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Microsoft and Affirmed: Accelerating the path to 5G Services in the Cloud

by Affirmed Affirmed No Comments

With the announcement of Azure for Operators, Microsoft has outlined a vision and strategy to unlock the power of 5G and bring cloud and edge closer than ever, opening new opportunities for service providers all over the world.

Microsoft’s recent acquisitions of Affirmed Networks and Metaswitch, while a surprise to some in the telecommunications industry, signaled  Microsoft’s long-term commitment to telecommunications industry. Telcom executives naturally had a lot of questions: What were Microsoft’s plans for 5G? How would the new acquisitions align with Microsoft’s cloud strategies? Would Microsoft’s presence accelerate the arrival of 5G? Is Microsoft looking to compete or partner with telecommunications service providers?

Today, we can answer those questions.

On September 28, Microsoft for Telecommunications hosted its inaugural Telecommunications Executive Forum. This live event showcased Microsoft’s strategy, roadmap, and technology for 5G—some of it unveiled publicly for the first time. Attendees heard about Microsoft’s vision for 5G edge computing, cloud-based telecommunications, IoT, and a lot more. (Read more about Azure for Operators).

For Affirmed, it’s an exciting time to be a part of Microsoft. Our decision to join the Microsoft family was driven by the fact that both companies shared a unique vision for 5G and, together, could accelerate that vision. So far, the experience together has been overwhelmingly positive. Our customers are more excited about 5G than ever before, and our recent customer successes validate the vision that Microsoft and Affirmed share for the future.

Since the beginning of the year, we’ve seen more and more telco operators around the world not just testing 5G technologies but embracing them:

  • In Finland, home to the world’s highest consumers of mobile services, DNA is replacing their legacy mobile core with a 5G core to serve up high-speed, high-bandwidth connections and meet consumers’ ever-expanding appetite for mobile services.
  • In Latin America, Millicom is moving to a cloud-based, 5G-ready mobile core to roll out new edge-based services to their customers such as augmented/virtual reality experiences and IoT applications.
  • In the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, Etisalat is leveraging next-generation network automation and orchestration as they continue to roll out 5G and multi-access edge computing (MEC) services.
  • In Sweden, Netmore is adopting 5G technologies to gain an early market lead on private enterprise services and IoT applications across Europe.

Bringing together the industry’s first cloud-native mobile platform and the world’s second-largest public cloud network provides telco operators with a clear, proven, accelerated path to 5G services in the cloud. Microsoft’s announcement to build a comprehensive cloud platform for 5G service providers is a game-changer for telcos. As for Affirmed, being a part of Microsoft expands the kinds of solutions we can offer our customers, including the option to consume a cloud-based mobile core platform as a service on world’s most advanced cloud computing platform.

A merger is often compared to a marriage. After the initial honeymoon, the real test of the relationship begins as you discover how well you work together. What we’ve discovered is that all the things that attracted us to Microsoft are the same things that make us stronger together. We’re both one hundred percent committed to the cloud as the next-generation platform for telecommunications. The unmatched flexibility the cloud platform offers—from on-prem deployments to mobile core as a service—enables operators to evolve at their own pace.  We both believe edge computing is integral to the success of 5G. We believe in open standards that invite innovation. We both believe in partnering, not competing, with service providers. And, most importantly, we share the same goals and dreams for the future.

In the days and months that follow, you’ll see that future unfolding. You will see how Microsoft, Affirmed, and Metaswitch teams are working together on a diversity of offerings. Microsoft’s Azure platform is a critical piece of the telecommunications industry’s future, and we’re proud to be an important part of that. For Affirmed, it’s been a long and interesting journey from a start-up with a vision of a cloud-native mobile core to being an instrumental part of Microsoft’s vision for the future of telecommunications.

The best is yet to come. We can’t wait to get started.

Read more on Azure for Operators

Affirmed Networks Wins the Best Network Automation Technology Award at 5G World Summit 2020

by Affirmed Affirmed No Comments

The 5G World Summit 2020 event program may have been a virtual one but that didn’t take away from the event’s ability to highlight the criticality of the telecommunication industry during this unprecedented time.

This was especially true in the awards program.  Consisting of 15 dedicated 5G categories, the 5G World Awards are focused on celebrating and recognizing achievement and excellence in the industry.

We are pleased to announce that Affirmed Networks was named as a “Finalist” in three categories and won the top award for “Best Network Automation Technology.”  This award was created to recognize the best network automation technology from a vendor, with judges looking for specific detail of deployments and benefits.  Deployed at several of the world’s most innovative Communications Service Providers, Affirmed’s UnityCloud Ops solution measured highest in all of these categories, providing multiple use cases demonstrating measurable benefits and cost-savings across the network.

