Infrastructure > Cloud

Innopsis looks ahead to future PSN options

David Bicknell Published 23 February 2017

Network providers association’s roundtable on Mar 9 will focus on what the future looks like for PSN


Phil Gibson, chair of Innopsis, the industry association for network providers to the UK public sector, has discussed the outlook for the Public Services Network (PSN) ahead of a roundtable taking place next month.

Looking ahead to the future for local authority PSNs – several of which will be come up for re-procurement in a couple of years’ time - Gibson suggested that more than half of all local authorities currently benefit from an arrangement in which PSN is a regional network that links different organisations with trusted communications and with buying power they could not get alone.

“Most are proud of their PSN networks so I think they will be renewed, but the technology behind those networks will change. The other side of PSN is information governance - the services that can only be accessed over PSN connections. I think this will change, but it will be led by the departments that own the data because that's where the buck stops, not users or central policy units.”

The roundtable, on March 9, takes place against the backdrop of the recent Government Digital Service (GDS) blog which argued that for the vast majority of the work that the public sector does, ‘the internet is ok’ and that the government is on a journey away from the PSN.

Asked whether the GDS announcement surprised him, Gibson said, “I think the black and white nature of it, i.e. the internet is fine for everything, surprised me. That's simply not the case, we know that some organisations have told their people that it doesn’t apply to them.”

Gibson has advice for organisations, typically in local government, that have committed to  existing PSN contracts.

“There are not many long term contracts out there that are not delivering good value. As a supplier I have seen some very hard negotiations take place! Going forward, customers need to talk to their suppliers about next generation solutions that do the same job more economically. As I said, for many it is a commercial benefit, not one based on security rules that are behind their use of PSN. However until the departments that are guardians of sensitive data say that it’s all fine to be accessed over the Internet, a PSN connection is still a necessity for many.

Discussing the options for a PSN future, Gibson said, “We now have a host of technology options that were not available when PSN was created and of course a 'cloud first 'policy driving a different type of network.

"Coupled with a new understanding of where and why PSN is needed in terms of information governance, this forum has plenty to discuss. For example, what is the reality of sensitive information sharing across the public sector? Is it really the case that everything can travel across the internet and if not, how do we deal with the exceptions? Secondly, what are the new technology options for small and large scale public sector networks and where will we be in five years’ time?”

The Innopsis roundtable is being held between 2pm and 4.30pm at the Institute of Directors in London on March 9.

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