Moira Roberts, Business Relationship Manager, discusses the Public Services Network (PSN) and how we can adapt to life without it
We don’t know exactly when the Public Services Network (PSN) will close. As of today, there are still over 200 applications consumed via the PSN, and hundreds of government users still need to access it. FN4G believes 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
Transitioning to cloud-based services will take time. The complete transition 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 many moving parts, and service users must remain mindful of how they will continue to consume services or applications that remain on the PSN longer than themselves.
Keeping the door open to PSN
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 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 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 and the PSN – without compromising security, introducing unnecessary costs, or causing disruption to users.
We need the flexibility to address change
The underlying network infrastructure is key to enabling organisations and departments to make the choices that will deliver the desired outcomes. 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 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 allows organisations to connect quickly without fuss, expense or disruption to cloud service providers.
What is needed is a platform that encrypts network traffic
What is needed is a platform that encrypts network traffic and 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 to ensure further digitalisation
In recent years, the cloud has become one of the biggest enablers of transformation we’ve seen. Its flexibility, scalability, control, cost and security can positively impact operations and 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 risk 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 the cloud requires a flexible and secure solution that provides governance, control and visibility now and in the future. These solutions exist and will be critical to government departments and organisations in a post-PSN world.
Written by Moira Roberts, Business Relationship Manager, Cloud Gateway
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