UnityCloud Ops is gaining traction in the marketplace because operators know that successful 5G deployments will require a high degree of intelligent automation, and network slicing to create, deploy, and manage new offerings. UnityCloud Ops is capable of doing just that and provides operators with reduced OpEX, greater deployment flexibility, and service agility.

All of this is contributing to the continued adoption of UnityCloud Ops by CSPs worldwide.

In addition to being named a “Finalist” and ultimate “Winner” in the Network Automation category, Affirmed Networks was named a finalist in two other categories based on our continued success helping operators deploy virtualized 4G and 5G networks.  These categories include:

  • Best 5G Core Network Technology
  • Best Edge Computing Technology

The entire team at Affirmed Networks is honored to receive this recognition from such a respected event and esteemed group of judges.   We would like to thank 5G World for putting on such a well-run and much-needed event and would like to congratulate all of the Finalists and Winners honored during the 5G World Awards Program.

 

Netmore Selects Affirmed Networks to Enable the Delivery of Private LTE Enterprise Networks for 4G, 5G and IoT Offerings

by Affirmed Affirmed No Comments

Virtualized Network Deployment and 5G Adoption Enable the Delivery of Innovative New Services for Enterprises; Sets the Foundation for Continued Geographic Expansion Across Europe

ACTON, Mass. – August 18, 2020 – Affirmed Networks, the leader in the virtualization of mobile networks, today announced that it has been selected by Netmore Group as the partner to deliver Private LTE Enterprise Networks and infrastructure. The partnership with Affirmed will enable Netmore to also deploy 5G enterprise services including IoT.

Headquartered in Sweden, and with a presence in several European countries including the UK, Germany and Ireland, Netmore Group is a provider of IoT systems and services for properties, industries, cities and people. As part of their service offerings, Netmore delivers a range of communication technologies such as 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G, Wi-Fi and NB-IoT and is currently the leading LoRaWAN® supplier in the country.

Affirmed’s market-leading, cloud-native mobile core solution has demonstrated itself as being ideal for the rapidly growing market of private LTE enterprise networks. Enterprises’ unique requirements require that operators have the deployment flexibility enabled by Affirmed’s mature architectural attributes such as CUPS, slicing, multitenancy and low latency. As regulators release new spectrum to the market and enterprises realize the benefits of using cellular service infrastructures instead of Wi-Fi, Affirmed anticipates significant growth in private networks for business-critical enterprise services.

An important aspect in Netmore’s selection of Affirmed as a partner was its cloud-native capability including separation of the control and user plane, enabling a much higher and robust performance at the edge. With this functionality, Netmore will be able to diversify its geographic footprint and improve service performance and quality to support low-latency, high-bandwidth applications such augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR) and IoT.

After a careful evaluation of several vendors, Netmore was impressed with Affirmed’s unique architecture and diversity of features which, in their opinion, clearly outperformed the alternatives.

“After almost a year spent finding and evaluating in detail many 5G cloud-native mobile cores, we found Affirmed Networks to be the best for our modern business model.”

Stefan Stanislawski, CEO, Netmore UK

“After almost a year spent finding and evaluating in detail many 5G cloud-native mobile cores, we found Affirmed Networks to be the best for our modern business model,” said Stefan Stanislawski, CEO of Netmore UK. “In these unprecedented times, providing fast, reliable, ubiquitous connectivity and access to real-time information to our customers is more important than ever. Through our partnership with Affirmed , we aim to deliver a range of new innovative private enterprise services to our customers through our expanding global network. In our evaluation of a modern mobile core, Affirmed’s mobile core solution with its cloud-native and microservices architecture seamlessly met the service demands in a single, future-proof platform and stood out for its technology innovation.”

“Netmore is a prime example of an innovative provider that understands how the innovative deployment of a private LTE enterprise network can accelerate new revenues and transform their bottom line,” said Sanjay Mewada, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer, Affirmed Networks. “By developing innovative use cases that are supported by 5G and next-gen architectures, Netmore is demonstrating how the new breed of services – including rich-media applications such as AR/VR and IoT have the ability to serve as a catalyst for improved productivity and new experiences for enterprises and consumers.”

When fully deployed, Netmore’s private enterprise networks will serve as the foundation for supporting the company’s continued expansion to enterprises and locations across Europe.

