Vodafone’s GSi Convergence Framework core services ‘too interdependent’ to unbundle

The Crown Commercial Service has said that it does not make financial sense for Vodafone or the government to unbundle core services provided by the company through the Government Secure Intranet Convergence Framework.

Unbundling Vodafone’s legacy services ‘doesn’t make financial sense’ – Photo credit: Fotolia

The GSi Convergence Framework (GCF) – which is used to purchase IT services – ended on 16 August 2015, at which point it closed for new business, and all existing GCF contracts are due to end by March 2017.

The aim was to unbundle the core services provided through the GCF to reduce costs and provide public sector customers – of which there are more than 600 – with more choice.

However, Tony Brown, category lead at the Crown Commercial Service said that, from April 2017, GCF customers will need to continue to buy all the core services – Vodafone DNS, Mail Relay and Peer-to-Peer – as a bundle until they stop using these services.

“The core services are too interdependent for unbundling to make financial sense for Vodafone or government, particularly following government’s renewed commitment to Cloud First,” Brown said, adding that the legacy services would be provided until March 2019.

He said that the CCS and the Government Digital Service are “working closely with Vodafone to reduce and eventually remove the need for these legacy core services”, and that this work would be carried out with “principle government departments”.

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Meanwhile, Brown said that it was expected that Vodafone would offer the legacy core services as a bundled package alongside Public Service Network connectivity through the RM1045 Network Service Lot 1 for those customers that take PSN connectivity from Vodafone.

For customers that have PSN connectivity from other suppliers, it is expected that Vodafone will offer the legacy core services as a bundled package through G-Cloud 9 – which is due to go live in May 2017.

In the meantime, customers waiting for G-Cloud 9 will be covered by an implied contract with Vodafone that will run from the date of expiry of their GCF contract to the launch of G-Cloud 9.

These offers will be available as direct award, Brown said, although further details are still being finalised and will be published as soon as available.

DNS protection

Brown also urged customers to pre-register to use the National Cyber Security Centre’s UK public sector Domain Name System services, which aim to offer public sector customers with a reliable protection against DNS malware, such as phishing emails.

It will be configured to not resolve any lookups for domains that are known to be used for malware distribution or operations, and is part of the government’s active cyber defence strategy.

There are DNS services available for both PSN-connected organisations – which will replace existing services purchased through the GCF – and internet-connected organisations, and organisations can register for both at the same time.

However, the PSN DNS services are set to go live later than the internet DNS service because of delays in implementing a clean migration from current legacy PSN DNS service.

According to the NCSC, the internet DNS service should be available from April 2017, but the PSN DNS resolver service will not go live until summer 2017.

In an update on the DNS services on 25 January, the NCSC said: “In order to ensure that these dependencies are managed properly there will unfortunately be a delay to the go-live date of the new PSN DNS service. We now expect the protective DNS service for PSN-connected organisations to be available from Summer 2017.”

Brown said that the CCS was working with Vodafone to “make sure we have all the DNS data we need and that the data is simplified to give consistent behaviour for all PSN customers, whichever part of PSN they’re on”.

The Government Digital Service revealed last month that the PSN would be phased out, with head of technology James Stewart saying that the “internet is adequate for most services” and that all new services should be made available on the internet from now on.


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