Microsoft bolsters edge cloud offering with acquisition of Affirmed Networks



5G party time

As telcos move towards going live with their 5G networks Redmond is making sure it is not late to the party, with a number of major operators now on its dance card.

Microsoft is acquiring Affirmed Networks to widen its edge networking offer to telcos embarking on their 5G journeys. It is the latest big technology player to seriously tap into that market.

Yousef Khalidi, Microsoft corporate vice president for Azure Networking, said: “We believe that software can play an important role in helping advance 5G and deliver new network solutions that offer step-change advancements in speed, cost and security.

“There is a significant opportunity for both incumbents and new players across the industry to innovate, collaborate and create new markets, serving the networking and edge computing needs of our mutual customers.”

Microsoft intends to support both network equipment manufacturers and operators in their efforts to find solutions that are “faster, easier and cost effective”. Affirmed Networks’ fully virtualised, cloud-native mobile solutions are designed to enable operators to simplify network operations, reduce costs and rapidly create and launch new revenue-generating services.

“This acquisition will allow us to evolve our work with the telecommunications industry, building on our secure and trusted cloud platform for operators,” said Khalidi. “With Affirmed Networks we will be able to offer new and innovative solutions tailored to the unique needs of operators, including managing their network workloads in the hybrid cloud.”

The team at US-based Affirmed Networks will be joining Microsoft. Affirmed’s main product UnityCloud manages carrier networks, including increasing and decreasing capacity on demand. It also enables them to network slice to prioritise certain kinds of traffic on their networks.

The Massachusetts firm already has over 100 carriers as customers, including the likes of Vodafone, Orange and AT&T. Incidentally, Microsoft Azure has a $2bn cloud contract with AT&T.

Earlier this month, HPE unveiled its 5G Core Stack to strengthen its position in the 5G party, and Google recently made a similar move with its Anthos for Telecom and Global Mobile Edge Cloud platforms. In addition, Amazon offers AWS Wavelength – which provides storage and computing power to mobile operators’ 5G networks – and VMware offers niche virtual networks tailored for carriers through its NSX system.

Affirmed recently raised $155m in funding, so while the acquisition price has not been disclosed, it’s clear that Microsoft did not pay peanuts.