The reaction to the end of GCF Core Services, which has been on the cards at GDS for some time, has been met with varying reactions from jubilation to utter despair across government organisations. In a previous blog post I wrote about what changes would be happening to the PSN in the coming months and attempted to dispel the rumours and concentrate a stream of articles from GDS into a single post. As with all-things government these days, the guidance around the PSN is ever-changing and there are many twists and turns to this tale, which has led to several revisions to the previous article in a bid to keep all our customers updated on the current state of affairs. However, the latest news out of GDS is such a track change that it warrants a completely new blog.
The latest news is as follows;
The proposed replacement PSN DNS, which is due to be provided by Nominet, seems to have stalled because of lack of funding from government departments to pay for the service to be set up. GDS is working with Crown Commercial Service (CCS) to raise the funds needed to get this project off the ground, however until then anyone on the PSN will be reliant on the Vodafone DNS. This means that the current contract with Vodafone for DNS services will be extended until the replacement is functioning and customers have migrated – hopefully at some point later this year but dates are not set.
It looks like CCS is going to put out a tender to provide a new mail relay service to replace Vodafone’s mail relay service (presumably because of the massive outcry from users of the current mail relay due to it being retired with no planned alternative). The hope is that the tender can be turned around quickly so a new service can be stood up by June (unlikely but one can hope…). The advice given previously around migrating away from gsi-family domains still stands though – users of PSN mail should move away from this legacy domain.
As I confirmed in my previous blog, there will be no cliff-edge with the gateways. GDS has assured us that they will continue to function until there are alternatives or there is no traffic going across them anymore. This includes the PSN –> PSN for Policing gateway, which we already had confirmation from Home Office about late last year. However, given the apparent lack of longevity in the PSN for Policing, the current gateway may remain until this network has been decommissioned.
Future Networks for Government is the initiative that GDS are running around ‘internet is okay’. It’s basically the push to get all government off PSN and using internet. Following the alpha phase of the project which was a series of high-level requirements gathering sessions that UKCloud attended, there is now a beta phase being run by a consultancy who are working on further requirements gathering from both central and local government initially with a view to widen this in the near future.
Unsurprisingly, there is now talk of a change freeze happening on the PSN around March to ensure that there is going to be as little disruption as possible whilst everything else is being ironed out. I expect we will be formally notified by our PSN Service Providers or GDS when/if this goes ahead.
TL:DR – things have been delayed, and there should be no mass panic about the end of GCF core services. We will liaise with the PSN Authority to understand what is happening and make this information available to our customers as soon as we know more, whilst also feeding back to PSN Authority as an advocate for our customers.