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Unlock Your Innovation: Unlean from Single-Sourcing Your Technology

by Ashwin Moranganti Ashwin Moranganti No Comments

It’s time to take the future back from equipment vendors and return it to the operators and the innovators!

Coming from a vendor, that’s a bold statement, so let me explain. For too long, telco operators have leaned on their equipment vendors to provide their platform of the future. Understand this: If you’re looking to a single vendor to solve your problems, you’re looking to get locked into someone else’s future. Instead, telco operators need to stop leaning on a single source, and learn to unlean by using open-source technology and best-of-breed solutions from many vendors.

At Affirmed, we call this disaggregation. Even in a network where hardware has been virtualized, there is still a lot of proprietary functionality found in so-called virtualized network functions (VNFs). Disaggregation proposes reducing these VNFs down to their application logic and delivering everything else through a common, shared Platform as a Service (PaaS): lifecycle management, databases, service mesh, monitoring, logging, etc. Disaggregation dramatically reduces the cost and complexity of the network, and gives operators the agility they need to rapidly create and innovate in the coming 5G environment.

 

Disaggregation Will Help Telco Operators Moving Forward

The idea of Disaggregation is, of course, very different from how many telco operators have constructed their networks in the past. Historically, telco networks were built using a mix-and-match approach from various vendors. Each vendor’s solution had their own CLI, database, lifecycle management, redundancy scheme and so on. Operators, in turn, learned how to use all these different tools, and were (not surprisingly) afraid to add new vendors to the mix for fear that they wouldn’t “fit” into their existing architecture. This approach didn’t encourage innovation, but stifled it.

With server virtualization, telco operators began to see the value of simplification and unification. But the real value of virtualization occurs when operators move beyond hardware and virtualize their underlying services platform. For example, in order to orchestrate the VNFs, the operator builds a multivendor orchestration system, which then needs to communicate with vendors’ proprietary VNF managers. Instead, what if all vendors simply delivered components as containers and the operator used widely adopted Kubernetes to orchestrate the containers? The same goes for service mesh, monitoring, logging and other services. Instead of operating a network designed by dozens of different vendors, you have a simple, shared architecture that features a common design and elements.

Disaggregation is at the heart of Affirmed’s new 5GC mobile core platform. Designed around open-source technology, 5GC leverages a shared PaaS architecture that allows telco operators to virtualize their networks for much higher efficiencies, improved agility and rapid delivery of new and innovative services. We see it as the difference between being a leaner and a leader. We don’t want our customers to lean on us for their future. We want to lead them to the future, which we strongly believe is open-source, cloud-native technology from the world’s most innovative companies.

Vendors still have an important role to play in the future, provided their relationship with telco operators is re-imagined around the reality that change and churn aren’t the enemy, but the opportunity. By building a software architecture around microservices and a standard PaaS layer, telco operators and their vendors can strategically respond to change and churn with agility and success. If telco operators expect to stay one step ahead in the race to 5G revenue, opening their network to more innovation is the single most important thing they can do.

Affirmed & Red Hat Power Turkcell’s Network Transformation: Deployment Represents one of the Largest Virtualized Networks in EMEA Region

by Scott Heinlein Scott Heinlein No Comments

Today, Affirmed announced a significant deployment milestone with Turkcell that represents one of the largest virtualized network deployments in the EMEA region.  Supporting more than 35 million subscribers across Turkcell’s network, the deployment is currently supporting more than 1 Terabit per second of traffic (Tbps), with the capability to support as much as 1.8 Tbps as the deployment continues to scale to support customers in the region.

Just over a year ago, we were selected by Turkcell as a critical partner chartered with supporting the operator’s network transformation.  Since then, we have quickly moved from trial to deployment, putting in place a next-generation mobile architecture that will allow them to quickly realize cost savings and service agility.

