The public sector impacts every aspect of society, providing all public services in the UK. It is crucial that this expansive sector is provided with secure network solutions due to its high demand and employment rates reaching up to 5.6 million people in March 2021. The pandemic has placed unprecedented pressure on public services, which have had to cope with increased costs, large workforce absences and the difficulties of providing services while maintaining social distancing. This has lead to the public sector making a greater use of technology as organisations were forced to develop new ways of working.
In the current climate where remote solutions are demanded sector-wide, it has become more essential than ever to securely move workloads across networks. Networks are the hardware and software that enable computers to share resources and exchange data. As the digital era enacts industry-wide change, there is a growing emphasis on future public sector network services to implement digital transformation. It is essential that the public sector adapts to network solutions in order to provide secure connectivity between it’s organisations, services and users. By harnessing network connections, the public sector will be able to break through existing connectivity limitations and mobilise workforces.
As the government retires it’s Public Services Network (PSN) due to its technology and architectural network design becoming outdated, expensive and hard to secure, it is accelerating the migration to modern network solutions. These modernised networks offer more competitive commercial terms, greater flexibility and scalability, prompting the reimagination of the future networks in the public sector.
How networks aid the public sector
When conceptualising a future vision of networks within the public sector, it is essential to consider the functional demands of this vast industry and the current role that networks play. Government, businesses and civil society are increasingly faced with complex societal problems and managing these challenges may result in lengthy processes of policy making, implementation, and public service delivery that are increasingly hard to manage. Complex processes and decision-making span the public sector across every industry. A prime example of these large-scale, high stakes processes is the organisation of integrated healthcare and social services that require close cooperation between various health, welfare, social, and housing organisations.
These difficult issues involve many organisations and individuals, which can result in chaotic processes with unexpected and unwanted outcomes. Therefore, these complex scenarios require network solutions that secure connectivity to move workloads and communications between each party, creating a seamless integrated approach to high pressure, multi-organisational projects.
Embracing the transition to a Cloud First initiative
The network is considered one of the most critical resources in an organisation, providing the means of transmitting essential data from one computer to another. Networks are categorised as internets, intranets and extranets. The Internet is a collection of individually managed networks, connected by intermediate networking devices, that function as a single large network. Intranet refers to a privately maintained computer network that can be accessed only by authorised persons and is limited to one institution, whereas extranet is an extension of an institution’s intranet, used to connect business partners.
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The Public Service Network (PSN) was the Government’s former high-performance network, which helped public sector organisations to work together, reduce duplication and share resources. The PSN was created over 10 years ago and it is now a legacy network. It was retired as the internet is suitable for the majority of the work the public sector does. The government has now instructed organisations within the sector to modernise their infrastructure to meet the UK Government’s Cloud First Policy.
Furthermore, the Government is encouraging public sector organisations to consider and fully evaluate potential Cloud solutions before considering any other option. This approach is mandatory for the central Government and strongly recommended to the wider public sector. Users of Cloud services should be able to unilaterally provision computing capabilities, like server time and network storage, as needed without requiring human interaction with each service provider.
Conceptualising future networks
Today’s widespread use of networks extends the reach of organisations as many technology options exist to transport, secure, protect, and encrypt sensitive and confidential data between the mainframe and authorised clients. Network data has advanced, now harnessing the ability to flow through an even greater variety of mechanisms: communication software and hardware, telephone wires, broadband cable, wireless and microwave transmission units, satellite, fibre optics. Therefore, today’s industry wide networks and transactional systems must be able to support an unpredictable number of concurrent users and transaction types. This ability will revolutionise how networks operate within the public sector.
Alan Hayward is sales and marketing manager at SEH Technology