About Netmore
Netmore Group AB is an IoT operator that develops a comprehensive solution for cities, industries, properties and homes. Together with our partners, we build a safe and sustainable ecosystem for Internet of Things, locally, nationally and globally. Netmore Group was formed in 2010 and is listed on the Nasdaq First North Growth Market since 2017. Website: netmoregroup.com

About Affirmed Networks
Affirmed Networks was founded to transform the future of the mobile industry. Our vEPC and cloud-based solutions are enabling Communications Service Providers (CSPs) to change the economics of deploying and scaling networks. CSPs have deployed Affirmed’s NFV solutions to deliver differentiated 5G services, including mobile broadband, IoT, carrier-grade Wi-Fi roaming, connected cars and more. Proven in more than 100+ networks and over 80 countries, our NFV solutions are deployed in the world’s largest networks. Affirmed Networks was acquired by Microsoft in April 2020. For more information, please visit www.affirmednetworks.com.

Etisalat Expands Relationship with Affirmed Networks to Drive Digital Operations & Automation

by Affirmed Affirmed No Comments

Affirmed’s orchestration and automation platform to accelerate deployment of digital services and next-gen infrastructure

ACTON,  MASSACHUSETTS, USA, July, 28, 2020 – Etisalat, which provides innovative solutions and services in 16 countries across the Middle East, Asia and Africa, announced today that it has further expanded its partnership with Affirmed Networks by selecting and deploying Affirmed’s comprehensive orchestration and automation platform. This platform will accelerate the automation of Etisalat’s existing and upcoming digital services and infrastructure and pave the way for a smooth, quick rollout of 5G and Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) services.

Known for its rich history of innovation, Etisalat first selected Affirmed Networks in 2016 to provide virtual packet core solutions, making Etisalat one of the first telco operators to deploy a fully virtualized mobile core. As the industry now prepares for widespread deployment of 5G and edge services, Etisalat is deploying Affirmed’s automation capabilities to:

  • Create a common activation layer across a multivendor environment capable of providing visibility and automation across the operator’s mobile, fixed and enterprise offerings;
  • Reduce the barriers to service creation and accelerate service activation across all of Etisalat’s service offerings by leveraging Affirmed’s innovative “no code” approach;
  • Accelerate the deployment of next-generation virtual and cloud infrastructure including multivendor MEC and 5G.

Affirmed Networks’ industry-leading orchestration and automation platform leverages CI/CD and DevOps models, enabling operators to adapt to new market requirements such as 5G at the speed of business. By offering a unique “no code” approach, operators can rapidly iterate service model creation and modification, expediting delivery of services tailored to unique customer requirements. Operators can reduce operational complexity and costs with integrated activation across all service domains.

Etisalat has also deployed the Affirmed Cloud Edge (ACE) solution in a successful proof of concept as part of their MEC implementation that is a stepping stone in Etisalat’s journey towards rollout of innovative new 5G services. The deployment of MEC architectures will be critical to leveraging 4G/5G and significantly reduce latency to deliver a new breed of revenue-generating services such as virtual reality gaming, autonomous driving, augmented reality, mission critical IoT and others.

Esmaeel AlHammadi, Senior Vice President, Network Development, Etisalat said: “This strategic partnership with Affirmed Networks will focus on enhancing Etisalat’s next-generation networks with advanced automation, enabling rapid provisioning of new services. This is in line with our vision and strategy to ‘Drive the digital future to empower societies’ by enabling digital innovation and transformation across our services and infrastructure. With Etisalat as one of the first operators to deploy a fully virtualised core, this collaboration will accelerate the deployment of virtual and cloud infrastructure including mobile edge computing and 5G.”

“Etisalat has long been an industry pioneer at the forefront of deploying innovative technologies and services capable of providing the best possible customer experience,” said Sanjay Mewada, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer, Affirmed Networks. “Through their ongoing digital transformation, Etisalat has gained a first-hand understanding of how automation can simplify operations and drive network agility. This has served as the foundation of our ongoing partnership and has allowed us to make great strides around the delivery of new digital services that will be supported by next-gen architecture and infrastructure including MEC and 5G.”
Etisalat is a multinational, blue-chip organization operating in 16 countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, with a history of innovation within the global telecommunication industry. Through its work with Affirmed, Etisalat is continuing this track record of innovation by demonstrating how a new generation of applications and services will be delivered to their subscribers over 4G and 5G.