Working together with our partner, Red Hat, we have helped Turkcell complete its “Unified Telco Cloud” platform which is powered by our vEPC solution running on the Red Hat OpenStack Platform, delivering a carrier-grade infrastructure framework for building hybrid clouds and delivering new services.  We are also providing Turkcell with our GiLAN solution and providing the operator with a wide variety of services including data optimization, CGN, DPI, and control plane services that include VoLTE, PCRF, and AAA.

Turkcell believes that this network has dramatically improved their ability to deliver new services more efficiently than ever before, reducing the time-to-market by as much as three months over their legacy approach.  They are also pleased to receive CapEx reductions, reducing the overall cost of their network, and improving their competitive advantage.

We are incredibly honored to have been selected by Turkcell, who continues to prove itself as one of the most innovative Communications Service Providers in the world.  The success of the deployment is the result of a true partnership between Turkcell, Red Hat and Affirmed who worked as one to ensure the operator’s strategic network transformation was a success.

To date, Affirmed Networks has more than 90 customers across five continents, including some of the world’s largest and most innovative operators.

More information related to this deployment is available below:

The Next Frontier in Virtualization: Cloud Computing

by Ashwin Moranganti Ashwin Moranganti No Comments

Today, it’s not a question of “if” but “when” will an operator adopt a cloud based architecture for their mobile networks.  It’s happening now, and the coming arrival of 5G, which is based on a virtualized architecture, assures the continuation of this trend.

But, it wasn’t always such a concrete fact.

Rewind the clock back just four to five years and there was significant debate whether a virtualized network could deliver the scale and performance of traditional hardware-based networks.

Well, wouldn’t you know, we proved that they could with the ability to achieve performance gains of as much as 10X over legacy architectures

So, we were essentially able to get rid of those big, expensive, refrigerator-sized routers, and replace them with commercially-off the shelf (COTS) servers loaded with software capable of handling all the network functions previously performed by hardware.  Pretty cool.

The next big question now became, “can we eliminate the capital costs of those servers sitting in the Telco data centers and push them outside of the walls of the organization?”

Well, we are here to tell you “Yes!” 

In case you missed it, last week we announced that Affirmed Networks’ industry-leading vEPC is now available through Amazon Web Services, one of the most proven and reliable cloud platforms.  Becoming the industry’s first First “Mobile Network as Service” offering, it represents a cloud-based service enabling rapid, and economical deployment of 4G and 5G services.   This new offering delivers unprecedented network flexibility and provides a significant reduction in Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), providing operators with the ability to enter new markets (and acquire new subscribers) in an extremely low-cost, “pay as you go” manner.

In addition to geographical expansion, we are seeing many of our customers excited about the ability of this model to help them deliver differentiated services – such as IoT/M2M, enterprise data, MVNO wholesale and 5G — without having to make additional capital investments in infrastructure.

We share the enthusiasm of our customers around this sift, and believe it represents a game-changer that will drive more innovation, growth, and opportunities across the industry.  So, stay tuned, because if there is one certainty, it’s that innovation is constant and there are exciting days ahead.

If You Think Virtualization Is About Saving Money, You’re Missing a Lot

by Angela Whiteford Angela Whiteford No Comments

What do you think of when you hear the word virtualization? If you’re a mobile carrier, the word “virtualization” likely evokes images of massive appliances being replaced by sleek servers, perhaps with a smiling CFO in the background for added effect. Mind you, it’s not a bad image, but it’s only a small picture of what virtualization can do for your network. In fact, the money you can save by virtualizing your network hardware is small change when compared to the money you could be generating with new services from a fully virtualized mobile platform.

For years, vendors have positioned network functions virtualization (NFV) as a capex reduction play. That’s because most NFV vendors are selling virtualized versions of their legacy hardware, so the main benefit to their customers is cheaper hardware. As a company that has been truly virtualized from the start, Affirmed Networks sees things differently. We didn’t build our virtual mobile core solution just to save you money, but to make you money through agile service creation, automation, network slicing, mobile edge computing and more. If you still think of NFV as a cost-cutting measure, here are six ways that Affirmed’s cloud-native NFV solutions will have you seeing dollar signs instead…

Beat the OTT players at their own game.

