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Affirmed Networks Joins Linux Foundation Networking Fund

by Angela Whiteford Angela Whiteford No Comments

Affirmed Networks is pleased to announce that we have joined the Linux Foundation Networking Fund, an organization focused on facilitating collaboration and operational excellence across the open networking projects, such as ONAP and OPNFV, that are important to our customers as they continue to transform their networks.

Founded in 2000, the Linux Foundation provides tools, training, and events to scale any open source project. The Linux Foundation has become a true force in the industry, attracting the top developers as part of an ecosystem focused on accelerating open technology development and industry adoption.

In our view, open source technologies are critical to driving innovation across the entire ecosystem.  We are honored to join the other leading companies that are already part of the Linux Foundation, as members, we look forward to contributing to the advancement of open source technologies to ensure the community remains at the forefront of innovation as the industry continues its transformation to cloud-based architectures that will support 5G.

The LFN community will come together on September 25-27, 2018 in Amsterdam for Open Networking Summit Europe, the industry’s premier open networking event, gathering enterprises, service providers and cloud providers across the ecosystem to share learnings, highlight innovation and discuss the future of Open Source Networking, including SDN, NFV, orchestration and the automation of cloud, edge, network, and IoT services.

More information on the Linux Foundation can be found here.

Cloud Native: Why Cloud Readiness Matters Right Now

by Ashwin Moranganti Ashwin Moranganti No Comments

Cloud-native architecture. The words themselves are likely to elicit a range of reactions, from apathy (“Do we even need that?”) to annoyance (“Don’t we have enough to do?”). In fact, the words should be music to the ears of mobile service providers—because “cloud-native” is a must-have for 5G.

“Cloud native” isn’t marketing hype and it isn’t a complicated architectural template. The Cloud-native 5G NG Core was designed from the ground up to support the speed, scale and service requirements of the future, much in the same way that Amazon, Google, Netflix and other cloud leaders have already done. In the simplest of definitions, a cloud-native 5G NG Core has three main characteristics:

  • It breaks traditional, monolithic network functions into microservices that are autonomous, replaceable/changeable and stateless;
  • It stores these microservices into containers that can be easily moved, arranged and managed;
  • It uses a common management tool such as Kubernetes to dynamically orchestrate the various virtual network functions (VNFs) rather than using proprietary vendor VNF managers.

From a consumer standpoint, 5G means faster speed, lower latency, and a pervasive IoT (Internet of Everything) fabric, but for mobile operators, 5G is about network slicing, innovation velocity and reducing network operating costs. In order to meet the network demands of 5G, operators need a web-scale infrastructure with dynamically reconfigurable software services –similar to what the Amazon and Google have for cloud services.

The payoff of a cloud-native 5G NG Core is enormous. It allows you to develop and deploy new services/applications much faster using continuous Agile and DevOps methodologies, gives you a network that can hyperscale efficiently (because the NFs are stateless) and provides more agility and flexibility by moving microservices into Docker containers that can be centrally orchestrated through an open-source tool such as Kubernetes. As you can see, a cloud-native architecture doesn’t compete with the goals of NFV/5G, it supports them and in many cases turbocharges them.

Yes, you can try to build an NFV/5G network without a cloud-native architecture. But, sooner or later, you’re going to hit a wall in terms of the performance, scale and cost savings you achieve. Cloud native isn’t a question of “If,” but “When.” If your NFV/5G vendor doesn’t have a clear path to cloud-native capabilities in their solutions today, you may not have a clear path to creating a cloud-based network in the future. It’s a path we set out on from the beginning when we first designed our virtual EPC to support microservices, containers and service automation/orchestration. If you want a cloud-native core from a leading NFV/5G vendor, talk to us to ensure you don’t find yourself playing an expensive game of cloud catch-up while your competitors lead the way with innovative new services and better customer experiences.

5G’s Need for Speed: Why 5G Performance Matters

by Angela Whiteford Angela Whiteford No Comments

5G performance places unique demands on the network in terms of routing, scalability and services. But more than anything else, 5G has a need for speed. It’s actually more like an insatiable appetite.  This is due to the exponential rise in high-bandwidth data traffic (e.g., video), the creation of data-rich services and the introduction of billions of “talking” machines via the Internet of Things (IoT) that will require significantly more data-processing horsepower in the network.   This is particularly true in critical areas such as the mobile core. So where will mobile operators find this extra power? We believe the answer is: From Affirmed Networks and ecosystem partners such as Intel.

