request compliance, the supplier submits a completed PSN Code to the PSN Authority. Their adherence to the obligations is verified by the PSN Authority or by third party independent assurance and testing bodies as appointed by or approved by the PSN Authority. The PSN Authority will then issue a PSN Compliance Certificate.
Which services have already been granted PSN compliance?
The Cabinet Office has issued PSN Compliance Certificates for four network services. These are the UK’s first PSN-compliant services.
The services were delivered as part of an ‘early adoption’ project that involved Hampshire County Council, Kent County Council, Global Crossing, Virgin Media Business and the PSN team. Its aim was to establish the first PSN services and refine the processes necessary for the public sector to share services and applications via the PSN.
The four services comprise: a GCN service and a Direct Network Service provided by Global Crossing; and a GCN service and a Direct Network Service provided by Virgin Media Business.
The Direct Network Services connect the two regional networks of Hampshire and Kent to the GCN. Business services such as IP telephony and video conferencing can now be delivered between Hampshire County Council and Kent County Council, across PSN-compliant services provided by two different suppliers.
Will PSN involve investment from central or local Government?
It is expected that public sector organisations will transition to PSN as their existing contractual agreements with service providers expire, or at set change points within existing long term contracts. This will incur the normal costs associated with a change in contract or supplier. There will be a net benefit to customers as they reduce their telecommunications costs and make more efficient use of their business services.
For more information
Web: www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk

Please register to comment on this article