OTT players aren’t encumbered by massive networks or painfully slow processes. Their credo is to fail fast and fail often in the pursuit of innovation. It’s their competitive advantage, and it can become yours too with Affirmed’s microservices-centric architecture. We designed our network for agile service creation: stateless database, decomposed services, container-based apps. It lets you quickly build, test and launch new services for small groups (i.e., microservices), which can boost your services revenue by as much as 47%.

Deploy and update services faster with far less effort.

Virtualization reduces capex, but what about opex? For that, you’ll need service automation and service chaining. Affirmed delivers both with its Affirmed Service Automation Platform (ASAP for short). By automating the provisioning and service chaining process, mobile carriers can accelerate their time to market (which can boost service revenue by 13%) and reduce opex by as much as 77%!

Get real-time analytics that really make a difference.

For years, mobile carriers have used physical probes to provide network intelligence. The trouble is, physical probes are expensive and eat up costly network bandwidth. Affirmed is the first company to offer a completely virtualized probe solution, vProbe, that doesn’t require hardware and doesn’t drain your network’s performance. vProbe delivers pervasive, real-time network analytics that can be leveraged to create new services and improve network quality.

Cut your network into profitable slices.

The Internet of Things (IoT) represents a big opportunity for those mobile carriers that figure out how to “slice” their network to support a diverse range of new communications devices, from connected cars to life-saving medical devices. Affirmed’s IoT services platform includes pre-built IoT service templates as well as easy-to-use virtual network slicing capabilities based on latency, throughput, security, availability and other requirements, so mobile carriers can deploy and monetize IoT services faster.

Create value-added services to capture more revenue.

With Affirmed’s GiLAN virtualized services environment, mobile carriers can easily create new services using a simple building-block approach. Simply chain together the service features you want (e.g., deep packet inspection, video optimization, proxy services, security) to create new services, from content filtering to ad insertion.

Bring your network experience to the edge.

Moving the mobile core experience to the network edge will be critical to delivering new latency-sensitive, high-bandwidth services such as virtual/augmented reality and self-driving vehicles. Affirmed’s mobile platform supports mobile edge computing, allowing mobile carriers to bring core services closer to the consumer for better, richer experiences.

 

As you can see, virtualization isn’t just a solution to your hardware problem, it’s a solution to your “how are we going to compete and thrive in the future” problem. At Affirmed Networks, we see virtualization as a cost saver and a revenue driver. If you’re having a conversation about virtualization and the word “innovation” isn’t part of it, you need to be talking to us.

New Whitepaper: 5G Velocity in the Distributed Cloud Era

by Angela Whiteford Angela Whiteford No Comments

With the 5G era on the horizon, service providers are re-architecting their networks to achieve the levels of performance and scalability required to support this new generation of networks.  To do so, many operators are distributing cloud infrastructure to network edge locations to enable rapid deployment of advanced network services.

Taking a specific look at evolving 4G and emerging 5G mobile networks, Affirmed Networks and Juniper Networks have commissioned a paper by one of the industry’s foremost experts that focuses on how cloud-native/microservices architectures enable service innovation and velocity.

Written by Gabriel Brown, Principal Analyst at analyst firm Heavy Reading, the paper makes the case for deploying edge infrastructure in combination with network slicing mechanisms to enable operators to create and deploy granular services, optimized to the use case and customer, using cloud-native network functions and management tools.

The paper not only looks at the new service requirements but also at the correlation between services and the architecture needed to support them.   Some of the many topics explored in detail as part of this paper include:

  • The Service-Based 5G Core Architecture
  • Distributed Cloud-Native Networks
  • Microservices for 4G/5G Core
  • Achieving True Service Velocity

Click here to obtain a copy of the full report.