5G Performance Testing: Findings & Results

Recently, Intel and Affirmed, in cooperation with Dell and Spirent, completed performance testing of Affirmed’s virtualized Evolved Packet Core (vEPC) that demonstrated 151 Gbps throughput on a single Xeon-based server. To put that into perspective, that’s 5-10X faster than what can be delivered today by purpose-built mobile core offerings or competitive virtualized offerings. These results confirm what we’ve known all along: virtualized network functions (VNFs) that leverage the latest server technology and architected for high data plane throughput are the best path to building high-speed, high-capacity networks.

The 5G performance tests demonstrated:

Processor Throughput Throughput with 100% Deep Packet Inspection (DPI)
Intel Xeon Platinum processor-based server

 

150Gbps 120Gbps
Intel Xeon Gold processor-based server

 

100Gbps 80Gbps
  • Single-server packet processing rates of 26 million packets per second (based on a standard 650-byte packet);
  • Linear scalability—even when full deep packet inspection (DPI) capabilities are activated;
  • Additional processing headroom under high-use conditions, with CPU and I/O utilization rates of only 60 to 80 percent.
  • Testing conducted on Affirmed’s latest software release for its 5G Mobile Core that supports which support CUPS, 5G NR, automated service provisioning, fine grained network slicing, and integrated virtual probes

Intel Performance Infographic

The numbers clearly prove that a virtualized mobile packet core is the best path to achieving substantially higher levels of scale, performance and efficiency for high-capacity, data-intensive workloads. Of course, not all virtual mobile packet cores are created equal, nor can anyone else make this claim. In the past, for example, legacy packet core vendors have struggled with maintaining high performance during DPI processing, in some cases reporting that performance was halved when DPI was activated on all packets. Affirmed’s vEPC solution, however, features fast-path optimization that, in the latest performance results, reveals performance levels of 120 Gbps per server even when DPI is turned on for all packets.

Our vEPC is optimized for Intel’s new generation of Xeon Scalable processors as well as high-capacity network interface cards (NICs), enabling our vEPC to deliver superior levels of performance on Intel-based servers, both now and with subsequent generations of the technology. Affirmed’s solutions are designed to support real-world environments on real-world servers. In the latest performance tests, Spirent’s Landslide platform was used to simulate an environment 1 million subscribers running extremely high volumes of UDP, TCP, HTTP and TTPS data traffic.

For years, traditional mobile core providers have suggested that NFV is unproven when it comes to handling the workloads of the future. These latest performance results from Affirmed and Intel clearly prove otherwise. In fact, we would say that the burden of proof has shifted to the other side of the aisle (hardware). Can your current mobile core vendor offer a path to the future that the performance and unlimited scale at a fraction of the cost?

For more information, download the complete performance report.

Is Your RAN Vendor Trying to Sell You a Mobile Core? Run in the Other Direction

by Ashwin Moranganti Ashwin Moranganti No Comments

It’s pretty obvious, but building a car is vastly different than building a house.  It requires significantly different tools, skills and processes. That said, if the company that built your home offered to sell you a minivan they designed and built themselves, you’d most likely decline—even if they offered their minivan at a great price.

While that illustration may seem obtuse, the message behind it is not.  Specifically, through our work with the world’s leading operators, we see the same mistake being made from time to time when they buy mobile core solutions from their RAN providers. Think about it.  RAN vendors are in the business of selling hardware—lots of it. Today’s mobile core vendors are in the business of reducing hardware through virtualization and anticipating the decoupled service architecture of 5G. Although RAN and mobile core technologies are designed to work together, they’re worlds apart in terms of how they’re built.

Buying a radio-core combination from your RAN vendor is a bad idea for several reasons:

  • You’re probably settling for a second-rate core. No vendor is going to be best-of-breed in everything; at best, they may do a few things well. If a vendor is making 90% of their money selling hardware, they’re probably not the right people to entrust with your cloud/virtualization strategy. Mobile cores are a science unto themselves; it’s why some companies like Affirmed Networks are 100% focused on building virtual mobile core solutions. It’s a different game.
  • Market competition fosters innovation and drives down prices. Market consolidation stifles innovation and drives up prices. Think about Boeing, Airbus and the airline industry: Is that what you want for the telecom industry as it embarks on a new era of growth ushered in by the arrival of 5G?
  • You’re selling the vision of 5G short. 5G is all about disaggregating components in the network and providing open interfaces, not building a proprietary system based on one vendor’s architecture. If you approach your 5G mobile core the same way you approached your 3G core, you stand to miss out on many of the benefits that 5G brings to the network.

