Opinion: Preparing for a world with and without PSN

Moira Roberts is an advocate for the positive impact technology can have on delivering better outcomes and experiences for UK citizens. She has over 25 years of experience working with the Police, Justice and Emergency Services, having spent ten years working for Airwave, first as a Service Delivery Manager and then latterly as an Account Director. Moira is currently Business Relationship Manager at Cloud Gateway. She discusses the impact of the possible closure, or continuation, of the PSN.


We don’t know exactly when the Public Services Network (PSN) is going to close. As of today, there are still over 200 applications consumed via the PSN, and hundreds of government users that still need to access it. FN4G believe the PSN will remain in some capacity for at least five years, perhaps indefinitely. However, there is still an ongoing drive to migrate applications away from the PSN in favour of cloud-based services, consumed over the internet.  

Transitioning to cloud-based services will take time. The complete transition away from the PSN will require careful planning and many organisations have already begun exploring alternative connectivity options. For now, the biggest challenge facing government organisations and departments is negotiating a transition period where some services and applications have moved away from the PSN and others haven’t. There are a lot of moving parts and it’s important that service users remain mindful of how they will continue to consume services or applications that remain on the PSN longer than themselves.


Keeping the door open 

For the time-being, government departments need continued and secure access to the PSN and its services throughout their transition – with the flexibility to consume new services, some of which may need access back into the PSN.  

From my experience, nearly all central government departments have decided on a dual cloud approach, often opting for AWS or Google for new applications and Microsoft Azure for legacy. However, there’s a layer of complexity with this approach that’s compounded when you factor in operationally critical on-premises applications, in addition to back-office HR and ERP functions that also utilise other cloud providers, such as Oracle and Workday (AWS).  

The solution isn’t simply PSN or cloud, but rather PSN and individual cloud service providers with their own strengths and weaknesses. By utilising multiple providers for different services and applications, departments can achieve the best return on their investment in terms of performance and cost. 

It’s a hybrid approach that requires strong digital credentials. One that gives departments a digital foundation to deliver access to services on the PSN, whilst also connecting rapidly and securely to a range of new cloud service providers or cloud hosted applications. For the most part, this means a connectivity platform that connects seamlessly to multiple cloud service providers as well as the PSN – all without compromising on security, introducing unnecessary costs, or causing disruption to users.

cable network

The flexibility to address change 

The underlying network infrastructure is key to enabling organisations and departments to make the choices that will deliver the outcomes they need. Whether the solution is located on-premises, in the cloud or through the PSN, organisations should have the ability to choose the best tool for the job and these should be able to work together.  

Consuming and leveraging these types of technologies and services requires a solid network footing that facilitates hybrid and multi-cloud architectures. An agile and flexible network that can deliver cross-network connectivity between PSN services and cloud services. Simultaneously, it also allows organisations to connect quickly and without fuss, expense or disruption to cloud service providers.   

What is needed is a platform that encrypts network traffic, manages its movement through a central enforcement point, from the business to any or many cloud service providers, including the PSN. Introducing an ecosystem of network and security functionality relieves the burden of excessive cost, long lead times or security implications. Instead, it provides organisations with a platform between traditional networking infrastructure and cloud services. Alongside the ability to connect seamlessly without disruption or impact to users, at a pace suitable to their needs.  


Secure connectivity  

In recent years, cloud has become one of the biggest enablers of transformation we’ve seen. Its flexibility, scalability, control, cost and security have the power to positively impact operations, power services and change how public sector organisations serve citizens. Government departments are now at a point where they must demand the same from the networks that serve them, otherwise they run the risk of becoming an obstacle to further digitalisation.  

As we wait for a concrete shut off date, organisations need to retain access to services on the PSN while also having the ability to connect rapidly and securely to a range of cloud service providers. The challenge of transitioning services from the PSN to cloud requires a flexible and secure solution that provides governance, control and visibility now and in the future. These solutions do exist and will be critical to the government departments and organisations in a post-PSN world.

Mark Jennings previously wrote on InfoTec about the need for the public sector’s digital transformation to be simple and effective to provide the best service for both the public and government users alike.

Featured image by Taylor Vick


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