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GDS begins publication of PSN performance data

The government makes public data gleaned from its monitoring of the performance of the Public Services Network to help customers understand their networks

The Government Digital Service (GDS) has begun publication of performance data gleaned from the Public Services Network (PSN) as part of an effort to make things “simpler and clearer” for public sector PSN customers around the UK.

GDS said allowing customers to see the network performance that users experienced when using the PSN would help them discover and evaluate any performance issues.

It would also establish a performance baseline, and help customers understand whether or not they may need to consider renegotiating their service level agreements (SLAs) with their PSN service provider.

GDS said the data showed that the PSN was performing much better than originally planned, and well within the design targets set with network providers.

“We’ve just started collecting this performance data, and it will take a little while to see what ‘normal’ looks like, but there’s some interesting patterns starting to show up,” wrote GDS’s Simon Foster.

“For example, there’s a suggestion of a weekly pattern in the data. We can also see there was some network reconfiguration on a couple of days that caused a few packets to get delayed or dropped.”

The data currently available covers three key metrics: round trip latency, how long it takes data to travel across the network and back; jitter experienced when delivering applications, such as voice and media streaming; and packet loss, where data packets are lost or dropped during transmission due to issues such as network congestion, faulty hardware or inadequate cabling.

Currently, GDS’s target for latency is set at 60 milliseconds, and it is seeing an average of 11-15 milliseconds.

The target for jitter is 7-9 milliseconds for PSN real-time and application class one, where it is seeing an average of less than 0.15 milliseconds.

Finally, the target for packet loss is 0.4% for real-time and application class one, but is currently averaging just 0.3%.

More metrics will be added as time goes by, said GDS, to “enrich” the overall data available.

The government will also be asking PSN network service providers to contribute their own reports to incorporate and align in the data, enabling GDS to work with suppliers to address any issues that may occur.

Michael Bowyer, director of innovation and knowledge sharing at public sector networking association Innopsis, said that the publishing of performance data was a positive and welcome step forward, as long as the measurements used were objective, consistent, and applied to all suppliers.

"There needs to be consistency across the board, any unusual performances needs to flagged along the way, good or bad so the reader can be objective with the information provided," said Bowyer.

"My main concern relates to how they will measure new supplier’s performance which is vital for the industry and buyers alike, especially given that new suppliers may not be able to report performance risk over a number of service instances. Of course, we will assume the data as presented will easily enable users to identify service and customer satisfaction trends."

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