What exactly are the benefits that a best-of-breed mobile core can bring to your business? We’re glad you asked. Let’s look at what it means for some of our customers:

  • It means having a cloud-native, 5G mobile core right now, not three years from now when we get around to it on our roadmap.
  • It means virtualized network functions that are already decoupled to scale efficiently, deliver high performance and accelerate service creation. And remember, these aren’t just requirements for the future, they’re benefits that can drive revenue and deliver a significant competitive advantage today.
  • It means unique innovations you won’t find anywhere else, such as virtualized network probes that deliver rich network insights without impacting network performance and a built-in service automation platform that can create new micro- and macro-services in minutes.

Look, we understand the appeal of saving money on your mobile core and having one throat to choke. But wouldn’t it be better not to have to choke any throats at all? You wouldn’t drive a car designed by your architect, or live in a home built by your mechanic. Why settle for a virtualized mobile core deigned by your legacy hardware vendor? After all, you’re going to have to live with that decision for a long time.

Is Your RAN vendor Trying to Sell You a Mobile Core? Run in the Other Direction

by Ashwin Moranganti Ashwin Moranganti No Comments

It’s pretty obvious, but building a car is vastly different than building a house.  It requires significantly different tools, skills and processes. That said, if the company that built your home offered to sell you a minivan they designed and built themselves, you’d most likely decline—even if they offered their minivan at a great price.

While that illustration may seem obtuse, the message behind it is not.  Specifically, through our work with the world’s leading operators, we see the same mistake being made from time to time when they buy mobile core solutions from their RAN providers. Think about it.  RAN vendors are in the business of selling hardware—lots of it. Today’s mobile core vendors are in the business of reducing hardware through virtualization and anticipating the decoupled service architecture of 5G. Although RAN and mobile core technologies are designed to work together, they’re worlds apart in terms of how they’re built.

Why You Shouldn’t Buy a Radio-Core Combination from RAN Vendors

Buying a radio-core combination from your RAN vendor is a bad idea for several reasons:

  • You’re probably settling for a second-rate core. No vendor is going to be best-of-breed in everything; at best, they may do a few things well. If a vendor is making 90% of their money selling hardware, they’re probably not the right people to entrust with your cloud/virtualization strategy. Mobile cores are a science unto themselves; it’s why some companies like Affirmed Networks are 100% focused on building virtual mobile core solutions. It’s a different game.
  • Market competition fosters innovation and drives down prices. Market consolidation stifles innovation and drives up prices. Think about Boeing, Airbus and the airline industry: Is that what you want for the telecom industry as it embarks on a new era of growth ushered in by the arrival of 5G?
  • You’re selling the vision of 5G short. 5G is all about disaggregating components in the network and providing open interfaces, not building a proprietary system based on one vendor’s architecture. If you approach your 5G mobile core the same way you approached your 3G core, you stand to miss out on many of the benefits that 5G brings to the network.

What exactly are the benefits that a best-of-breed mobile core can bring to your business? We’re glad you asked. Let’s look at what it means for some of our customers:

  • It means having a cloud-native, 5G mobile core right now, not three years from now when we get around to it on our roadmap.
  • It means virtualized network functions that are already decoupled to scale efficiently, deliver high performance and accelerate service creation. And remember, these aren’t just requirements for the future, they’re benefits that can drive revenue and deliver a significant competitive advantage today.
  • It means unique innovations you won’t find anywhere else, such as virtualized network probes that deliver rich network insights without impacting network performance and a built-in service automation platform that can create new micro- and macro-services in minutes.

Look, we understand the appeal of saving money on your mobile core and having one throat to choke. But wouldn’t it be better not to have to choke any throats at all? You wouldn’t drive a car designed by your architect, or live in a home built by your mechanic. Why settle for a virtualized mobile core designed by your legacy hardware vendor? After all, you’re going to have to live with that decision for a long time.

Learn more about our mobile core solutions.