About Etisalat

Etisalat Group is one of the world’s leading telecom groups in emerging markets, with consolidated net revenues at AED 52.2 billion and consolidated net profit of AED 8.7 billion for 2019. Its high credit ratings reflect the company’s strong balance sheet and proven long-term performance. Headquartered in Abu Dhabi, Etisalat was established over four decades ago in the UAE as the country’s first telecommunications service provider. An international blue-chip organisation, Etisalat Group provides innovative solutions and services to 150 million subscribers in 16 countries across the Middle East, Asia and Africa.
Website: www.etisalat.com

About Affirmed Networks

Affirmed Networks was founded to transform the future of the mobile industry. Our vEPC and cloud-based solutions are enabling Communications Service Providers (CSPs) to change the economics of deploying and scaling networks. CSPs have deployed Affirmed’s NFV solutions to deliver differentiated 5G services, including mobile broadband, IoT, carrier-grade Wi-Fi roaming, connected cars and more. Proven in more than 100+ networks and over 80 countries, our NFV solutions are deployed in the world’s largest networks. Affirmed Networks was acquired by Microsoft in April 2020. For more information, please visit www.affirmednetworks.com.

Red Hat and Affirmed Networks collaborate to help accelerate 5G deployments on Red Hat OpenShift

by Affirmed Affirmed No Comments

Service providers are transforming and virtualizing their networks in response to an increasingly dynamic market and rapid technology changes. As new opportunities for services grow, 5G has also given service providers the opportunity to increase efficiency, flexibility and elastic scale with microservices-based cloud native architectures. 

As these shifts take place, Red Hat and Affirmed are working together to help service providers adopt cloud native network functions (CNFs) for 5G Cores. Building on the foundation of Red Hat OpenShift, we’re enabling the Affirmed UnityCloud “Any G” solution to be deployed more broadly on a supported, cloud-native backbone, making it easier for telecommunications companies to more efficiently deploy 5G, 4G and 3G services backed by a common telco cloud infrastructure.  

Red Hat and Affirmed are no strangers to collaboration, with Affirmed’s virtual evolved packet core solutions (vEPC) and virtual network functions (VNFs) already deployed and supported around the world on Red Hat OpenStack Platform. Now, our relationship has expanded to include 5G on Red Hat OpenShift, with the OpenShift certification expected to complete this summer.

UnityCloud Platform is a platform of innovation and is designed to deliver automatic, self-observable and non-stop networks. UnityCloud Platform combines the strength of open source technologies with Affirmed’s carrier-grade telco and virtualization expertise. The platform provides a variety of CNF dependencies and automation frameworks to enable cloud-native functions to run seamlessly. UnityCloud Platform was designed to work on bare metal, VM based IaaS, container-based IaaS in both public and private environments.

With the extension of our collaboration, Affirmed now supports UnityCloud from the core to the edge and across public, private and hybrid cloud environments. This enables telecommunications providers to use “Any G” solutions on a broad spectrum of platforms, including Red Hat OpenShift on bare metal, Red Hat OpenShift on Red Hat OpenStack Platform and Red Hat OpenShift in the public cloud, like Microsoft Azure.

Cloud-native collaboration: Address a broad spectrum of telco needs

Through this collaboration, customers will have additional flexibility to tackle an extended set of technology scenarios, including:

  • Network Functions on Red Hat OpenShift and Red Hat OpenStack Platform: A customer or operator seeking to administer a virtual machine (VM)-based Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) that supports multiple VNFs and containerized network functions (CNFs) from different suppliers. Ideally, this deployment is based on Red Hat OpenStack Platform, where Affirmed provides UnityCloud Platform on Red Hat OpenShift and CNFs provided by Affirmed Networks and other ecosystem partners.
  • CNFs on OpenShift on baremetal: An operator wants to deploy a containerized Kubernetes-based IaaS that supports multiple CNFs from different vendors. This baremetal deployment is best suited for Red Hat OpenShift, running Affirmed Network’s UnityCloud Platform LITE and CNFs provided by Affirmed Networks and other ecosystem partners.

Red Hat OpenShift is available for a variety of cloud environments, from major public clouds including Microsoft Azure, AWS, Google Cloud Platform and IBM Cloud to private cloud and virtualized infrastructure such as Red Hat OpenStack Platform and VMware. More than just availability, the industry’s most comprehensive enterprise Kubernetes platform provides the flexibility to combine public and private resources for hybrid cloud deployments.

Running Affirmed UnityCloud on Red Hat OpenShift provides the flexibility to deploy on a myriad of private, public cloud, or hybrid cloud environments to shift or scale workloads as business needs dictate. We hear from our customers that hybrid cloud combines the flexibility to innovate more quickly with the control of on-premises datacenters, while still enabling them to use and extend existing public cloud infrastructure investments. 

With a public or hybrid cloud environment based on Red Hat OpenShift, customers can have a much higher level of agility, making it easier to move between and across different types of private and public cloud footprints. With open source software, enterprises can benefit from the continuous community innovation, a generally lower operational cost and less vendor lock-in.