GDS signals end of PSN

GDS says the regular Internet is good enough for most of the work the sector needs to do – so the Public Services Network is now surplus to requirements, it seems

Posted 25 January 2017 by Gary Flood

Remember all that fuss, work and noise that went into the Public Services Network (PSN)?

Well, you can forget all of it, says the Government Digital Service – as, in the words of a new blog marking the passing of government commitment to the scheme, the ‘Internet is “OK”‘ for most of the communications we need to run in the sector.

For the past few years a lot of government (and wider public sector) services have relied on the thing, says the Service’s Director of Technical Architecture & Head of Technology James Stewart, the author of the post.

“As a high-performance network operated by multiple vendors, the PSN provides assured connections for a wide range of public sector organisations,” he goes on.

But as the UK public sector moves to public cloud services, the expectation that the PSN has a privileged position in terms of data transport “can cause confusion and adds complexity for public sector organisations and our suppliers”, he claims.

As a result, the PSN is to be bypassed and the regular Internet used for the majority of public sector traffic, as, “We reviewed our position and it was clear that everyone agreed we could just use the Internet… For the vast majority of the work that the public sector does, the Internet is OK.”

Moving away from PSN isn’t going to happen immediately, Stewart adds, noting that organisations that need to access services that are only available on the PSN will still need to connect to it for the time being and that they will need to continue to meet its assurance requirements.

But from today, he declares, “New services should be made available on the Internet and secured appropriately using the best available standards-based approaches [and] when we’re updating or changing services, we should take the opportunity to move them to the Internet.”

The blog lays out some top-level details of what the exit strategy will need to be, and ThinkDigitalPartners.com strongly recommends all users and suppliers of the Network check them out.

But it’s worth noting that the blog calmly brings to an end more than 16 years of community effort, investment and supplier collaboration into what was once held up as one of the best examples of UK state digital innovation.